cing an Ironman can be one of the most exhilarating and incredible experiences of your life. It can also be a totally awful day and a lot of this comes down to your nutrition choices. If you’ve watched or raced an Ironman you’ve seen it before; athletes blowing up on the bike, vomiting on the run, cramping, collapsing at the finish line and being carted off into the medical tent. Ironman racing can get messy at best and dangerous at worst. This can happen to a lesser degree in other sports, but Ironman is a day when you can’t hide from your nutritional decisions.
Athletes commonly vary between easy and hard days in training. It can be an advantage to plan food and nutrition around these training cycles and use a technique called carb-cycling. As sports nutrition shows us, some diet changes can help enhance our athletic performance, particularly in weight sensitive sports. They can even help us lose fat and improve performance, which is particularly helpful as we get closer to a race or competition.
We all know sugar tastes good and it’s hard to stop at just a small sample of anything deliciously sweet. But are you addicted? It’s certainly possible, as sugar activates opiate receptors in your brain to make you feel good emotionally, even if only in the short term. But once the sugar high wears off, you can be headed for an energy crash, headaches and fluctuating hormones which becomes a vicious cycle as you reach for the next quick ‘pick me up’. There are clear benefits of quitting sugar on performance for athletes, so it’s time to get real and look at what happens to your body when you give sugar the flick for good.
During a long endurance event such as an Ironman race there is no question that you will need to fuel yourself well throughout the day. You body has limited stores of energy, and we know that consuming carbohydrates during exercise can improve your performance. We also know that not all carbs are created equal, and so when planning a race day strategy you may use a combination of drinks, gels, and solid food to get the nutrition you need. No one wants to run out of energy or have gut discomfort, so here are some solutions to keep these problems from affecting you on race day.
Taking care of your immune system is always important, but even more so if you are facing any stress in your life. Stress can be in many forms, including a heavy training load, nutritional stress from a sub-standard diet, or physiological stress from an intense job or challenges in your personal life. And what happens when we get stressed, tired, or run down? We get sick. Which is the last thing you want if you’re training for a big event, or you’re just simply trying to stay as healthy as possible in everyday life.
Every day there seems to be a new product on the market, many with incredible claims that are big on marketing and fresh appeal of new promises. It can be hard to know if they work, or for you to even find the time and resources to research their amazing product claims.
Sports nutrition is an essential player in athletic performance, no matter your chosen sport or the level you compete at. Nutrient timing around training days, competition days and rest days become a crucial component of your performance ability. Every athlete is on the hunt for the magic formula to give them a competitive ‘edge’ to…