Nutrition for Training

Whether you’re training for Rio or your first 5km run this Summer, what you eat to fuel your body is just as important. With Spin 1038’s Sandstorm Event coming up on the 14th of May I’ve put together a few tips to help you get your diet on track and make sure no obstacles stand in your way, except for a 10ft ladder, net ropes and some tyres…This 5km obstacle course being held on Dollymount Strand beach is the perfect excuse to set yourself some goals, start training and get yourself that beach body, although unfortunately there won’t be any lying around in the sun involved…

What to Eat

While training, it’s really important that you eat a variety of foods that will give you the energy and nutrients needed to get you through your workouts and help you recover. Two of the most important nutrients are protein, which is needed to build and repair muscle, and carbohydrate, which gives us energy. To give you an idea of what and when to eat while training for Sandstorm I’ve given you a few tips to help you make the best food choices…

Protein

Protein is a key component of a healthy diet, particularly in athletes and active people. It helps build and repair damaged muscles after exercise so it’s important to make sure that you are getting enough. However, nowadays it feels as if there is a bit of a protein overload in the shops. With protein powders and bars even being stocked in the local corner shop it’s hard to know how much you actually need.

Generally speaking, you can figure this out by multiplying your weight in kilograms by 0.75 to give you the amount of grams of protein you need in a day (so if you weight 70kg you need about 52g of protein per day). Active people can have a bit more but generally most people already get enough from their diets so don’t need any extra supplements. Considering that a chicken breast has 30g of protein, two eggs have 14g and a latte has 9g it’s not very difficult to hit your target.

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A chicken and green salad bagel is a great lunch option.

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Cooked quinoa mixed with chicken, veg and feta cheese makes a great lunch or dinner.

While eating more than the recommended amount of protein doesn’t appear to cause harm, really high intakes can lead to lead to loss of calcium. If you’re not getting enough calcium in your diet from things like milk, dairy and green vegetables then the calcium will be stripped from your bones making them weak and brittle – not good!

Have a look at the table below to see some examples of protein rich foods. Try and have a little bit of protein with each meal as it can help you feel fuller. It’s also a good idea to get in a bit of protein within an hour or two after a training session. If you’re due to have a main meal then that should be enough. If not, then it’s a good idea to have a snack such as a chicken or peanut butter sandwich on wholegrain bread or a yoghurt with some fruit.

Some Common Foods and their Protein Content

Food Protein Content
Chicken Breast 30g
Grilled Salmon 32g
Tinned Tuna 16g
Fried Mince 20g
1 Egg 7g
Overnight Oats with Milk 9g
Cappuccino 7g
2 Slices Brown Bread 8g
Yoghurt 7g
Baked Beans 4g
Peanut Butter (15g) 4g

Carbohydrates

The term “carb” terrifies people – mainly because of how it has been wrongly demonized by the media and celebrity diets. Carbohydrates are our main source of energy, not just for exercise but for involuntary things like breathing, body temperature control and brain function – it’s super important! When we eat carbohydrates they are broken down into molecules of glucose. If this glucose is not used up immediately then it is stored in muscles as glycogen for use later (e.g. for the few hours spent sitting at your desk between breakfast and lunch or for when you are working out).

Our muscles can only store so much glucose as glycogen and any extra is converted to and stored as fat. Therefore, we need enough carbohydrate to make energy and glycogen but not too much so that it is converted to fat. Active women need about 4-5 portions of carbohydrates per day and active men need about 5-7.  Actual portion sizes are generally much smaller than our idea of portion sizes so just keep on eye on your measures to make sure you are not eating too much (see the table below for guides to portion sizes). Choose carbohydrates such as oats, brown bread, rice or pasta and sweet potatoes which release their energy slowly. Also, make sure that you either have a main meal containing carbohydrates or a snack such as a chicken sandwich or yoghurt and fruit after you train as this is when you need to restock your muscle glycogen stores.

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Overnight oats or porridge made with low fat supermilk are a perfect post-workout breakfast.

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Bean Stew with brown rice or cauliflower rice is one of my go to dinners on training days as it can be pre-cooked, frozen in individual portions and then just heated up when you need it.

 

It’s also a good idea to have more carbs on the days that you are training and a bit less on the days you are not. Some good foods to have on training days are overnight oats, chicken and salad wholegrain sandwiches and fish and rice with vegetables. Training on a low-carb diet means that you will have low glycogen reserves in your muscles. When you go to workout you won’t have as much energy, you won’t be able to workout at the same intensity and you’re more likely to get injured – which is not what you want on the 14th of May when you’ll be climbing 10 foot ladders and crawling through nets during the Spin 1038 Sandstorm race!

Carbohydrate Portion Sizes

Food Number of portions
1 slice brown bread 1
25g porridge oats 1
2 Weetabix 1
1 bagel 2
1 tortilla wrap 2
2 dessertspoons mashed potato 1
2 slice bread sandwich 2
½ cup boiled rice, pasta or noodles 1

 

Some healthy meal ideas:

Breakfast:

Lunch:

  • Chicken and salad sandwich on wholegrain bread.
  • Homemade soup with brown bread.
  • Tuna, egg, tomato, olive and butter bean salad with a balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing.

Post workout snack:

Dinner:

  • Grilled salmon with brown rice and vegetables.
  • Chicken, vegetable and noodle stir-fry.
  • Mixed bean stew.