In the last series, we talked about the importance of carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins in an athlete’s diet, and emphasised how important it is to provide our body with vitamins, antioxidants, and fibre. This time we will focus on energy supplies during physical performance.
Long training sessions or races do not require just good fitness. If we do not provide our body with the sufficient amount of energy on our big day, the weeks or months of good training will come to nought. We can be successful and give a good performance only if we stick to the rules and learn to listen to our body.
Before we start a training session, our body requires some time to get activated. It needs to wake up and get some energy supplies at least two hours before any physical activity. The more intense the performance we expect, the more thorough the preparation we need.
One day beforehand, we should focus on foods that are easy to digest and that contain a sufficient amount of carbohydrates. We should omit meat as it takes a long time to digest and costs our body extra energy to process.
In the morning it is best to start with porridge and fruit. This kind of breakfast provides us with a good ratio of carbohydrates, minerals, and trace elements. Breakfast should be served at least two hours prior to the activity. Bread and ham should be left for days of rest. We should also be careful to avoid large amount of proteins and fats.
The right timing of our energy supplies during our physical performance is crucial. If we are planning a ride of over two hours, we should not underestimate the energy supply situation. After a two-hour ride, our glycogen reserves come close to zero. It all comes down to the intensity of the ride. When working on endurance, we should supply our body with a small portion of carbohydrates every 20 to 30 minutes.
Start with complex polysaccharides, which we can find in sport and flapjack bars. We should then continue with simple carbohydrates in gel form. If we take advantage of different types of energy sources with different absorption rates, we will feel comfortable throughout the activity.
It is also important to observe our heart rate to keep an eye on our current body condition and to keep properly hydrated.
Within twenty minutes of finishing the activity, we need to supply our body with carbohydrates in the simplest way possible. A sport cocktail is ideal here. Later, we should eat food that is easy to digest and rich in carbohydrates and proteins. A good idea is to supplement our body with branch chain amino acids (BCAA), as they make a significant contribution to the whole recovery process. Fruit, especially bananas, is also a good choice. However, leave fatty food untouched.
The aim is to provide our body with just the right amount of energy to prevent an excess of energy, which our body would store in the form of body fat. On the other hand, an energy deficit is not good either as it can discourage we from exercising. An exception to this is when we are on a deliberate and controlled weight reduction diet, and the exact amount of food is precisely specified.
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