Eat to Perform: Getting Back to Basics

une femme mange un sandwich
Photo : Gardie Design & Social Media Marketing

The off season, and let’s face it, isolation is the perfect time to analyze last season and prepare as best as possible for the next. This goes for nutrition. However, given this shift, we may tend to attach greater focus to our meals immediately before training or a race and what to eat during these specific activities.

Every athlete has most likely tested nutrition on long runs so as to find their favorite pre-race meal as well as the brand or flavour of gel or bar that they prefer to eat while running. This is great. Sports nutrition strategies are an important vector for success in trail running.

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Some folks also give vitamin or dietary supplements a try. Vitamins and protein powders are among the most popular. It is however recommended to remain objective about these products, since their marketing is designed to promise more than they deliver.

That being said, the most important part of nutrition to reach sporting goals is unfortunately sometimes a little neglected … It is simply a healthy daily diet!

The basics: eat well every day

Credit: Asker Jeukendrup

For a pyramid to stand, the foundation must be strong. This is where the role of diet and nutrition in sports performance should be approached.

Healthy eating habits every day will allow athletes to start their workouts and races with maximum energy. Next, athletes can add to this the effect of their specific sports nutrition strategy. Finally, the use of certain supplements could allow runners to perform at maximum capacity during training or on race day.

Here are the five core principles of healthy eating every day. The vast majority of meals should contain:

  • 1. An abundance of vegetables or fruits (⅓ to ½ of the plate), prepared to your preference;
  • 2. A reasonable portion (¼ to ⅓ of the plate) of starchy foods (cereals, whole grain breads, pasta, etc.). Choose whole grain products rich in fiber and season everything according to your inspiration of the moment;
  • 3. A reasonable portion (¼ to ⅓ of the plate) of protein-rich foods. Prioritize vegetable proteins over animal proteins and fish and poultry over red meat;
  • 4. A large glass of water;
  • 5. Foods you love to eat!

By readily applying these five simple food strategies, the foundation of your food pyramid will take shape. This will naturally maximize the effects of the upper layers.

Food must remain a source of pleasure. Last but not least, stay away from fad diets, especially any diet counseling a severe reduction in carbohydrates – these are not intended for runners!

Translation : Caroline Beaton

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