- Food first.
Although supplements and meal replacements may seem very appealing and simple, the truth is you don’t need them! A healthy, balanced diet will provide your body with everything it requires in terms of macro and micro-nutrients, fibre and phytonutrients (non-nutritive plant compounds shown to be necessary for sustaining human life). Supplements are expensive and usually don’t cant offer the same benefits, they are also largely unregulated and therefore may contain compounds that are hazardous to ones health.
- You need carbs.
Contrary to popular belief, you definitely need carbohydrates to fuel your workouts. Carbs are required before, during and after exercise.
The aim of your pre-exercise meal is to ensure that you have a slow release of energy being supplied throughout the training or event. You should therefore choose low GI carbohydrates such as whole wheat bread or pasta, brown rice or FutureLife. Low GI carbohydrates are digested and absorbed more slowly, providing energy over a longer period. Depending on the amount of time before the event, you should also add a moderate amount of protein to this. It is advisable to keep the meal low fat to avoid gastric irritation.
Because our muscles are only able to store a limited amount of energy in the form of glycogen it is necessary to refuel during prolonged exercise. During exercise it is usually advisable to choose high GI carbs.
Post exercise you again need carbs to replenish the glycogen stores which you have depleted. If you have sufficient time to recover the GI of carbohydrates at this stage will not make much of a difference.
- Don’t skip your recovery meal/snack.
As touched on previously, a recovery meal is essential for replenishing glycogen stores and repairing muscles. This should be consumed as soon after exercise as possible, but certainly within 30-60 minutes. Many people believe that you only need a pure protein shake for recovery, this is false. Your largest requirement post-exercise is actually carbohydrate. You also require is 0.2-0.5g of protein per kg body weight, with a maximum requirement of 25g. FutureLife Smart Food and FutureLife High protein are excellent recovery meals and shakes.
- Hydration, hydration, hydration!!
Good hydration is essential for optimal performance. Even the loss of 1-3% of your body weight through sweat causes a loss of strength and fatigue. Ensure that you consume sufficient fluids and electrolytes before, during and after exercise and remember that your requirements are increased in dry, hot weather. A significant weight loss after exercise is a sign of dehydration, make sure that you drink 500ml of fluids for each 500g lost.
- Avoid/limit alcohol.
Alcohol has effects on the body that result in decreased energy and dehydration. It also delays recovery and slows down protein synthesis. If you enjoy a few social drinks, it is advisable to stick to the prudent guideline of 1-2 servings of alcohol and to avoid alcohol completely before a race and during your recovery period.