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Ideas for Athletes & Coaches Preparing for Real Competition


I’m not sure if I actually have heard people ask this possibly absurd question, but I get the sense that people do all the time. Let me explain.

Many diet advertisements focus on what you eat - and whether it is yummy and filling. They’re both important things, but education as to the content of foods, their nutritional value and the role they play in a healthy diet are more important criteria to help people eat well for a lifetime and for athletes to perform their best.

There’s the simple Chinese Proverb: “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.”

Athletes need high performance bodies and to have one it’s best that you learn and know how the fuel you’re eating will affect your performance. You need to have an idea of how every bite and every mouthful will affect your hydration, the glycogen stores in your muscles and liver, your electrolyte balance and your levels of vitamins and micro nutrients .

No, I don’t expect you’ll have access to blood and biopsy results to give you this information. But you should learn about effective nutrition for athletes and to notice the signs of health in your body. You can use these indicators:

  • Changes in your body weight, measured daily, will indicate your hydration status and also your general volume of food intake.
  • Poo : Changes in the size will indicate how much food the body has absorbed. Very large stools may indicate overeating. Very soft stools may indicate a low fiber diet.
  • The color and volume of your urine will indicate your hydration status.
  • Heart rate in the morning will indicate your recovery from the previous day’s training - 5 bpm above average resting HR indicates fatigue; 10 bpm above means the body is struggling and you should probably have the day off (or you’re very dehydrated).
  • You may be able to sense your immune status by sinus discomfort, a craggy throat or just general tiredness.

Principles of the athlete’s weight loss:

  • Energy out needs to be more than energy in - but not by a lot, or training will suffer.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to reduce your fat levels. Set a goal - say 2kg/4.4lbs over two months - that works out at just 33g/1.2oz a day. Weigh yourself each day and keep a graph.
  • Increase fiber intake a little eg, change from white bread to wholemeal. Check the nutrition labels on packaged foods – anything above 8g dietary fiber per 100g of food is pretty good. The fiber will pad out your meals but is not digested.
  • Make sure the timing of your meals is good - help your recovery from training with some high GI foods.
  • If exercising in the morning try some diet coke (<200mls) 10-45 mins before starting – it can help get your metabolism going to break down the fats and provide a bit more stimulation when you might otherwise be feeling flat. For exercise sessions later in the day, begin them just when you start to feel hungry as this will also help delay the meal and burn fat.
  • Generally aim to reduce the fat content of your meals – trim visible fat from meat and again check the nutrition labels where possible to find foods with fat less than 5g/100g.

If you’re a small female (<62kg/136lbs) who wants to loose weight and still train well you've got a formidable, but doable challenge. To ingest all of your daily nutrient requirements you have be quite careful with what you eat because the total volume of food you can eat is relatively low, so each meal should be thought out.

Since you will be limiting your food intake, quality is important and keeping up a regular course of multi-vitamin supplements will help you avoid missing out on any nutrients. You are likely to feel more tired at times than normal. Too bad! Your performance will improve, making light of the short-term discomfort.

If you like, you can view it in terms of personal sacrifice, but if you’re goals are firm and motivation high, then it’s just part of the job.

To learn a lot more:

Sports Nutrition Guide Book

Sports and Exercise Nutrition

Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes

Survival for the Fittest

Related posts

  1. Latest Study on Nutritional Recovery from Endurance Exercise

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