Experience the Difference

Fuelling the athlete body 

Fresh is best. Prepare your own food. Control your own intake.

In a previous article I wrote that, as a full time coach, it has proved to be far easier to have committed athletes swim, ride or run in really rough conditions. Hot, cold, wet, windy, early, late….They will get it done and most of the time do it well, but have them eat well all of the time……that is the real challenge!

Bear in mind, that it is your body that does the work and makes you the athlete that you desire to be.

Picture yourself in this scenario: you have just bought an up-and-coming race horse at auction for $100,000+ and you have entrusted that horse to a trainer (horse coach) to house, feed and train that horse to be the champion athlete that you feel it can be otherwise you wouldn’t have made such a big investment in the first place.

You soon discover that the horse trainer is giving your big investment (your potential champion new horse) fizzy drinks and other high sugar food and drink in conjunction with factory made burgers and other mass produced, low nutrient food……think how you would feel about that?

Sound familiar? If not yourself, I expect that you will know many people that claim to be athletes that feed themselves along those lines.

How long would you expect their careers to be, feeding the body like that, not to mention the ongoing inability of the body to fully recover between training sessions?

So what should your race horse with all of this natural potential and ability be fed to ensure the very best possible chances of sporting success?

A quick Google search on this topic states: “since proper gut function is essential to the health and well-being of the horse, fibre-rich forage should be considered the foundation of a racehorse’s feeding program. Racehorses should be fed 7-9kg per day of clean hay such as oaten hay.”

And/OR: For a horse to race to its ability, it needs the proper nutritional intake to allow for maximum effort. This requires a specialized diet that is balanced and is adequate in quantity and quality to maintain the horse in top form.

While I completely accept that the duration of most horse races is less than 4 minutes which makes the intensity extremely high compared to triathlons and most running events, the principle of train, recovery, repeat is the same regardless of the length of the event.

So how does this differ from human athletes that have all the potential in the world to achieve great results compared to that of a champion racehorse? Obviously, the type of food will be different, however those 2 quick Google search items clearly highlighted some key factors:

  • Gut health and function is all important to health and well being
  • Clean, fibre rich food is essential
  • The need for a proper nutritional intake to allow for maximum effort
  • The requirement to consume a specialized diet, unique to the individual that is balanced and adequate in both quality and quantity.

It is evident that for success, there is no mention of the inclusion of high sugar, ‘dead food’, low nutrient value, or fast food. It is solely based on quality, clean, high-nutrient value food.

In my opinion….the single most uncomplicated thing you will ever do in your life is to eat properly for both your sport and for your health.

If you are healthy, you will recover faster, race stronger and faster. That is guaranteed.

Hypothetically, if you live until you are 90 years old (currently, many people are living longer than this) you will most likely eat 130,000 meals in your lifetime. That is an inordinate amount of opportunities to provide the body with high quality, clean food and nutrients.

Over the past few years, an increasing number of athletes have approached me who have chosen to lead vegetarian or even vegan lifestyles whilst still maintaining elite athlete status.

While adhering to the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle does certainly present some challenges surrounding planning and preparation, we have proved countless times that lifestyle choice does not hinder elite sport like it was once believed.

What I mean by good, clean high quality nutrient rich food is this:

  • Fresh is best.
  • If the food has been alive recently then it will deliver your body the highest and best possible nutrients. The closer that food is to having been picked or prepared, the better it will be for your body.
  • Whenever possible, purchase all of the ingredients yourself and prepare those ingredients into your own food. That way you have total control of your nutritional intake and not leaving it to chance if someone else prepares your food.

Attention needs to be made towards daily energy expenditure as there are not many sports that do not have a requirement to maintain a high power to weight ratio.

If you are too light, you will likely lack strength, power and therefore speed.

If you are too heavy, you will likely fatigue far earlier than you would like to.

Your personal ideal weight ‘sweet spot’ is unique to you based on your physiological strengths and weaknesses and your attention needs to be focused on exactly that.

In my next article I will expand on this and give much more detailed and specific information on when, what, why and how much to consume.

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