Hypertonic drinks contain ~10g of carbohydrate per 100ml in order to provide maximum energy uptake and are excellent for refuelling after exercise. However, the presence of so much carbohydrate can delay water absorption. Hypertonic drinks can be thought of more as food and can be used as a convenient pre- or post-exercise snack. They best used after training or alternated with water during longer events.
Isotonic drinks quickly replace the fluid lost by sweating. Containing more sugar than hypotonic drinks (~6g per 100ml) isotonic drinks are ideally suited to exercise where carbohydrate and fluid replacement are necessary to avoid a decline in performance. Isotonic drinks provide energy, which may not be required by people trying to manage their weight or people exercising for less than 60 min.
Hypotonic drinks are intended to quickly replace water and electrolytes lost during exercise. Hypotonic drinks only contain ~2g carbohydrate per 100ml which is insufficient to fuel a long or hard workout. This type of sports drink is best suited to exercise 60 min or less or where fluid replacement is more important than fuelling such as exercise in the heat.
Electrolyte tablets can be added to water, cordial or diluted fruit juice to create a low calorie sports drink suitable to your flavor preference and hydration needs. They can also be used to increase the electrolyte content of an existing sports drink, which is especially useful when the conditions are hot or you’re a heavy sweater. In endurance races, such as triathlons and ultra-marathon races salt tablets are commonly used as a supplement to sports drinks.
Alcohol acts a diuretic and may slow down the process of rehydration after the match. Despite what you may have heard about beer and carbohydrate-loading, alcoholic drinks are low in carbohydrate content and will not help replenish your muscle glycogen stores. If you are going to drink, ideally you should rehydrate and refuel after a match prior to indulging in 1-2 drinks MAXIMUM!
Whilst supplements will not make up for a poor diet, there are a few that, in some situations, have been proven to aid performance in team sports. Carbohydrate, creatine and caffeine are the primary ones. You should always seek advice from a nutritionist prior to using these supplements in your match day strategy.
Foods to avoid before a match include foods high in fat, fibre and protein. Fat takes a long time to digest, and fatty foods delay emptying of the stomach. Avoid foods such as pizza, burgers, chips, sausages, croissants, fry-ups, sausage rolls, which are typically high in fat. Fibre also delays stomach emptying, and it can cause stomach cramps if you eat too much before exercise. Protein takes a long time to digest, so eating a high-protein meal right before a game is not recommended. Choose easy to digest proteins such as chicken, fish and vegetable sources.
Eat your main meal 2-4 hours before the game. The exact time will come down to personal preference, volume and composition of the meal. If you are still hungry, eat a small carbohydrate based snack 60-90 minutes before you start the game. Things like cereal bars, bananas, yoghurts, fruit bread and crumpets work well during this time.
Whilst carbohydrate loading is important – I’ve done the research to show that people who carbo-load maintain pace better during the London Marathon – the whole premise creates really poor nutrition habits. Fatigue, bloating and lethargy typically result from consuming large amounts of carbohydrate in a short amount of time. Runners tend to assume that it means eating the largest bowl of pasta for their evening meal, adding half a loaf of bread, and a pudding for good measure. This is NOT good practice. The day before a race is all about carbohydrate loading, but eating 4-5 meals in that day as opposed to 3 will help, by spreading the carbohydrate intake. Steal a little bit more food at every meal, use drinks or smoothies to prevent bloating, but above everything, you shouldn’t feel full, bloated or stuffed.
Its true! To help promote recovery, the recommendations clearly state 20-25g of fast acting protein (e.g. whey), and 1.2g/kg body weight of carbohydrate. It is easy to get the hit of protein from milk, a recovery shake or a chicken sandwich, but the carbohydrate becomes a little tougher if you like to be detailed enough regarding your body weight. That aside, evidence shows the benefits of milk in improving recovery similar to that of classical supplements. There are small differences between formulations for those who want to know more, but the question is a good one, and the answer is yes.
If I had the answer to the “stitch” I would definitely be a rich man! In truth, it is a very frustrating, and a common problem. On the basis I can’t provide a solution, I will quickly outline the key areas in which you should think through and address:
– Note down the foods you tend to eat in the periods close to a race. Are they always the same, does the stitch occur at times when you can see trends in your food choices?
– What about the timing of your food intake. Are you having your pre-race meal 4 hours before races, and if not how close, or far away. Depending on that, are you snacking before hand also?
In many respects, I have asked more questions than provided answers. But working together we would keep a diary, and try to work through exactly what your pre-race schedule was and if there were any obvious areas in which to change. It might be an area to discuss direct.
In some form, I understand the question, but in another – I almost think it is slightly mis-informed. Ultimately, no one vitamin can ever have quite the effect of a well balanced diet that includes all the key vitamins and minerals in the diet. I know we’ve all heard it before – blah blah blah – but in all honesty it is true. However, if you are an individual who does struggle with food choices, and specific attention is required due to your high training loads, there are two areas I would focus:
Iron: This helps to facilitate oxygen transport, and whilst females remain the most at risk, it is important that a runner with a serious training programme cannot be diet low in iron
Vitamin C: As touched upon above, vitamin C might be important in supporting a reduced risk or fight against infection
Colds are the curse of winter! In an ideal world we would try to reduce the risk of catching a cold and there are probably a few areas that you could investigate. The most important area is “energy” – if you are training hard, it is well known that if there are any deficits in your total energy intake, particularly if delayed after a training session, the opportunity to catch a cold is much higher. Therefore, think about whether you are consuming enough food and in particular whether you are consuming a recovery snack immediately after training.
Other options include Vitamin C, probiotics and a regular intake of fresh fruit and vegetables
Travel snacks should be packed in your hand luggage as an alternative to sweets, crisps, chocolate, cakes and other unhealthy options. Airports are full of shops temping you into buying unhealthy foods that are packed with empty calories. Swap chocolates, sweets and crisps with dried fruit, mixed nuts and seeds, oatcakes, yoghurts, beef jerky and low fat muesli bars.
You shouldn’t feel obliged to eat the food provided on the plane. You can pack your own meals and snacks to eat on the plane. Sandwiches, cold pizza, salads and noodle pots are good options to replace main meals.
The best things to drink are water, water with fresh lemon, fruit squash, watered down fruit juice and fruit or herbal teas.
Alcohol can disrupt sleep, cause dehydration and contain empty calories. If you want to enjoy a glass of wine with your meal, make sure you drink plenty of water afterwards.
It’s probably best to try a herbal sleeping pill before you travel rather than trying them for the first time on a flight. However, they can cause disruption to your sleep pattern and can exacerbate the issue of dehydration. You are better off setting your clock to the destination time and using relaxation strategies to help you sleep.
The most important nutritional challenge during short haul is hydration. You will still be susceptible to dehydration whether you are flying long haul or short haul. It’s still best to avoid excessive intake of sugar and processed snacks but going without food for a couple of hours will not do you any harm!
Avoid greasy fast food, fried foods, alcohol and fizzy carbohydrate drinks before flying as these can cause bloating and wind. Cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli and baked beans can also cause digestive problems and are best avoided on the day of travel.
You are allowed to take food on a flight. The only thing to bear in mind is if you have any food left over after you land, check whether customs allows you to take it into the country, particularly if its fruit, vegetables or meat. You’re not allowed to take water through security but once you’re in the departures lounge you can purchase water to take on the flight with you.
Gastrointestinal (GI) discomfort includes cramping, nausea, bloating, vomiting, and diarrhea. There are a number of factors that cause GI distress, and typically it is a combination of these factors that causes the problem. Reducing your intake of high fibre foods such as broccoli and whole grain carbohydrates, fatty foods and meats such as beef and pork before competing helps to minimize GI distress.
Carbohydrate loading is a strategy used by endurance athletes, competing in events lasting longer than 90 min, to maximize the storage of energy in the muscles and improve performance. Eating 5-6 carbohydrate-based meals for 2-3 days prior to racing will boost stored energy. Tortillas, pitta bread, porridge, bread, pancakes, bagels, yogurt, and juice are all easy to digest options. Foods high in fat and fibre take longer to digest and should be limited at this time.
Foods to eat 60 min before exercise include high glycaemic index carbohydrates and drinks. Fruit smoothies, fresh fruit juice (350ml), bananas, low fat yoghurt , fruit bread (2 slices Soreen), small jam sandwich on white bread , energy bars and sports drinks are all great choices. Avoiding snacks high in fibre and fat is essential. Some of you may find avoiding diary helps settle your stomach and avoid feelings of being bloated.
Foods to avoid before exercise include fat, fibre and protein. Fat takes a long time to digest, and fatty foods delay emptying of the stomach. Avoid foods such as fast foods, fatty meats and dairy products and baked goods, which are typically high in fat. Fiber delays stomach emptying, and it can cause stomach cramps if you eat too much fiber before exercise. Protein takes a long time to digest, so eating a high-protein meal right before exercising is not recommended
Despite common myths and fears, you will not get bigger muscles by consuming protein. It requires consistent resistance training as well as adequate protein intake to build muscle. Consuming protein without having to step foot in a gym or break sweat lifting weights is only likely to make you a little heavier rather than muscular!