4 + More Tips for Race Ready Nutrition
Spring has sprung and we are now embarking on a potential summer of racing! Some races have already taken place and we are waiting to see if the rest will happen. It can be tough to form a training plan when your race schedule is up in the air. The good thing about the D3 coaches is that they have a number of tools in their toolbox to make sure you are always race-ready. One of those tools is your nutrition. So much has happened with our eating habits over the past year, and as we begin to ramp up training, it’s imperative to reestablish your nutrition priorities so you can stay in step with your training and be race-ready. Let’s dive into these four tips and learn how nutrition can play a key role in your success this year.
- If you are carrying some COVID winter weight and you are in need of a reset, try doing a heathy cleanse. Choose only fruits, vegetables, healthy fats (olive oil, coconut oil, nut/seed oil, ghee, or avocado oil), lean proteins (grass fed/organic animal protein, organic legumes), and gluten free whole grains. When we give our body only what it needs, our intuition starts to come back. We get hungry at proper times, blood sugar and hormones stay balanced, and so does our energy.
- As spring turns into summer try mixing up your diet with different fruits and vegetables that are in season.
- Grab a new cooking magazine for ideas or search the web to get excited about what you’re eating.
- Ask a friend or family member to do it with you to help you stay on track.
Summertime means warmer weather, increased sweat rates, and the need for more electrolytes. As races approach keep in mind that the two main things that help us absorb water are carbohydrates and sodium. Knowing this, the week before a race try eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Also, add more salt to your food to make sure you are topping off your electrolyte and hydration needs. It’s always a good idea to add lean proteins and healthy fats to carbohydrates especially at mealtime.
Also, make sure to use a sports drink for workouts and try to never fall behind on your hydration. If you are dehydrated you are more likely to eat too much, our thirst and hunger mechanisms in the brain are highly correlated. Stay hydrated to feel satisfied and full. If races get canceled nothing is lost, you will be set to have a great weekend workout regimen with full glycogen stores and hydration.
As training ramps up, the need for various nutrients goes up. For example, we produce more free radicals when we exercise so getting more antioxidants is important, especially from different colors of foods. Additionally, B vitamins and iron levels get used up more rapidly when our body endures stress. Getting your iron levels checked early in the season and again partway through is always a good idea.
Check for Iron binding capacity, ferritin (stored iron), Hemoglobin (Hgb), Hematocrit (Hct), MCV, and homocysteine. MCV checks for macrocytic anemia which is driven by a deficiency of B12 and folate. If homocysteine levels are high, B12, B6, and folate can help bring the number back into a better range, high homocysteine is not good for the heart and is a helpful indicator of B vitamin status. Pernicious anemia is primarily diagnosed when hemoglobin is low, this is driven by a B12 deficiency primarily.
Other things to check would be for absorption issues including stomach acid balance. If iron deficient, one of the better forms of iron to take is bis-glycinate, you don’t have to take as much and it’s more gentle on the stomach. Keep in mind that Vitamin C helps absorb iron and calcium competes with its absorption.
As we look ahead and plan for races, we all know how our training is supposed to go. Some weeks are build weeks which will have more intensity and duration, and some weeks will have less time and intensity. As your training ebbs and flows, it is important to adjust your food intake.
- When you are in a rest week, focus on your main meals (less snacking), stay hydrated, and do your best to eat recovery foods that include fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
- When training levels are high, plan your weekend meals ahead of time so you don’t have to spend extra time doing that.
- Choose healthy snacks and try to do as much real food as possible.
- One thing that is very helpful for many athletes is doing a recovery drink after a hard or long workout. Try to consume this within 30 minutes of training, it should include a good amount of easy to absorb carbohydrates, protein, and a smaller amount of fat. A homemade version looks something like this:
- 25g whey protein, collagen protein, or vegan protein
- 1 banana
- 8oz Pom juice
- 8 oz water
- 1 tsp MCT oil
- *Some people need more carbohydrates than this. There are several recovery drinks on the market so use one that works for you.
Megan Dopp is a certified nutritionist who understands athletes. She is an endurance athlete who has personally struggled and persevered with nutrition concerns. Her career began working in a heart clinic all the while pursuing her passion for sports nutrition. She continued to refine her interest working with professional athletes to improve their nutrition for performance. Megan currently has a diverse array of clientele including people suffering from autoimmune conditions, gastrointestinal distress, heart disease, allergies, cancer, diabetes, professional cycling teams, runners, triathletes and more.