The Babe Project - Keys to Success

The Babe Project is well into week two of our eight week training program.  The training load will continue to increase as we build into our preparation for the various distances of the Gold Coast Marathon Event, and the Babes' excitement is building. TriBabes are fortunate to have a wonderful group of professional women who train with us, and as we regularly share our experiences through training, we discovered quickly that there is a wealth of knowledge and experience between us. Introducing "The Keys to Success", a TriBabes platform for our members to share articles relating to their professional fields to our community. From tips and tricks to useful advice that will benefit us all.

Our first article is by TriBabe Regina Tilyard. Reggie as we fondly call her, is a practising dietitian in Brisbane. Reggie has prepared a great article on nutrition for the athlete.

Here is...

A Short Guide to Training Nutrition

As our training load increases and the event calendar starts to fill up with planned races, it’s important to consider all things contributing to our performance and wellbeing. The role of nutrition is extremely important for any training regimen in order to fuel good quality training sessions, help our body’s repair and refuel, and promote a well functioning immune system to fight sickness or fatigue. It’s essential to be thinking about your nutrition plan well before event season, as it can take time and experimentation to find out what works best for you.

Pre-exercise nutrition:

Most people can tolerate their last main meal 2-4 hours before training or racing, but for early morning starts or high intensity sessions look for a small snack 30-90 minutes before exercising.

Carbohydrates are key, as the preferred fuel source for our brain and muscles. Aim for 1-4 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of your body weight to fuel your body for exercise (e.g. 60-240g of carbohydrates if you weigh 60kg). Low fibre carbohydrates (otherwise known as simple sugars) will be more efficiently processed so are suitable for fuelling 30-90 mins before exercise. Low fibre carbs can also prevent stomach upset or “runners gut”.

It’s important to stay well hydrated by sipping on fluids throughout the day, rather than gulping down lots of water right before training or racing. This will help your body utilise the fluid more effectively to prevent dehydration and fatigue.
Look for moderate protein and low fat in your pre-exercise meal, as they can be slow to digest and can contribute to fullness and lethargy.

Practice your options in training sessions comparable to your race day conditions – never trial a nutrition plan on race day in case your body doesn’t handle your fuel the way you hoped!

For endurance events longer than 90 minutes, studies show that performance is enhanced by a higher carbohydrate intake 1-4 days prior (a.k.a. a carb load). Focus on grains and cereals, fruits and dairy foods in your race day lead up.
Suggestions: toast, crumpets or rice cakes with jam or honey and banana; muesli bar; glass of fruit juice or a fruit smoothie; yoghurt with fruit and cereal or muesli

Fuelling during exercise:

Most people won’t need to eat or drink during exercise if the session lasts less than ~60 minutes (or 90 minutes at low intensity). But for training sessions or races above this duration, topping up your carbohydrate stores will fuel your body to sustain a higher intensity for a longer period.

Similarly to pre-exercise nutrition, look for foods that are high in carbohydrates, low in fibre, easy to digest (low fat and protein) and most importantly – practiced. For exercise lasting 90-120 minutes, the recommended dosage of carbohydrates is 60g per hour. For exercise above 180 minutes, the recommended dosage is 90g per hour.

Remember to hydrate consistently and early – don’t wait until you feel thirsty or dehydrated to have a drink. Carbohydrate containing sports drinks are an excellent choice for longer sessions, as they have the dual benefit of fluid for hydration and carbs for fuel. Our bodies also utilise fluid more effectively if combined with the ingestion of carbs and electrolytes.

Suggestions: sandwich with jam, honey or peanut butter; banana; muesli bar; dried
fruit; carbohydrate containing sports drink; carbohydrate gels or chews.

Post-exercise nutrition:

Repair: Aim for 20-25g of protein post exercise to provide amino acids that allow our muscles to repair and rebuild. Research also shows a benefit of consuming this 20g dosage at regular intervals throughout the day at 2-3 hour intervals. If you have a high training and racing load, aim to consume protein containing foods at each meal and snack (e.g. red and white meats, eggs, dairy, nuts, lentils and beans).
Refuel: 1.2g of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight is important after exercise to replenish fuel stores. Aim to have your post exercise meal early, as our muscles are most responsive to glucose within the first 60 minutes post exercise.

Rehydrate: Remember to drink adequate fluid immediately after the session and during the rest of the day thereafter. Sports drink and flavoured milk are an excellent choice for those extra electrolytes and carbs!

Revitalise: To help our muscle fibres repair and keep our immune system strong, include coloured fruit and vegetables and healthy fats. A variety of different coloured fruit and veg will ensure we have a consistent intake of different vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that will help to reduce inflammation post exercise. Omega-3 fats (found in fatty fish like tuna and salmon, flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts and plant oils) can also help to reduce muscle inflammation and soreness.
Suggestions: chicken and salad roll; fruit, yoghurt and muesli; a tin of tuna on crackers; a protein shake and a banana.

For more personalised dietary advice to meet your training and racing goals, Accredited Practising Dietitian Regina Tilyard can help you to create a tailored nutrition plan. Regina consults at Specialist Medical Care Australia in North Lakes (Phone 3050 1910) and Stafford Physiotherapy and Pilates (3857 5815).