Nutrition and supplementation are vital components to recovery and optimizing your performance. As the body gets stressed and taxed during training, it becomes more important to replenish with key vitamins and minerals so that your body is ready to go again the next day or even later that same day.
This is the first post in a series based on work with Dr. Shawn Williams at The Academy of Lifestyle Medicine. Dr. Williams, an elite marathoner himself, has shared some tips about carbs, fats, and vitamins. Over the next few posts, we will try to shed some light on the nutrients that a body needs to function well and to respond to the stresses of training.
Dr. Williams is quick to point out that this is a general overview on nutrition for athletes. Keep in mind that many of the things talked about here can have dramatic affects as well as small affects, but when you are performing at a high level every little edge helps. Everything from healing faster, thinking sharper, reacting faster, and having more energy are addressed now and in the upcoming posts.
First and foremost, water consumption must be addressed. Whether training during hot or cold months, it is important to stay hydrated. As you progress through the day, regardless of training, the body must have water. During activity, if you get to the point of being thirsty, you have already lost 25% of your performance levels and it will continue to drop off. You must stay hydrated throughout the day.
Probably one of the most important things to keep in mind is to stabilize your blood glucose levels in the morning. When you have not eaten all night long your blood sugar gets low. If the first thing you put in your body is cake, juice, and cereal you will get a major spike in blood glucose. This is bad for so many reasons. One, you will soon crash within the hour and your head will be bobbing all over the place at work or in class.
Here’s the alternative and it will help create a better start to the day. The most important thing you can do is to get some protein in the morning. Protein is a blood sugar stabilizer. Other things like berries have pectin (a soluble fiber) in them, which are blood sugar stabilizers as well. You don’t have to go change your whole diet, just be more careful when eating different foods at varying points in the day. Hold off on the sweets until the afternoon. Make sure you do eat in the morning and stabilize the sugar. If you don’t it is stressful to your body and you will produce your own cortisol. Cortisol is the source of so many problems and its not something you want to deal with. Do your best not to SPIKE your blood sugar. Carbs can be good for you if you eat them correctly. Complex carbs take longer to digest and have a more spread out affect and don’t spike blood sugar levels.
That’s it for now. Next time we’ll get into carbs and fats a little bit before talking about vitamins and minerals.