The Importance of Good Nutritional Support
Getting the appropriate nutritional support is extremely important as failure to adequately replenish fuel and fluid stores can lead to dehydration, increased fatigue, cognitive dysfunction and poor performance (1). Nutritional strategies need to take into consideration the type of training and competition, the duration, as well as environmental factors such as weather, terrain and altitude.
High altitude means reduced oxygen availability which limits energy metabolism and power output (2). Altitude also creates an anorexic affect which results in reduced ingestion of food and therefore weight loss, which is detrimental to athletic performance, especially in endurance events like ultramarathon and Ironman where athletes will lose 3-4% of their body weight during an event (1,2).
Carbohydrate (CHO) Recommendations
As a general rule, the following CHO intakes are recommended (3);
- Light exercise less than 60 mins 3-5g/kg
- Moderate exercise 60 min per day 5-7g/kg
- High intensity exercise 1-3hrs per day 6-10g/kg
- Very high intensity exercise 4-5hrs per day 8-12g/kg
CHO loading should occur 36-48 hours prior to the start of an event and involve 10-12g/kg per 24 hours.
CHO recovery should utilise 1-1.2g/kg for the first 4 hours, then resume normal fuelling strategy. Recovery should also include protein to assist with tissue repair and remodelling, 20g of protein, such as milk, chocolate milk, whey protein should be ingested within 30 minutes of finishing an intense training session or competition (4). With another 20g of protein taken in every 3 hours for the following 12 hours (4).
Nutrition is very individualised, so be sure to try different foods, supplements, gels, energy drinks etc and play around with the quantities and timings during training to find the “race day” strategy and approach that results in optimization of performance with the least amount of gastrointestinal discomfort. For proper guidance on optimizing your sports nutrition intake and strategies consult with our practitioners or with a practitioner or nutritionist who has sports specific training.