Fuelling your body for training


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There is a big difference between going out for an occasional walk and committing to a major event which requires a significant training load each week. What many people fail to consider when starting out is the importance of not just the type of fuel they take on board but when and how much.

Training for an hour or more each day places a significantly higher load on your muscles so the types of fuel you choose to feed the muscles can play a major role in helping you to feel at your best each day. So, as you prepare for an event and carefully track your training progress (my choice is the TomTom Runner Cardio GPS Sport Watch), here is how you can optimally match your fuel requirements with the right food choices.

1. Carbs for energy

For any recreational or elite athlete ensuring you have enough carbs on board at the right time is similar to ensuring your car is filled with the right petrol before a long road trip. Wholegrain carbs in particular including wholegrain bread, oats, quinoa, brown rice and pasta along with the starchy veggies and fruit offer a nutritious fuel source for the excising muscles. Any runner training for an hour or more each day will require at least a serve (1/2 – 3/4 cup) of carbs at each of their meals. It is also a good idea to recover with a carb rich food within half an hour of finishing any training run to ensure your muscles recover in time for your next training session.

2. Proteins for muscle recovery

Protein rich foods including lean meats, fish, dairy foods, soy products and eggs not only offer a number of essential nutrients but are also crucial in muscle recovery. Protein is also digested after carbohydrates in the body and as such helps to keep us fuller for longer. The formula of always teaming one carb rich food with a protein food at each of your meals is an easy way to balance your meals and give your body the right mix of fuel for training. For example an egg with a slice of toast, or Greek yoghurt with fruit or cheese with wholegrain crackers are all good options.

3. At least four small meals each day

As a general rule of thumb, individuals training for a significant number of hours each week will require at least 200-300 extra calories per day, or an extra meal to reach their basic fuel requirements. If you are interested in your calorie burn per run, you can use most sport watches or running applications to do this, but I would recommend the TomTom Runner Cardio based on accuracy.  Keep in mind that a calorie burn of 500-600 calories will require at least two-thirds of these calories to be replaced to prevent weight loss. The number of meals you will need each day differs widely but if you are distinctly hungry in between your meals, you may need to add an extra snack or two, or make your meals bigger. A model that works well for many runners is four meals per day – breakfast, early lunch, substantial afternoon snack and then dinner.

4. Optimal hydration

In the cooler months of the year we often forget the importance of maintaining optimal hydration. For runners, water will always be the best choice of fluid and on average we will need at least 1.5-2L each day along with an extra 500ml – 1L for every hour of intense training that we do. If you are a cramper, rather than using high sugar sports drinks, try adding an electrolyte solution such as Hydralyte™ to your water bottle each session.

Thank you to TomTom for providing me with a Runner Cardio GPS Sport Watch . For more information on the TomTom Runner Cardio GPS Sport Watch, head to their website: www.tomtom.com.