We are designed to change and grow, for better or worse, depending on what sort of stimulus we put on the body. The more the stimulus, the more effective the adaptation, as long as it is spread out over time. Short-term bursts of stimulus usually cause problems and make us injured or sick. Spread the same amount of signal over a long period of time, and the body will get stronger and healthier. It’s kind of like watering a plant every day rather than flooding it out once or twice a month and then leaving it. You just won’t get healthy growth that way.

The same idea applies to the human body. So often I’ve been asked what you should eat the day of a race. And my answer always causes some raised eyebrows: “it doesn’t really matter - what matters is what you’ve been eating for the last six months.” I’ll take the athlete who eats well every day over the athlete with only a great race day plan. My friend Dr. John Berardi calls this the “myth of game day nutrition.”

The weekend food warrior – the once-a-week intake of quality, fresh foods – is not building daily or long-term health.

Habits form slowly through deliberate effort and 1% changes. No person can revolutionize their eating overnight. It’s all about starting somewhere and then building on that momentum. And once you are eating well, it’s easy to keep the habits going and include other interesting options.

Today's POWER-UP: Sports Nutrition at a Glance

Daily:

  • Eat whole foods, avoiding processed and packaged foods full of refined sugars.

  • Include lots of vegetables of different varieties and different colors.

  • Aim for 6-12 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight spread out in meals throughout the day.

  • Include 1.2-1.8g of protein per kilogram of body weight throughout the day. Each meal should have about 20g. Having 0.5g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight before bed could help offset protein breakdown.

  • Choose healthy fats and incorporate about 2 g per kilogram of body weight per day.

Pre-Workout:

  • 2-1 hours before your workout have a meal high in carbohydrate.

  • <1 hour before have a mixed carbohydrate beverage or snack + BCAA solution.

During Workout:

  • For exercise lasting 30-75 mins a mouthwash of carbohydrate solution may be sufficient for nervous system benefits.

  • For 60 minutes - 2 hours of training aim for 30g of carbohydrate per hour.

  • For 2-3 hours increase to 60g of carbohydrate per hour.

  • For long sessions >2.5hours you will require 80-90g of carbohydrate per hour (a mixture of glucose and fructose will help with absorption).

  • Avoid routine use of commercial sports drinks – instead consider watermelon, coconut water or simple homemade natural sports drinks. 

  • Consider adding a branch-chain amino acid (BCAA) solution to any of these options.

Post-Workout:

  • If you have less than 8 hours between sessions, you should consume 1.2g of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight per hour for the first few hours and a total of 8-9g of carbohydrate per kilogram over the course of 24 hours.

  • For more than 8 hours between sessions refueling can be according to timing that is comfortable and accessible as long as adequate energy and carbohydrate are consumed.

  • Consume 16-20g of protein as soon after your workout as you can and a further 20g every 3 hours for the next 12 hours.

  • Include anti-inflammatory foods such as ginger, turmeric and omega-3s as well as lots of vegetables to reduce the inflammation associated with exercise.