Feeding Endurance Performers

When an endurance athlete is training one of the most important components is the balance of their diet. Each athlete will have an individual plan of what they eat over any given period of time, and just as important to them as well as what they do eat is what they don’t eat.

An enduring image of the Rocky I movie was  Rocky drinking a large glass of raw eggs before going on an early morning run on the streets of Philadelphia. While eggs are good source of protein for building muscle they are not necessarily the best food source for building stamina.

The diet of the endurance athlete changes from training diet, to pre-race diet to post race diet. During training the athletes are looking to increase their levels of endurance and they do this by eating slow digesting carbohydrates like oat meal. Oatmeal is also no fattening.

Salmon, kale and spinach

Another similar food is Quinoa which provides carbohydrate and protein. It also provides vital minerals such as iron zinc and copper. This is vital as endurance training rids the body of its minerals so it is important to replace them as effectively and quickly as possible.

Vegetables such as kale, spinach and sweet potatoes also provide the necessary balance between carbohydrates, protein and minerals. Salmon and chicken are the necessary meats as they provide lean protein helping the body to recover after hard training sessions. The best fruits are bananas as they are loaded with carbohydrates to provide energy burst and are consumed during at any time by athletes.

As athletes get close to events they need to store as much carbohydrates as possible. However, it should be a gradual build up. A massive bowl of spaghetti the night before the race will merely bloat the athlete. A steady build up should insure that the athlete is bursting with energy without feeling weighed down.

All endurance athletes use gels

During races top class performers will work out what they are able to eat and drink during an event. The food that is consumed is often in the form of gels that produce carbohydrate by providing sugars. This is essential as the harder the competitor works the more the natural stores of glycogen in the body are reduced. When this occurs performance will then suffer.

Gels are essential as it is impossible for the body to digest solid food. The other way that the competitors can restore natural levels of glycogen is by what fluids they use. The top class competitors will have their own individual drinks that are made up specifically to the needs of the individual athlete. Every athlete is different and their drinks will reflect this.

For the majority of people who train hard for major endurance events the best part of the day is the post-race meal, or meals. After a race the majority of competitors have destroyed their body and it is important to start to repair it as soon as possible.

This is best done by raising carbohydrate and protein levels with many small meals. In fact this is the only time when the endurance athlete is encouraged to eat to excess and for those concerned with the thought that they have burnt so many calories during the race that it will be virtually impossible for them to undo all of their hard work.

There is no do doubt that as well as the endurance athlete showing discipline in their training programs they need to adopt the same approach in their attitude towards their eating plans. The margin between success and failure in top class sport is minimal, and by adopting sound eating plans can mean the difference between winning gold, and just finishing among the rest of the field.

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