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Gluten Free Eating – Putting it into Practice

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Training & Racing Fuel

Now I know a lot of you are interested in learning what gluten free foods/fuel I use in my training and racing. I am going to share this with you, but do warn that you may be a little disappointed. I say this because, quite honestly, I keep it pretty simple. Your nutrition plan doesn’t have to be a complex science experiment, nor do you need a science degree to devise one. Quite simply, you need to determine what foods work best for you, experiment a little with the quantity, combinations, and timing of ingestion, and stick to what works.

So without further adieu, here you go!

Training

Your fueling requirements are going to differ with the phase of training you are in, and your specific goals related to training intensities and body composition. At present I am focussing on building a big aerobic base and improving my body composition, thus my training fuel is kept to a minimum. I stick to water for hydration, and natural foods for fuel – banana’s and dates being my preferred fuel source. I will throw in a protein/natural food bar if I need it on longer/harder workouts.

For my bars I stick to products that are made entirely from natural food sources, including dates, almond butter, nuts, seeds, coconut, coconut oil, fruit and usually some sea salt. There are plenty of options available in health food stores and supermarkets world wide, or you can make your own. I mostly stay away from sports performance drinks in training, but do introduce them at the end of hard workouts leading into races so that my body is used to ingesting them. If I haven’t raced for a while or am not racing often I will do a race nutrition simulation 2 weeks out from the race, although generally you will get plenty of testing done in your low-key races.

Training fuel sources

  • Bananas
  • Dates (I personally prefer the big, juicy Californian dates)
  • Natural food bars (homemade or a few preferred brands whilst traveling)
  • Snickers bars for long, hard sessions (or if I find myself out on the road needing more fuel – you can find them everywhere)
  • Cytomax sports performance drink (race simulation)
  • Muscle Milk protein powders (for recovery)

Racing

I always race with the same nutrition plan, and that is giving my body what it wants, when it wants it. Whilst this can differ slightly, it is only slight. I use the same fuel sources; I might just change up when I ingest what. Things that affect this include your current level of fitness, heat, humidity, cold (I need more calories during cold races), race tactics etc.

As mentioned above I stick to the same fuel sources, adding in more concentrated fuel sources to my race nutrition plan.

Racing fuel sources

  • Bananas, dates and natural food bars as above
  • Snickers bars (NB: Mars Bars are NOT gluten free)
  • Cytomax sports performance drink
  • Cytomax energy drops
  • Gel (I use these minimally) – check they are gluten free, although most are
  • Muscle Milk powder varieties for recovery

People often ask me about the Snickers bars – I don’t chow these down every hour!! I cut them in half and pop in a bento box so they don’t melt, and generally stick to 1 in an Ironman race. Sometimes I’ll go 2. I have been known to have half on the marathon, but I was an adventure racer so used to digesting on the run 😉 Generally I would recommend sticking to these on the bike if you want to try them!!

Additionally, here are some of my all time rules for race nutrition:

Rule 1: Never ingest a carbohydrate solution and food/gel at the same time! No questions, just never do it.

Rule 2: Don’t use gels just because others do. Personally my body can only tolerate a small amount of gel, and thus I only use a small amount. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to “teach” my body to tolerate gels, bottom line, they don’t agree with me in large quantities. Everyone is different. Dates are my gel. Natural, tasty, quick release sugar and they are available everywhere (fresh or packaged at a pinch). Again, dates work for me, but might not for you.

Rule 3: Salt requirements are an individual thing, some people need lots, and others need little. You can work this out in an expensive laboratory, or you can experiment. Personally I experimented until I worked out what suits my body in different environments. Don’t forget that your electrolyte drink contains sodium, as do your gels, bars etc so take this all into account before adding salt tablets to the equation.

Day To Day Gluten Free Eating & Nutrition

As I’ve mentioned previously, I stick to a paleo inspired diet, which is naturally gluten free. This is a completely different discussion so I won’t go into detail on this aspect of my diet, but instead give you a good run down on how you can fuel yourself throughout each and every day, with tasty, nutritious gluten free food.

Breakfast

The first step is accepting that things are going to be a little different following a gluten free diet. The tastes and texture of foods will be what stands out, and the cost. A forewarning, the gluten free diet isn’t the cheapest to follow. So be prepared for an adjustment period, remain open to new ideas and if you don’t like something, don’t feel you’re stuck with no options. There is plenty of variety and eventually you’ll work out what you enjoy best.

Cereals

There are plenty of GF cereals available in your local supermarket, no need to visit the health food stores and pay exuberant amounts. You can get everything from GF muesli’s, alternative grain flake cereals, coco-pop and rice bubble (children’s “fun”) cereals, and porridge (forget traditional oat porridges). Quinoa flakes also make a great porridge and are quick and easy to prepare.

NB: Gluten free Oats

There is much controversy over the suitability of “gluten free oats” for people with coeliac disease. Oats are thought to contain gluten through contamination in the manufacturing process. Specialty oats produced in a gluten free facility are available, although oats do contain a protein that mimics gluten, and thus creates adverse effects in some people with coeliac disease.

Toast

There are plenty of gluten free breads on the market. Many are terrible, and could form the brickwork of a house. What is available locally is obviously location and country dependant. Local farmers market’s often have fresh loaves with fewer preservatives than commercial brands, and often provide samples. Trial and error is the best bet here to find one you personally like. I often choose based on the ingredients, as I like to avoid grains such as corn and rice, and opt for more nutritious grains such as quinoa. A blend of flours is often a good middle ground and provides a nicer texture than loaves based on just one flour.

The same goes for baking your own bread. This is my favourite approach, and when I have time is the only GF bread I will touch. As above, a blend of 3 gluten free flours seems to produce the best results. I’ll share some of my favourite recipes on my website soon!

Most gluten free breads are best toasted, and freeze any that you don’t plan on eating within 1 – 2 days for optimal freshness.

Eggs

Eggs are, in my opinion, faultless. I love them. Poached, scrambled, fried in a non-stick pan, hard boiled, soft boiled, or made into omelettes, they are delicious, nutritious and filling. Served on gluten free bread or simply with a side of fruit salad, you can’t go wrong with eggs. NB: I buy only fresh, free range organic eggs – yes they are expensive, but I was victim of salmonella poisoning from contaminated (cheap) eggs in 2010 and refuse to go cheap on them anymore.

Smoothies

A quick, easy and if need be portable breakfast option, smoothies can be tailored to your individual preferences with ease. Personally I freeze my favourite fruits in advance (banana, strawberries, mixed berries, mango, peaches) thus creating a thick consistency to your smoothie. Combine your choice of frozen fruit, almond milk (or dairy, coconut or soy), yogurt (natural or greek is best), and protein powder (my favourite is Muscle Milk, always check the label to make sure it is gluten free) and you have a delicious meal or substantial snack in minutes. You can add extra ingredients to your smoothies, such as LSA (crushed linseeds, sunflower seeds & almonds), your favourite nut butter (careful on the portions here), coconut oil, cinnamon and maple syrup or honey.

Lunch

Now if you’re used to eating sandwiches, your days of eating sandwiches, as you know them is over. Accept and move forward. Gluten free breads simply don’t taste that pleasant untoasted, and due to the denseness of the alternative ingredients used, the slices are generally smaller for the same caloric content.

Salads

It is amazing how filling and satisfying a good salad can be. If you’re thinking of simple lettuce, tomato and cucumber salads, forget it. Salads don’t need to be boring. Think colour and variety.

My favourite salad ingredients include:

  • Dark green leafy salad base (baby spinach, rocket, kale, mixed greens etc)
  • Colourful raw or cooked vegetables (roasted vege’s are my favourite)
    Protein (boiled eggs, leftover chicken or meat, pancetta or ham)
  • Cheese (goats fetta, haloumi, parmesan are my picks)
  • Avocado
  • Nuts and seeds (walnuts, macadamia’s, almonds, sunflower seeds etc)
  • Healthy dressings like simple balsamic, olive oil, salt and pepper

Obviously you wouldn’t use all of these in one salad, mix it up and get creative.

Quinoa

An amazing gluten free food which can be served with some salad or protein, or can be used in a salad as you would cous cous (of which is not gluten free!). I have some amazing quinoa recipes I’ll share on my website shortly.

Eggs

As per breakfast, eggs are brilliant any time of the day. Leftover frittata with some salad is a favourite of mine.

Smoothie

Again as per breakfast a smoothie is a quick, portable lunch option.

Rice cakes

Top rice cakes (thick, thin, flavoured, unflavoured) with your favourite ingredients. A good base to spread onto rice cakes is avocado, hummus or tahini. Top with some protein (tuna is great, sliced egg, chicken, ham) and a little vegetable (baby spinach, rocket, sundried tomato, fresh tomato, herbs) and a little sprinkle of fetta or cheese of your choice. Finish with salt and pepper.

Sandwiches and rolls

Now whilst gluten free bread is very different to what you may be used to, you can still have a sandwich, hamburger, or focaccia. There are an increasing number of specialist bakeries producing gluten free bakery products including hamburger and hot dog buns, focaccia bread, Panini’s, bread rolls, lavish type breads etc.
From experience I would recommend at least lightly toasting these products before use, although personal preferences will come in to play here. Gluten free bread products are becoming more widely available in café’s and restaurants, just make sure they know you are coeliac if that’s the case so they’re aware for cross contamination purposes.

Dinner

To be honest not much really has to change here. You may have to alter the brands you buy for particular sauces and dressings, although every dish you have enjoyed previously should have an easy to prepare gluten free alternative.

Gluten free alternative for popular ingredients:

  • Pasta: gluten free pasta (you can also get gluten free lasagne sheets)
  • Cous cous: quiona (cook like you would rice)
  • Wheat noodle varieties: rice noodles
  • Gnocchi: Gluten free gnocchi varieties are available or you can make your own
  • Soy sauce: Tamari or gluten free soy sauce
  • Stir fry sauces and marinades: Plenty of gluten free brands available – most should be labelled gluten free, if not the check ingredients list for wheat, malt vinegar, barley malt or malted barley.
  • Salad dressings: As above for sauces, watch especially for malt and barley, especially in creamy dressings.
  • Sausages: Gluten free sausages in supermarkets & most butchers

Desserts

I can guarantee that this one will get you more often than not during social gatherings, unless your friends are also gluten free, or know you are and are very thoughtful people! Gluten free desserts are easy to prepare and there are alternatives for almost every dessert out there. I will share some of my favourites on my website over time so keep an eye out for them!

One point of note is the ingredient wheat glucose syrup – despite the word wheat, this particular ingredient is said to be so highly processed that the gluten cannot survive the manufacturing process. You will find wheat glucose syrup in some ice creams and confectionary. Provided there are no other gluten containing ingredients (look out for wheat starch and barley malt) you are safe to eat these products. The same goes for dextrose. For further clarification please consult a coeliac support website.

Snacks

Snacks are easy if you ask me, start with fresh fruit, yoghurt (natural or greek are my favourite), hummus with vege sticks or rice crackers, mixed nuts, boiled eggs, gluten free muesli bars or home made slices/muffins, the choices are endless. Always be sure to check ingredient labels and allergy warnings, and if unsure, don’t eat it!!

So there you have it, a little insight into how I fuel myself during training, racing, and in everyday eating, on a strict gluten free diet. As you can see, you’ll never go hungry, and although you will have to make some changes, once you get your head around what you can eat and what you can’t, it’s really pretty simple. Sometimes change is a good thing!!

Karl is a keen age group triathlete who races more than he trains. Good life balance! Karl works in the media industry in Australia and is passionate about the sport of triathlon.

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Nutrition

Recovery Smoothie – Supercharged Green and Berry Smoothie

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After a long hard workout I like to get fueled right away. I find it easiest for me to get down a smoothie rather than solid food. By making a smoothie I am able to pack it full of nutrient dense foods. Below is my “go to” –

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Green & Berry Super Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 16 oz Coconut water
  • 8 oz Hemp milk
  • 1 Banana
  • 2 cups Baby Spinach
  • 1 cup Frozen Blueberries
  • 6 leaves Tuscan Kale
  • ½ Gold beet large
  • ½ nugget of fresh turmeric root
  • 1 serving Favorite plant based protein powder I use Vega Performance protein berry flavor for this
  • 2 tbsp Chia seed
  • 1 tbsp Acai powder
  • 1 tbsp Maca powder
  • 1 tbsp Spirulina
  • 4 large ice cubes

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients into a high power blender such as Vita mix. Process until smooth. Consistency can be adjusted with cold water as you are processing.

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Nutrition

A Healthy Spin on a BLT

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Photo: Shutterstock

 

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BLT

Heirloom Tomato with Eggplant Bacon and Frisee
Servings 6 serves

Ingredients

  • 4 Tomatoes Heirloom variety
  • 1 Japanese eggplant Large
  • 3 heads baby frisee
  • ½ Maui Onion
  • ½ bunch Red Radish
  • ½ cup Vegan Mayonnaise Hampton creek, which can be purchased at local markets
  • 2 Lemon
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cayenne Pepper

eggplant marinade

  • 2 tbsp Amino acids
  • 1 tbsp Brown sugar
  • 1 tsp Maple syrup
  • ¾ tsp Liquid smoke
  • ¼ tsp Cayenne

Instructions

For the Eggplant

  1. It is best to prepare the eggplant 1 day in advance using a dehydrator. If a dehydrator is unavailable eggplant can be prepared in oven. 

  2. Remove stem and slice eggplant approximately 1/8 -1/4 inch thick on mandolin. Place eggplant in marinade and be sure each slice is well coated. set aside for 30 minutes. 

  3. Place eggplant slices on dehydrator racks and begin drying. 125 degrees for approximately 12-14 hours. The eggplant should be almost crisp. Once removed from heat and cool the eggplant should crisp through. If it is not crispy continue drying checking every hour. 

  4. Alternately this can be done in an oven. 225 degrees for 1.5-2 hours

For the dressing

  1. Mix mayonnaise with lemon juice to taste and thin slightly with cold water so dressing is pourable. Season with salt and just a touch of cayenne to taste.

For the salad

  1. Clean baby frisee and clip edges of any discolored leaves.

  2. Slice maui onion paper thin using mandolin.

  3. Slice radish paper thin using mandolin

  4. Remove stem and core from tomatoes. The tomatoes can be cut into bite size pieces. Place tomatoes on plate. Seasing with salt and cracked pepper.

  5. Dress baby frisee in lemon dressing and place on top of tomatoes. 

  6. Garnish salad with maui onion and sliced red radish.

  7. The eggplant “bacon” can be broken into pieces and placed over top. Enjoy.

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Nutrition

Quinoa Tacos

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Quinoa Tacos

Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Red quinoa uncooked
  • 1 ¼ cup Water + ½ cup
  • 1 white onion large
  • 1 cup Tomato based salsa
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1 tbsp Chile powder
  • 1 Tsp Cumin
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 dozen Corn tortillas
  • 2 Vine ripe Tomatos
  • 1 bunch Kale stemmed and washed
  • 2 Avocado

Optional Cashew Crema

  • 1 cup Raw Cashews
  • 1 tbsp Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 tbsp Cider Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Bring 1 ¼ cup water to a boil. Season with 1 heavy pinch of salt. Once boiling add quinoa and reduce heat. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Remove heat and set aside 5 minutes.

  2. While quinoa is cooking prepare garnish. Cut tomato medium dice. Chiffonade kale. Slice avocados.

  3. Cut onion small dice reserving ½ cup for garnish. Mince garlic. Sweat onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent.

  4.  Add paprika, chile powder, and cumin to onions and mix on low heat.

  5. Add cooked quinoa, ½ cup water and 1 cup salsa. Heat mixture through and keep warm.

  6. Assemble Tacos. Warm tortillas over open stove flame. Add avocado, spponful of quinoa, kale, tomato & onion. Top with your favorite salsa and cashew crema.

Crema

  1. Cover cashew with boiling water by 1 inch. Let stand 30 minutes – 1 hour

  2. Drain and reserve liquid

  3. Place in blender with remaining ingridients. Blend until SMOOTH adding the reserved liquid until desired consistency (It should look like siur cream)

  4. Chill until cool. Adjust acidity and seasoning with lemon and salt.

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Nutrition

3 Key Tips for Race Day and Recovery Nutrition

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Most triathletes, at every level, spend a great deal of time tweaking their gear and tweaking their training programs. But I’m amazed by the number of athletes who neglect an area of preparation that can potentially have more impact on their performance and results than any other, especially on race day – nutrition.

The effect nutrition can have on performance was highlighted when I was competing in Ironman  70.3 Cairns. Normally I use a Bento box to carry my nutrition, but since Cairns was a 70.3 I decided to try taping my gels to the top tube of my bike. It seemed like a good idea, until the rain came down and I lost all five gels. When you’re burning more than 700 calories an hour you need all the calories you can get and there’s no way you can give your best when you’re running on empty. I ended up coming in fourth. I learnt two important lessons in Cairns – don’t trust tape on a rainy day and take your nutrition seriously if you want to succeed.

Nutrition is a massive topic, so rather than try and cover everything I want to give you my own ‘Bento box’ of ideas, information and tips. Here’s some wisdom that comes out of my own experience and research. Dip into it and grab whatever is helpful. I’ve broken it down into tips that will help you with your nutrition before the race, during the race and after the race. Enjoy!

Before the race

When you are tapering your training load before a race, you’ll need to carefully watch your food intake and reduce it accordingly. Less training means you need less calories, so try to balance your calorie input with energy output. Concentrate on eating healthy, nutritious, balanced meals. Eat clean!

  • 7 days out from a race – continue to eat well, stay with foods you’re used to and don’t overdo the carbs at this point. Sleep is really important, so avoid too much caffeine.
  • 3 days before the race – it’s time to increase your carb intake (by 50% or so) and start loading. Magnesium loading will reduce the likelihood of cramps on race day. Cut down on fibre to lessen the chances of gastric upset and definitely steer clear of the spicy stuff. Keep it simple.
  • The day before the race it’s time for some final carb loading, especially at lunchtime. Your evening meal shouldn’t be too heavy – you definitely want it to be digested before race time in the morning and you want a good night’s sleep – eat earlier rather than later.

Be aware that as you carb-load your weight will increase slightly – your body stores 3g of water for every 1g of glycogen it has stored. You will lose this during the course of the race.

Race day

Your body can store roughly 2000 calories in your muscles and liver as glycogen and in your bloodstream as glucose. When you wake up, you will need to top up the energy you’ve burned overnight. That’s going to be an early breakfast. Experts suggest that you need to consume roughly 2g of carbs per kg of body weight and recommend eating it at least two hours before the race – which makes for a very early start! Keep your breakfast low in fibre, low in fat and easily digestible.

  • Whatever you’re going to eat pre-race, make sure you have ‘road-tested’ it beforehand so you know that your stomach is going to be okay with it. Take into account the pre-race nerves too.
  • Your body can store enough carbs for roughly 60 – 90 minutes of racing, depending on the intensity. That means that when you come out of the water after the swim you’re already heading into calorie deficit and will need to start refueling straight away. You may feel hungry, but eat something anyway – a gel, small snack or sports drink.
  • The bike leg is the best opportunity to get some calories into your body. Most athletes use gels and fluids as their primary source of carbs on the ride. Stick with whatever is kind to your stomach and ensure that you are getting enough energy each hour to set you up for the run.
  • Remember eating isn’t just about providing the required calories. I know some Aussie athletes who love Vegemite sandwiches – they are tasty, high in easily digested carbs and have plenty of salt to help reduce the risk of cramps. I like to carry some treats in my special needs bag. Sometimes a Mars Bar is a good treat which helps me stay positive as well.

Post-race recovery

After a race nothing hits the spot like a cold beer! But it’s important to realise that an Ironman event places a massive strain on your body and recovery is as important as preparation for a triathlete. So, before you drink alcohol, carefully consider how you can quickly begin the refuelling and repairing process. Here are some tips to aid your post-race recovery:

  • Your key goals are to restore your liver and muscle glycogen stores and replace the fluid and electrolytes that you have lost through sweating. Obviously, the extent of these deficits will depend on the intensity of the racing and the conditions you’ve been racing in. For example, Kona is an intense race and even on a good day the heat and humidity are tough. When you cross the finish line your glycogen levels are depleted and you are significantly dehydrated. A cold beer is not going to be enough!
  • It may take up to 24 hours to restore your muscle glycogen levels. Current research indicates that immediately beginning to consume carbs, in the form of high GI foods can help with this process. How much should you eat? The experts suggest consuming 1 -1.5g per kg of body weight of carbs in the first few hours is optimal and about 6 -10g per kg of body weight in total over the first 24 hours will significantly aid recovery.
  • You will also need to rehydrate and replace the sodium lost through sweat. Most sports drinks don’t have quite enough salt, since this can affect the taste, so you can add this in through what you eat.
  • Coffee, caffeine-rich energy drinks and alcoholic beverages may make you feel better, but they’re all diuretics, so they’re not going to help with the rehydration process. Enjoy them sparingly if you want to recover quickly and effectively.
  • Recognise that deliberately and sensibly eating and drinking may be the last two things you feel like doing, so plan for your post-race recovery beforehand and then stick to the plan – your body will thank you and you will recover much quicker after the race.

A final word

I know many triathletes who are more concerned about the fuel they put into their cars than what they put into their bodies. You need to take nutrition seriously – the time and energy you put into developing a nutrition plan that effectively and comprehensively covers training, racing and recovery is a great investment. And it’s an investment that will pay off in helping you achieve your best both on and off the course. Eat healthy, eat right and reap the benefits!

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Nutrition

Healthy and Fast – How to keep your immune system strong

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Why it is so important to keep your immune system strong & why it will help you go faster!

We’ve all heard it before – ‘eat more fruit and veg’, ‘sleep more’ blah blah…. But as endurance athletes and mostly as age group athletes who work and have many other commitments other than training, it is often these points that are ignored for ‘more kms’ in the strive to get faster. In this article, and in following ones, I am going to explain to you why it is vital that you listen to these messages and why there is far more to getting ‘fit’ (& then faster) than just training.

When we train, we are putting our bodies under stress. This stress is designed to break our bodies down slightly, so that when we are recovering from training, we rebuild stronger and faster than before. Sounds simple right???

If we don’t give our body the right conditions to rebuild, or don’t allow it the time to recover, we will end up just breaking it down bit by bit. This so often ends in illness or injury, which is so common in the build up to Ironman race day.

Many studies have shown that ‘moderate’ exercise improves our immune system, giving us greater ability to ward off bugs and prevent injury. However, I don’t consider training for an Ironman, a half ironman or training seriously for shorter races to be ‘moderate’! Above this moderate level of exercise, our bodies immune systems are actually weakened by the long hours we are spending trying to get faster.

To me, a fit athlete is not necessarily a healthy one. So often people will arrive at their ‘A’ race either sick, having been sick or injured. The healthier you can keep yourself and your immune system during the build up to your big race, the more likely you will be able to get through the training and be able to peak at the right time! While it is always a tough juggle, especially for those time poor athletes, try to avoid being one of those athletes with their eyes hanging out of their heads!

There are several key areas that will help you keep that immune system strong and your body absorbing all the training you are putting it through.

Anti-oxidants

Our bodies naturally produce free radicals, which for the chemically  minded, are molecules which lead to destruction inside our bodies. These have been shown to deplete our immune system and can contribute to injury or sickness.  When our bodies are under stress, especially during intense exercise, their production is increased.

Anti-oxidants are the saviours, as they pair with free radicals to stop them being destructive. While our bodies produce some anti-oxidants, during times of stress or high training load, supplementation is vital to keep this balance under control. Foods such as beetroot, sweet potato, berries, red capsicum, oranges and broccoli contain high levels of anti-oxidants. The other way to combat these free radicals is supplementation with Vitamin A, C and E and minerals zinc and iron , which are all high in anti-oxidants. Alternatively several vitamin manufacturers make a stand alone anti-oxidant supplement. Many leading nutritionists recommend however that you get these from whole foods, as they contain other vitamins and minerals which are essential for good health.

Additionally the typical ‘more is better’ attitude that so many athletes employ has been recently shown not to work with anti-oxidants, (with the exception of Vit. C). Thus a diet rich in whole foods can help to moderate this and give our bodies the required levels and may even help you in the quest to become leaner for that big race.

A more recently researched mineral or flavonoid is Quercetin, which is also a powerful anti-oxidant. Early research has shown this to also be very supportive of our immune system by fighting virus’, have strong anti-inflammatory properties and support cardio-vascular health. Quercetin is found richly in blueberries, apples, red onions, tea and broccoli.  While early studies are limited, it has also been shown so far to improve endurance capacity.

Sleep

When we are asleep our bodies are repairing and rebuilding from the damage we do to them every day by normal life and training. During our sleep our bodies are reaping the rewards of training, not during the actual training itself. Training puts stress on many of our bodies systems and breaks us down slightly, with the effect of this being our bodies ‘super compensating’ and rebuilding stronger and faster than before. Additionally, during our sleep is also the only time our bodies are producing Human Growth Hormone, which is vital for us as athletes to get stronger and quicker.

Considering these facts, if we cut our sleep short, we are not only limiting the amount we absorb from our training, we are also risking injury and illness. This then has a two-fold negative effect on our performance.

Diet

It is vital that while we train and immediately following training that we eat something which contains carbohydrates and ideally protein (especially post exercise). While many of us recognise the importance of this on immediate performance, it is also very important for our immune systems. This is because when our blood glucose levels are low, it triggers our bodies to release stress hormones, which suppress the immune system. Additionally when our bodies don’t have the required protein to ‘rebuild’ post exercise, it makes our immune system further susceptible, as our bodies require protein to build the necessary cells, antibodies and cytokines to fight illness.

An important thing to remember also is that every cell in our bodies is replaced every 6 weeks and during heavy training, even less. Therefore the quality of these cells is highly dependent upon what we give our bodies to produce these cells (nutrition, hydration) and the conditions we expose our bodies to (sleep, stress, training). The higher quality these are, the higher quality the cells will be and therefore the better you will feel and the better you will perform!

So in the lead up to the last races of the season, whether you are just looking to finish or to win, there is far more to performance than just the hours or kilometres. Don’t lose sight of the ‘small things’ which are vital for performance.

The simple message is; if you treat your body well, it will treat you well when it really counts.

 

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Nutrition

5 Tips on Getting the Best Result at Noosa Triathlon from 2-time winner Aaron Royle

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The Noosa Triathlon Multisport Festival kicks off on 30 October, so Trizone chatted to event champion Aaron Royle who offered some key suggestions on how you could make Noosa your best race day yet.

“It’s the most iconic race in Australia, definitely,” says triathlete Aaron Royle, as he chats about the upcoming Noosa triathlon. “It’s iconic, but it has a relaxed feel too.” This unique combination is why the Noosa triathlon is one of the world’s favourite races.

While most triathlon events require you to get accreditation in order to gain access to all the different areas, Noosa is different. “Everyone jokes together, the age-groupers are mixed in with the pros around the venue,” Royle says happily. “A middle aged age-grouper will be stretching and warming up at the same time as I am. I love it. Coming from ITU you don’t get that mix, so I really look forward to this race.”

Joking around together at the start creates a fun, laid back atmosphere at Noosa, yet the competition is as fierce as any other race. Sadly though, the inescapable heat of the race prevents a number of people from finishing every year.

Prepare For The Heat

For those living and training in a cooler climate, arriving a week early can mean the difference between a solid race and a DNF. “There’s tons to see if you arrive early too,” says Royle. “It’s worth getting there and watching Australia’s best athletes in the 5km and other events. Kai Hurst has won the open water swimming race, and Cathy Freeman ran in one of the races in the past. It’s great to watch.”

With world class athletes on show though, you can easily become distracted from taking care of your body. “It’s really hot up at Noosa, so you have to stay hydrated,” warns Royle. “I’ve made that mistake before. I was watching events all day so by the end of the day and I was so dehydrated.”

Aaron’s top tip is to enjoy watching some of the other events, but to make sure you use sun protection, drink plenty of water and don’t forget to go inside, out of the sun throughout the day. The days leading up to the event are crucial for getting your body prepared for the event.

Get Your Nutrition Sorted Before The Race – Hydration Is Key

Hydration is Aaron’s top tip. “The last wave doesn’t start till 9-9:30am, so they finish around lunch time,” he says. “It can be extremely hot for these guys so it’s really important to be hydrated on the bike.”

Unlike other races, you will need more water in Noosa due to the heat. “Do one for one,” Royle advises. “Try 200mls of sports drink to every 200mls of water, or a mouthful of one, then a mouthful of the other. You’ll need to hydrate more than you think, not just carbs from sports drinks.”

As a champion of this race, we asked Aaron to share his mid-race nutrition plan: “I have one gel, 400mls of sports drink and 400mls of water,” he says. “That’s enough for me on the bike. But everyone’s different.”

Plan Your Entry Into the Surf on the Swim

Heading into the Queensland ocean can be a challenge for those without experience in the surf. “Watch the waves in front of you and watch how the pack reacts to them,” advises Royle. “See which side of the waves the swimmers went out the quickest and take the path they took.”

When running from the beach to the transition for the bike, remember you’re on uneven ground. “Be aware of what’s under your feet, like potholes,” Royle adds.

Should You Eat and Drink on the Run?

“I don’t take any nutrition on a 10km run [as] you should be topped up from what you had during the bike” says Royle. “I just wet my mouth. There are plenty of water stations at Noosa, and if you’re not feeling like drinking it, you can chuck it on your head to keep cool.”

Prepare for the Run Course

Aaron Royle hasn’t competed on the new course, which starts on the beach and weaves around the foreshore, rather than wrapping through the canals as it did until 2015. However, he knows the run course well.

“You start out on the road, then turn around and come back on the footpath,” he says. “Remember though, when you turn around, you’re not quite halfway yet. It’s only around 4.5kms. The footpath is more meandering than the road so it’s further.” This is a great tip for those who manage their power output and pace during runs.

For age groupers heading to Noosa from cooler climates – even Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide as it’s been a late winter – it’s handy to realise your body will respond differently in the heat. “Your heart rate is going to be higher,” says Royle. “Your perceived effort will be higher than normal. You’ll also see a difference in your data if you carry a device with you.” Essentially, the heat makes the race feel harder and you’ll notice your heart pounds a little more, so don’t forget that water!

Be Aware Weather Can Evolve During Your Event

As some people don’t start until 9:30am they won’t finish until midday, allowing for evolution of weather and heat. “When morning turns into mid-morning, conditions can change, so it’s important to look at what the weather is doing the night before,” recommends Royle.

Noosa’s Top Hangouts

Like the other competitors from the pros to the age-groupers, Aaron Royle loves the atmosphere of Noosa. “Anything on Hastings street is good for food,” says Royle, “There’s plenty of good pizza. Triathletes tend to be into their coffee, so if you’re after a good coffee just go where it’s busy. Follow the crowd.”

“For a mid-afternoon or evening hangout, head to the Noosa Surf Club but remember don’t overdo the beers until after the race,” says Royle. ‘With alcohol being a diuretic, it’s a guaranteed to dehydrate you so skip the beers the day before.

Aaron Royle’s Top 5 Tips to Prepare for the Noosa Triathlon

  1. Come up a few days or a week early to get acclimatised to the heat
  2. Stay hydrated in the days leading up to the race
  3. Avoid alcohol the day before the race
  4. Solidify your mid-race nutrition and hydration prior to the race
  5. Solidify your bike setup before race day

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