Author: Renu Puri
Being an athlete is not easy, it comes with a lot of pressure – pressure to look good, pressure to compete well, pressure to be at the best of your health, and whatnot. In this hustle and bustle, one tends to forget the key element of succeeding as an athlete – hard work and nutrition.
Some people overwork themselves and still don’t see any positive results, while others may not work as hard but still see results. The reason for this is a good diet. As an athlete, it is important to know the ins and outs of nutrition. That is the reason we are presenting you with 10 power nutrition tips for endurance athletes!
If you’ve ever played a sport or run a marathon, you would know how essential it is to stay fit and have a proper diet. Athletes who train for competitions are advised a very strict diet and workout regime to stay at the top of their game. Let’s be real – contending in a sports competition is a full-time commitment, one that takes up a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. Hours of training is just one facet of the commitment, to make the most of your endurance training, you need competition planning and strategy, routine setting, muscle recovery, technical considerations, and the most important of them all – a nutritious diet. If there is a setback in any of the above-stated facets, your performance is bound to take a massive dip.
Think of food as fuel and your body as a machine. If you work a sedentary job, your body would need lesser food for fuel as it would not burn as many calories at rest. Whereas, if you are working a more active job that requires you to run around then your body would need more food for fuel to have the energy to do those tasks. Your diet should always depend on your activity levels, and for athletes, there should be a good balance between calories going in and calories going out.
Have you heard of the famous American long-distance runner Ryan Hall? Ryan Hall was one of the top marathon runners in America who holds the U.S. record in the half marathon. He was the first American to break the one-hour barrier in the event and run a sub-2:05 marathon. Despite his record-breaking performances, he observed a lot of inconsistencies in his performance.
After months of evaluation, he concluded that the core culprit of this was his diet. He slowly started to notice all the loopholes and irregularities in his diet and decided to make a change. He started studying nutrition and was blown away by the benefits of a plant-based diet. He thereby made a commitment to become vegan and started including nutritious options in his balanced diet that would give him enough energy for his training. Along with that, he also made it a habit to have about 5-6 liters of water every day so he could make the most of his ability to perform.
The change in Ryan’s diet made an astronomical impact on his athletic performance and helped him boost his stamina. He noticed that he was much more energetic, was able to train for longer periods of time, and took very less time to recover from an injury or a spasm. He ran his personal best marathon time, and his improved performance helped him to become a top competitor in marathons around the world.
Even though Ryan has retired now, his legacy carries on. His story is a great example of how proper nutrition can make a huge impact on endurance training and athletic performance. No matter how talented or skilled you are as an athlete, if you don’t have a nutritious diet and are unaware of your dietary requirements, chances are that you will not be able to hone your talent beyond a point.
As an athlete, not only is it important to understand the nutritional value behind everything you put into your body but the timing and portion size also can make or break your endurance. After all, there’s nothing worse than putting in all the work, allotting time, and having all the focus in the world but still drifting away from your end goal.
We have a lot of athletic clients and supporters – some do it for leisure while some are professionals. Today, our certified nutritionists have teamed up to write a blog exclusively for them. Read on to find out 10 power nutrition tips for endurance athletes.
We have always been told to stay away from carbs without proper reasoning. The notion that “carbs are bad for you” has penetrated the entire nation. If you’re an athlete and are a follower of this ideology, it’s time to change the narrative and do a quick fact-check. Carbohydrates are pivotal for energy for athletes and people who do endurance training. Why you may ask? These carbs help athletes maintain their energy levels during prolonged physical activity. An athlete should consume about 4 to 7 grams (g) of carbohydrates per kilogram (kg) of body weight (BW) per day.
Carbs are broken down into glucose which is then utilized by your muscles for sources of energy. If you do High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts, do not give up on carbs or you will start losing muscle mass. Carbs can also help delay fatigue and exhaustion by offering a constant supply of energy. Think of it this way, if there is no energy in your body and you have to run for 10 more kms, you will over-exert your body and increase your chances of injury.
Bananas are great sources of carbohydrates and can really help supplement your workout. Including bananas in your diet and consuming them before, during, and after your exercise routine can really amp up your energy levels. You can also include whole grains, sweet potatoes, brown rice, oats, and beans as good sources of carbohydrates in your diet.
Eating the same foods every day can lead to monotony and become boring over time. By including a good variety of foods, athletes can make their meals enjoyable. Adding green leafy vegetables, yellow lentils, and orange fruits can make your plate look appetizing. Not just that, by adding a variety of foods to their plate, athletes can ensure they're getting adequate amounts of protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals to support their health and performance.
In our experience, we have seen that a lot of athletes consume the same kinds of food every day and end up having nutritional deficiencies. These nutritional deficiencies slowly creep up and worsen your performance so make sure to add lots of variety to your plate so you don’t miss out on important nutrients.
A varied diet can also help athletes maintain healthy body weight by providing a balance of macronutrients and limiting the intake of high-calorie, nutrient-poor foods. This can help you perform to the best of your abilities and reduce the risk of a potential injury.
Endurance training can make you sweat like a pig. You know it, we know it, everyone knows it! The reason for this is that whenever you work out, your body temperature increases and your body starts sweating to avoid overheating. Hydration ensures that the water you’re losing through sweating is being replenished to avoid potential setbacks like cramps, severe exhaustion, and heat strokes.
Water isn’t called the elixir of life for the heck of it. It has immense benefits, not just for athletes but for people in general. It helps maintain blood volumes and ensures steady transportation of essential nutrients and minerals while flushing out toxins.
Dehydration is the leading cause of reduced endurance which is why you would notice that every athlete has a bottle of water in their hands at most times. Remember when Cristiano Ronaldo ditched Coca-Cola for a bottle of water at a press conference? It was iconic. If the world’s best football player can prioritize a bottle of water over carbonated drinks and sugary juices despite having all the money in the world, so can you. If you don’t like the taste of plain water, you can mix in electrolytes for added energy and flavor.
Protein is the building block of the muscle. Although it might not give you the kind of energy carbs do, it will help you build muscle. Whether it is for swimming, javelin throw, long jump, running a marathon, lifting weights, or just normal cardio, athletes would need double the energy as opposed to a regular person doing these tasks.
Since there is a lot of wear and tear on the muscles during intense physical activities that athletes partake in, Adequate protein intake is important for repairing and rebuilding these damaged muscle fibers. The more protein the athlete takes, the faster they will recover from muscle damage and injuries.
There are many hormones in our bodies that regulate our metabolism, muscle growth, and recovery. These hormones are made of protein and play a crucial role in the adaptive response to exercise and hormone production.
When we eat protein, our body’s natural response is to break it down into amino acids during the process of digestion. Once broken down, these amino acids foster the production of more proteins. This is why it is essential to keep replenishing the proteins in your body otherwise the body would have to break down its own muscles to gain the amino acids needed for the body to function.
Sleep is essential for our well-being, health, and overall sanity. We always tell our athletic clients to prioritize the quality of sleep over the quantity of sleep. If you get sound sleep for 6 hours you will wake up feeling fresh and energized but if you get a disturbed sleep for as long as 9 hours, you will wake up feeling groggy,irritated and probably in a mood to eat comfort food. It is essential to get sound sleep for better cognitive performance, physical development, emotional regulation, and just a better quality of life.
Sleep also gives your body time to recover and heal from injuries and helps you perform better. It is also important for reducing stress and improving mood. Stress and fatigue can negatively impact athletic performance, and quality sleep can help reduce stress levels and improve the overall body functioning of the athlete.
We recommend setting a bedtime routine to establish discipline and focus with regards to your sleep timing. Once you become used to a routine, your body will be accustomed to sleeping and waking up at a particular time as opposed to sleeping late at night after scrolling through all the irrelevant reels on Instagram. If you find it hard to set a bedtime routine, try establishing a peaceful sleeping environment-dim your lights, play some white noise and close your eyes. Try doing this for a week straight and see the magic unfold!
There are three macronutrients that are indispensable for an athlete – Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats. The word “fat” in day-to-day lingo equates to something that is absolutely dangerous for you and could make you gain weight and cause morbidities. We always say this – half knowledge is dangerous. It can mislead you into making false perceptions about something.
No, not all fats are bad. In fact, some fats are really good for your health. Although they take the longest to digest as compared to carbs and proteins, they can help offer energy and regulate hormone production leading to enhanced athletic performance. Dietary fats are pivotal for proper brain functioning, which is critical for decision-making, reaction time, and overall cognitive health.
However, It is important to understand that not all fats are created equal, and just because niwi.ai told you to eat fats does not mean you would rush to a McDonald’s drive-through and order yourself a Maharaja Mac. It is recommended to focus on consuming healthy sources of fats such as nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, and fatty fish. Saturated and trans fats should be completely avoided if you’re an athlete as they can depreciate your performance and endurance.
Whether you believe it or not, almost all top athletes work with registered dietitians to stay in shape, learn high-performance techniques, and be in their best health. This is because nutritionists and dietitians can guide athletes towards the right path and fulfill their daily dietary requirements as per their physical activity, busy schedules, genetics, deficiencies, and even food preferences.
Our registered dietitians at niwi.ai have worked with many athletes to streamline their nutrition and health by creating customized nutrition plans tailored to the specific needs of each athlete based on their sport, training schedule, and individual body composition.
We believe sports can place a lot of pressure on athletes to maintain a certain body weight or appearance, and a certified nutritionist can help to prevent disordered eating and promote a healthy relationship with food. We always encourage our clients to understand how to fuel their bodies for training and competitions while also educating them on the importance of each food they are putting in their bodies.
The diet plans at niwi.ai are very flexible and our dietitians are not like traditional dietitians who send you a diet chart and disappear till it's time for the next one. No, our programs include counselling and education as well. We believe the answer to everything lies in asking questions. We acknowledge all the questions our clients ask us, whether it’s a serious one about endurance training or a goofy one about getting 6 pack abs while eating junk food. We do it all!
What are you waiting for?
From nutrition guidance to customized meal planning to motivating you, we do it all. Our registered dietitians take into consideration your body type, ailments, and goals to help you build endurance naturally through a nutritious diet chart.
Ready for a health revolution? Join us on our mission to transform the nutrition landscape!
For any queries, Write to us at email@example.com or call us at +91-8800874676.
At niwi.ai, we have helped thousands of clients transform their lives and feel stronger, more energetic, and definitely more confident in how they look and feel, by improving their relationship with food!