Luke is a teacher in Ross-on-Wye. I met him recently when he invited me to speak at his school. After my talk he took me on a stunning 10-mile run down the Wye Valley. I wish that happened regularly after my talks!
As well as being a very busy teacher, Luke also combines a lot of endurance sport (cycling, running and triathlon) with a knowledge of exercise science (BSc and PhD in Sport and Exercise Science).
I was particularly impressed with his budget tips on sports nutrition: McDonald’s espresso before races, Frij to recover afterwards!
So I asked if he would be kind enough to share some knowledge with us. Have a look at his blog here. Here’s what he has to say:
1) Be healthy but realistic. Processed foods taste nice for a reason – they’ve added fat, sugar and salt. However, only a madman would pass up a Jaffa Cake on health grounds, they are the crack of the snack world.
2) Be prepared nutritionally if you want to perform. Eat and drink before, during and after. All this low carb diet business is great for when you aren’t exercising… When you are, you need to eat carbohydrate.
Basically, 99% of the time eat before you train but don’t eat loads, and ignore what people say about not consuming carbs immediately before exercising. They say you’ll get a sugar rush then crash when you start… they are wrong.
Drink and eat during training. Sports drinks are good but you can save money by mixing cheap pure orange juice 50:50 with water + a pinch of salt.
Afterwards you need to be consuming a mix of fluid, carbohydrate and protein in that order of importance. The mix of those depends on the exercise intensity and your dehydration status.
I’m a big fan of recovery shakes as they are easy to plan with – I have a habit of forgetting to eat properly after exercise. I’ve used SIS Rego and that ticks all the relevant boxes as I just take a little bag of powder to mix up after. The other way forward is Frijj type chocolate milk from the garage-supermarket, buy the low fat stuff (look on the back ~2 g fat per 100 ml) and get drinking. Incidentally the latest research suggests caffeine can help here by increasing carbohydrate re-synthesis… skinny double shot Mochacinno with 3 sugars anyone?
3) Want to go faster? Consume caffeine. It is simple, caffeine improves performance. By and large I would ignore concerns about the diuretic effect of caffeine (unless it’s very hot or humid and you don’t plan on drinking) – the net effect in almost all conditions is to make you go quicker. To get your caffeine you can drink espresso (a double 30 min before exercise) or take ProPlus. I would save the ProPlus for race day… everything in moderation. Continuing to take caffeine throughout an exercise bout (if it’s longer than a hour or two) would also help. ProPlus hidden inside a flapjack works (but tastes foul) so I would suggest SIS Smart Gels as they have caffeine and can be taken without water – perfect for running. I’m also a big fan of McD’s drive-thru for my coffee fix on the way to race/train – just don’t pop the cup in between your legs before the roundabout…
Essentially, it’s not hard to have an idea about what consitutes ‘good’ sports nutrition. However, poor habits in this area are very often the reason for a poor performance or a bad training session. You need to develop effective habits to ensure you’re ticking the boxes of hydration, energy and nutrients. Don’t get hung up on buying the most bling sports drink out there – it’s easy to forget that the differences between good products and ‘best’ products is minuscule. What’s much more important is that you are following the correct guidelines – essentially consuming fluid and carbohydrate before, during & after exercise. Everything else is a bonus.