Kick start your spring training with a focused diet
By Shauna Schultz, RD
Spring and its promising weather kicks off training for Summer and Fall endurance events. Whether it’s cycling, running, swimming, or all three if you’re a triathlete, many of us are getting ready to prepare for the upcoming endurance season. I myself am preparing for my second Spartan event and mapping out my endurance running season.
Perhaps you are well versed in endurance, strength and core training – but what about nutrition? Any good training program should include a solid nutrition plan. In fact, nutrition is often the missing link. How you fuel your body daily before, after and during training all influence performance and recovery. A well-planned and focused diet can take performance to the next level.
Establishing nutrition goals is part science and part art but should include adequate energy intake, adequate overall diet, replenishment of muscle and liver glycogen from carbohydrates, adequate protein intake for growth and repair of muscle, adequate hydration, appropriate weight and body composition, and strategies for different types of food and timing (Maughn, R., The Athlete’s Diet: Nutritional Goals and Strategies).
Understanding these goals is one thing, but what about translating them into meal planning? A good place to start is by learning your needs (see table) and how your current diet compares (try using a diet and fitness app to track and evaluate). In this article, we will focus on daily needs as your overall diet supports the demands of training.
What Are the Best Foods to Choose?
Choose whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, farro, barley, whole wheat and starchy vegetables to help meet carbohydrate needs; fruits and vegetables with each meal; lean protein sources including plant-based options like legumes and healthy fats like avocado, nuts and seeds. When you choose a variety of whole food sources you get a package deal: an ideal mix of carbohydrate, protein and fat to fuel energy needs along with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals to combat inflammation, boost immunity, aid in recovery and replenishment and assist in yielding energy from food.
Once you feel comfortable with your daily meal planning, it’s time to focus on fuel and fluid strategies for before, during and after training and competition. Don’t wait to start making your nutrition plan – supporting training early on is key! In need of ideas? See below for an energizing and balanced breakfast or recovery meal that provides lasting energy.