Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Eating for Sport - Cross Country

Long distance running is demanding on the body; not only with energy requirements, but with the toll it takes on muscles. For that reason, proper nutrition cannot be over-looked. Miles add up very quickly throughout the course of the season so having a nutrition plan to help you keep up with your nutrient needs is absolutely necessary.

Photo Credit: Women's Health Magazine
Are you meeting your energy demands? A 10 mile run could burn around 1,000 calories! A diet for runners should be comprised of mostly carbohydrate. By now, I am sure most of you have heard coaches or other people tell you to eat carbohydrates. Carbohydrates, when metabolized in the body, are converted into glucose. It is glucose that it is stored in muscles as glycogen. Your body is only able to store up to certain amount of glycogen and then it must be replenished by food after it is depleted. It is not like fat where your body has a high storage capacity.

Become familiar with foods that are high in carbohydrate. You probably already have some favorite pre-event snacks, but take a minute to look at them closely to see how much carbohydrate they actually offer you. Your carbohydrate intake should reflect how much you are training. If you doing extra training that day, eat more carbs. Your daily carbohydrate needs should be in the range of 3-4.5 grams per pound of body weight.

Protein and fat are still important in an athlete’s diet. Protein is needed to help build and repair muscle tissue. Eat approximately 0.55-0.64 grams per pound of body weight of protein per day.

Fat is needed for the absorption of some vitamins, insulation, and the production of hormones in the body. Fat should make up about 20-35% of your total calories for the day. Focus on unsaturated fats due to their added health benefits.

Being too restrictive with calorie intake will negatively affect your performance because it will not allow your body to properly fuel and refuel for your events. For women, eating too few calories can cause disruptions in her menstrual cycle. Loss of menstruation is not a normal part of training and should be discussed with a physician. The low levels of estrogen related to missing periods can impair bone mineral density, which can increase the risk for developing other health concerns such as osteoporosis.

A common nutrition concern for long distance runners, especially females, is iron. Many runners are at an increased risk for developing an iron deficiency, especially if they do not eat a lot of meat. When people suffer from an iron deficiency, they feel fatigued. But before running to the store and buying iron supplements, please seek advice from your personal or team physician. Iron supplements, like other supplements, have the potential of causing adverse effects if they are taken when they are not necessary.

Ready to head out for your long run? Choose a pre-exercise snack that, of course, is high in carbohydrate but also lower in protein, fat, and fiber. Eating foods that are high in these will likely cause some stomach upset while on your run because they take your body longer to digest. The longer time you have before you run, the larger meal or snack you can have without worry about it bothering your stomach. Don’t forget about eating after you get back! Eating a snack immediately after your run will help you replenish your energy stores. Choose a snack that is high in carbohydrate, but also offers some protein. Protein will help repair your muscles and allow you to recover more effectively before your next run. You are not done with your training until you eat your post-run snack!

As with any other sport, making sure you have adequate hydration is key to optimal performance. It only takes a 2% loss of body weight caused by dehydration to significantly impact your performance.

No comments:

Post a Comment