Eating and Endurance Sports by Luke Jones
Some people take part in endurance sports for the ability it provides to consume enormous amounts of food. Although, it is easy to get carried away with the eating particularly when working from home. Weight has a direct impact on performance. Improving power to weight helps to go faster on a bike and also run faster.
I’d always struggled to put on weight until I found triathlon. My appetite can be ferocious and hard to tame. Since competing in triathlon my weight has increased a few kilos, and I found that I needed to change up some of my approach to eating food. I believe in everything in moderation, but needed food which satisfied me. Working from home allows for flexibility with training, and ease to the fridge and pantry. Having snacks which are filling has been important to minimise my stomach raiding parties hunting for food!
I’m always trying to learn regarding endurance sports and have read many articles and watched webinars from various dieticians. I do not profess to be an expert with food, but I’ve picked up some experience in the area over the last few years.
Everything in moderation
My approach to food, is that nothing is off-limits. All food groups have some value, whether it be meeting that craving or fuelling for performance. To me, colour shows nutrients, so I aim for 3 different colours for vegetables and/or fruit in every meal.
Having variety also makes the food taste better, which is probably a personal thing, but as they say, variety is the spice of life! As I’ve become more performance-focused I’ve definitely attempted to reduce my sweets intake, as my body craves more wholesome food which satisfies me. But I can most definitely keen for a sweet pie during a ride. Everything in moderation!
Food that satisfies
My go-to food for breakfast is oats, fruit and Greek yoghurt, while for lunch it is a dense sourdough with salad (leftover chicken if it's available) and egg. While there isn’t evidence that combining foods helps with digestion and/or energy, these type of meals fill me up for hours after consumption, even if I’m training. I found four slices of sourdough is the equivalent satisfying feeling of eating ½ to ¾ a loaf of normal bread, which is more likely to cause an energy spike/crash. Find food that satisfies you for longer and meets your tastes. There are so many options available, I find having both a mix of fats, carbs and protein is the key to feeling satisfied.
1st link: https://habs.uq.edu.au/article/2019/01/what-health-it-bad-combine-carbs-fat-and-protein-each-meal
2nd link: https://www.bbdnutrition.com/2018/06/19/a-new-study-explains-why-carbs-and-fat-together-are-irresistible/
Also, remember that when you feel hungry, a drink of water might do the trick. In fact, I've eaten food, thinking I was hungry when in fact I was thirsty. Hopefully, Im not the only one who experiences this!
Nuts, Yoghurt, Fruit
Having readily available snacks which have nutritional content is important. You will get hungry throughout the day and having food that will satisfy the cravings. Plus, when there isn’t wholesome food available that’s when I search for biscuits J There’s nothing wrong with biscuits and I love Anzac bikkies, but don’t go overboard, everything in moderation right?! For me, nuts, yoghurt and fruit (works great as a pick me up) are my saviours, avoiding consuming anything edible. I’ve noticed they help my recovery (which is often when I’m hungry) after training and I feel good after consumption (which isn’t always the case after some spectacular milkshakes and pancakes together!).
Being happy with your food has a psychological impact on performance.
Let me summarise with don’t get too carried away with trying to lose weight. Doing endurance sports requires a lot of energy, so if you are carrying extra this can be good for reducing injury risk. However, if you are carrying a lot of extra weight, with food, think ‘what will provide me the best fuel for training?’ and I’m sure in no time you will see a change for the better. You need not make drastic changes to diet, just some wiser choices. I enjoy eating food and without fuelling enough I wouldn’t be half the athlete I am. The fundamental thing is consistency, just like with training, change doesn’t happen suddenly. It takes weeks, becoming months and then years to see genuine change.
There is definitely a psychological impact from food, take for example this endurance runner eating his weight in beans. Sure beans are good for you and have a good nutritional profile, but you may start hating them before long if that’s all you eat. Similarly, eating food and not enjoying it can really get you down, which will affect your performance, we need to be happy with our food choices. Having a sensible approach can help you to not feel guilty when it is time to toe the start line and be ready to give your best performance.
Link for above: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4UN0C4zlbc