TOP SPORTS DIETICIAN AND NUTRITIONIST ALICIA EDGE FROM COMPEAT NUTRITION SHARES SOME TIPS ON HOW TO SNACK FOR PERFORMANCE AND HOW OUR NUTRITION CAN AID RECOVERY.
The need to often rush between home, training sessions and work can mean grabbing food on the go that may not always be the ideal choice. This is particularly the case when it comes to snacks.
With the latest in sports nutrition research highlighting the need to spread protein over the day to optimise training adaptations and recovery, snacking is a critical part of an athlete’s diet. Optimal snack choices can help you get the most out of your hard training by enhancing muscle adaptations and optimising recovery.
Poor snacking habits can lead to over-eating and also impacts performance and overall health. Here are some top tips to help you avoid the convenience options that pack a good energy punch, but not much nutrition value.
1. PLAN AHEAD
This is number one for very good reason! Without thinking ahead and planning food choices for the day or week ahead, achieving any of the other snack goals becomes extremely difficult.
Stock your cupboards at home with mid-meal options that can allow you to build the ideal snack no matter what the day throws at you.
Also consider taking some of these items to your office or workplace to stash in a draw or fridge. This means that no matter what happens in the day, there will be some nutritious snack options available to choose from.
2. ENSURE YOUR SNACK CONTAINS ADEQUATE AMOUNTS OF PROTEIN & SOME HEALTHY FATS
Both protein and fats are critical parts of your daily intake and will also help keep you satisfied after eating. Managing your appetite with a high training load can be difficult, so incorporating these nutrients help to ensure your energy levels remain consistent throughout the day.
Spreading protein evenly throughout the day via meals and snacks is also important for optimising training adaptations and also enhancing muscle recovery between sessions – particularly when we often have less than 24hrs to recover for the next session. As a guide, snacks should aim to contain 15-25g of protein from quality food choices.
3. THE CARBOHYDRATE CONTENT SHOULD REFLECT YOUR DAILY TRAINING DEMANDS
Similar to your coach periodising your training program to the training block and day, your nutrition should do a similar thing. Gone are the days of all athletes following a high carbohydrate diet all the time. The past 20years of sports nutrition research has highlighted to us the need to adapt intake to reflect training demands. In particular, carbohydrate intake should be changed on a daily basis. So if you know you fall into the group of people that consumes a similar intake each day, you may be missing out on the performance benefits of periodising your nutrition intake.
Basically, as your training demands increase, so to does your carbohydrate requirements. On a light training day, our muscles don’t need to use much of their carbohydrate muscle stores, as the carbohydrate available from our blood stream and liver is enough to fuel most of our general activities over the day.
However, as heart rate increases and training load increases, our body turns to our muscle carbohydrate stores for energy. Therefore, we need to allow adequate carbohydrate intake to fuel these sessions, and also enough carbohydrate after these sessions to restock muscle carbohydrate stores.
So, with these goals in mind, the table on the next page shows some snack ideas that can be incorporated into your day that offer optimal amounts of protein and carbohydrate, are adapted to match your day’s training demands, satisfy appetite and are (most importantly!) convenient.
NOTE: These ideas do not include portions, as these will be highly dependent on the individual and your body composition goals. For more personalised information, it is recommended you consult a Sports Dietitian (www.sportsdietitians.com.au/findasportsdietitian).