Athlete’s Top 10 Shopping List

For professional, elite and serious amateur athletes, heavy training schedules can mean massive amounts of calories need to be eaten each day. 4500kcal for a rugby player is normal, for a tour cyclist this could be 7000kcal, while for a 45kg gymnast they may only need 1700kcal. Whatever the calorie needs, athletes need to pack in as much nutrition punch as possible. That means forgoing nutrient empty junk food, and swapping for food and drinks that will fuel the training and recovery. So what are the things that regularly appear on the pro’s daily shopping list?

For optimum nutrition, performance and health, there is nothing better than REAL food. The incredibly complex makeup of food simply cannot be artificially produced in a supplement powder or pill. Real food provides phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fibre, protein and possibly, many other beneficial constituents that science hasn’t identified yet.

Sports drinks, supplement shakes and bars can be useful as a stop gap, when good food is not readily available, or when calorie requirements are so high that it is difficult to achieve with food alone. I often use an analogy of the bricks of a house being food, and supplements being the chimney. If you don’t have the nutrition basics of food (walls and roof) in place, it is daft to think that there is any point to having a chimney (supplements).

Here are some top foods that should feature on your shopping list. These are all mostly ‘nutritionally dense’ meaning that they are choca-block full of good nutrition allowing your body to train, perform and recover to it’s maximum potential:

  1. Vegetables – often overlooked in favour of carbohydrates and protein, and served as an after thought with just a spoonful on the plate. Vegetables are absolutely essential to maintain health, providing vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phyto chemicals, fibre etc. all of which simply cannot be bottled or put in a pill. Vegetables also ‘feed’ the healthy bacteria in the digestive system. Easy staples include broccoli, onions, spring onions, peppers, and carrots – not very adventurous, but that is fine! Fresh, frozen, boiled, steamed, microwaved, stir fried, raw…….just get. them. in!LN_012697_BP_9.jpg
  2. Oats – for breakfast, you can’t go far wrong with oats. They are high carbohydrate, so idea to have before or after training. Oats come in various textures, from the very fine in Ready Brek, to the chunky Flahavins. You can add all sorts of things to basic oats to add some oomph: milk, raisins, sliced banana, cocoa powder, cinnamon, desiccated coconut etc. You can also put them in a smoothie for breakfast or for post training recovery. 10 ways with oats
  3. Milk – protein, carbohydrate, low fat, calcium for bones and muscle function. Added to tea, coffee, porridge and breakfast cereals. Research shows that milk post-exercise is just as effective and recovery and rehydration, if not more so, than commercially-available sports drinks005045.jpg
  4. Coffee – because it’s one of life’s pleasures, but also when taken before/during exercise, caffeine has been proven to enhance athletic performance. A recent study showed that two cups of coffee improved endurance performance by 4%.
  5. Peanut butter – good for protein, energy and good fats. If you are trying to drop body fat/weight then go easy as it’s very high in calories – too much is often one of the biggest mistakes for my weight loss clients! Mix a tablespoon in to porridge or spread on oatcakes/rice cakes.
  6. Eggs – one of the most nutritious foods that you can eat: high in protein, omega 3 fats, lutein, choline, all the B vitamins, as well as vitamins A, D, E, K, and iron.  Omelettes, poached, scrambled, fried or to make egg fried rice. You can even mix one in to hot porridge (just don’t put in the microwave with the oats or you’ll get scrambled oat-eggs……yak!)
  7. Rice – carbohydrates are very important for fuelling exercise,
    for recovery, and for the immunity. White rice can be particularly useful when there is only an hour or two between training sessions and fast release carbs are needed. Whole grain rice is higher in fibre, digested more slowly, and is more filling.
  8. Chicken – high protein, low fat, and very versatile. There are endless ways to use chicken: plain grilled, a whole chicken roasted, stir fried, mixed with light mayo and veg in wraps, stuffed with pesto and cheddar cheese. One of the easiest ‘recipes’ is a whole chicken in a slow cooker for 6 hours.
  9. Yogurt – the high protein ones can be particularly beneficial for athletes eg. Total greek yogurt, Danio, Liberte etc These have double the protein of normal yogurts (greek ‘style’ is not usually higher in protein), so good for muscle repair and maintenance. Yogurt also contains ‘probiotics’ which are beneficial for the digestion and immunity.
  10. Salmon – or any oily fish (mackerel, sardines, fresh tuna). Oily fish is the best food source of anti inflammatory omega 3 fats which is essential in every athlete’s diet to reduce muscle inflammation and delayed onset muscle soreness. Aim to take at least 2-3 times a week. If you don’t like any of these fish, then I advise taking daily fish oil supplements.288543.jpg

 

For loads of recipes using all of the above ingredients click…….here!

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7 reasons you’re exercising more and not losing weight

So you’ve started eating better, walking more, going to the gym, or you’re training for a 5km race. Brilliant! You expected the weight to drop off, so why aren’t you seeing RESULTS?

Here are 6 top reasons:

  1. You are ‘good’ all day with your eating and are distracted enough to avoid eating too much. But by the evening you are hungry and attack the bread, cheese, breakfast cereal, biscuits, ice-cream etc. This is the most common mistake I see my clients making. You need to eat more during the day to stop the evening over eating.
  2. Exercising can result in an increase in your appetite, so you eat more. If you are genuinely more hungry, ensure you are eating protein at each meal (eggs, fish, chicken, cottage cheese are great choices), lots of fruit/veg, a high protein yoghurt, milky coffee or tea, water. Consider bringing a meal forward by an hour if you are ravenous.
  3. You eat more before and/or after your session to fuel the exercise. One of the most common mistakes I see is someone having a milkshake drink after 40 minutes in the gym to aid recovery, often followed with in a few hours of a normal meal. A typical bottle of milkshake will provide 300-400kcal, essentially replacing the calories you’ve just burned off. If you are exercising to lose weight, then you need a calorie deficit ie. burning more than you eat/drink.
    Post exercise shakes have their place, but watch the extra calories!

    Post exercise shakes have their place, but watch the extra calories!

    Although extra food/drinks may be necessary for long and strenuous workouts, for shorter workouts less than an hour, the need isn’t as significant. Normal meal and snacks around exercise should be enough eg. snack of an apple or banana 1-2 hours before a workout, yoghurt after.

  4. You are trying to be too healthy – yes really! You’re think you’re doing all the right things – snacking on nuts or rice cakes with peanut butter; lots of avocado in salads; extra pumpkin seeds and flaxseed in your porridge. Thing is, even healthy fats are high in calories: a tablespoon of most nutty things  have about 120 kcal. Half an avocado has about 150 kcal. They all add up.
  5. You think you can eat what you want because you exercise – if only! A 3 mile run will burn approximately 300 kcal. Not an excuse to have 6 biscuits or a whole pizza. Rewarding yourself with high fat/calorie ‘treat’ food can cancel out the good work done. Even professional athletes who have multiple training sessions each day have to be careful with their diets.
  6. You need to change your workout – you run for 40 minutes three times a week, or sit on a exercise bike and do some crunches. Your body adapts to what you do day in day out. You need to challenge your body. If you want to change, you need to change what you are doing!
  7. You sit down for the rest of the day – You have an intensive workout for an hour, so you don’t feel so bad about taking the car for journeys that you could walk. You need to stay as active as you can, humans are born to move. If you feel too exhausted to do anything but sit down for the rest of the day, you are probably over doing the exercise.

4 no effort meals

Most of my sports clients struggle to put the theory of macronutrients, calories, protein and carb grams in to practical day to day meals and snacks. Unless they have a special interest in nutrition, the last thing any player or athlete in training wants to do is to analyse food labels for carbs/protein/fat, or search for the hottest ‘superfood’ ingredient. Passing out on the sofa is mostly what is needed!

So here are four easy, no effort meals using food you can get from any supermarket. All are balanced for protein, carbohydrate and healthy fats, not forgetting important vitamins and minerals from veg. (Quantities depend on the individual, your S & C coach/nutritionist or I can help with that).

Meal 1

4002359642685_LMeatballs, tomato sauce, pasta, broccoli. Cook the meatballs in a frying pan with some olive oil until brown on the outside, add the Dolmio, simmer for 10 minutes. Cook pasta, broccoli: boil/steam in microwave. 600kcal meal: 6 meatballs in the sauce provides 30g protein, a mug of cooked pasta 50g carbohydrate.

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Meal 2

Ready cooked rice, roasted chicken/grilled or stir fried chicken breasts, mixed veg, humous/chilli sauce to dip. Frozen veg can be defrosted/heated in the microwave or boiled in water for a few minutes.

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Meal 3

Rice noodles, baby veg stir fried (add olive oil, soy sauce, ginger puree, garlic puree), chop up 1-2 salmon fillets add to stir fried veg. Salmon can be tinned/fresh/ready cooked.

already cooked, just add to stir fried veg

rice noodles – already cooked, just add to stir fried veg

ready cooked salmon

ready cooked salmon

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Meal 4

1 or 2 jacket potatoes or tortilla wraps, tin of tuna, tablespoon mayonnaise/natural yogurt, 1 whole chopped up red pepper and 2 chopped spring onions mixed in.

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Microwave in 5 minutes

Tuna wrap

Tuna mayo wraps with pepper & spring onion

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Just mix the tuna, chopped pepper, spring onion, mayo and natural yogurt together, and fill the potatoes/wraps.

Super Simple Smoothie

Here’s a super healthy smoothie using REAL food……a complete breakfast containing protein, antioxidants, calcium, vitamin C and soluble fibre. Nutritionally, this is an incredible combination of ingredients. It’s also an easy way to get fruit in to kids!

Unknown-2IDShot_90x90-2Shop bought smoothies tend to be very high in fruit juice, and therefore high sugar.

150ml milk (normal cow’s/Lactofree/almond/rice milk etc.)

1 tablespoons natural yogurt e.g. Total is high in protein

1 banana/handful of oats

Low fat, high protein yogurt

Low fat, high protein yogurt

handful frozen berries

dollop of honey

Whizz the lot up and serve!

5 reasons Mums can’t lose the weight

In the past week, I’ve had at least 5 conversations with other mums about their weight, and how to lose it.  It’s one of those things that just seems to happen…….after each child you don’t quite manage to get to your pre pregnancy weight, then over the years the weight creeps up even more. You feel that you’re not over eating, in fact sometimes you can go most of the day without a meal. And you’re on your feet all day so you must be burning up loads of calories.

So why are the scales not going down? What is going on? In a nutshell, you are eating more calories than you are burning. This can be for a number of reasons:

Here a the top 5 reasons why you can’t lose the weight:

  1. Skipping meals: you wake up and are met with the insane and constant demands of your children. Not only do you have to get yourself ready for the day, but all of the children too. If I include myself, I’ve 4 sets of teeth to clean, 4 hairs to brush, 4 bodies to dress, and 4 mouths to feed. It’s easy to miss breakfast! Before you know it’s 10am and you are starving, so you grab a muffin in Starbucks (a skinny one, must be Unknownhealthy right?), or a croissant, and a latte.  At lunchtime, you’re not that hungry, so a biscuit or two or a a packet of crisps is fine, and so the inconsistent grazing continues through the day. By not eating regular meals, you snack on less than nutritious, high calorie food. This is ‘mindless’ eating. Not only are you depriving yourself of nutritious food, you are stacking up the calories. Take 2 minutes in the morning to tell yourself that today, you are going to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  2. ‘Tasting’ while cooking: I am certainly guilty of this. I love cooking and baking, and Unknown-1can easily spend a few hours each day in the kitchen. I like to taste the food, so I’ll have a munch here and there, a taste of this and that to gauge the flavour, and the final product of course.
  3. Finishing the kid’s food: Kids eat until they’ve had enough, so more often than not there will be left over food on their plate. Half a sausage down your hatch with out even thinking about it – that can be nearly 100kcal. Some yoghurt left in the pot (hey, it’s healthy and we can’t let that go to waste can we, and it there’s less mess to clean up!). Half a banana on the walk home from school because daughter didn’t want it, in it goes! All these add up to 100s of calories per day. You are not a human dust bin!
  4. Over eating/drinking in the evening: I understand the immense relief that comes with the children finally being in bed. The peace is something to behold. It’s ‘me’ time, time for a lovely meal and a glass of wine to wind down. You need it, and you deserve it. It is what has been keeping you sane all day. Just be aware that this is a form of
    Better get cracking on this lot!

    Better get cracking on this lot (7200kcal)!

    emotional eating and drinking, and often is a major contributor to weight gain. Look at your portion size of pasta or rice – does it fill the plate? 1/4 plate of pasta, or a fist size amount provides about 250kcal. Fill your plate with salad and veggies. I’m not going to lecture about the health dangers of regular alcohol intake, but one bottle of wine has about 600kcal, the equivalent to a meal.

  5. Reduced metabolism – as we age, our metabolism slows, probably due to loss of muscle. As well as reduced metabolic rate, although you may be active all day, the calories you are using up through exercise is not enough. You need to boost your metabolism by getting some strenuous exercise that gets you sweating! Just pootling up and down the swimming pool or sitting on the exercise bike for twenty minutes isn’t enough. HIIT training is fabulous for those who don’t have much time. Building some muscle by doing weight bearing exercise will also help.

Refuelling for Tournaments

Keeping the body fuel at it’s peak for training and matches can be challenging enough, so how do you ensure that you are reaching full throttle during events that have multiple games or rounds?

It is typical for the athletes, players, and believe it or not, coaches to turn up to events like football, rugby or swimming tournaments with no fuelling strategy in place. If peak performance is the objective, this is utterly absurd and an inexcusable oversight.

Here’s why:

  • muscle fuel stores will decrease during each game or event. Water or rehydration drinks are not enough to replace this energy so muscle fuel stores will become depleted, affecting muscle power output, speed, balance, injury risk etc.
  • carbohydrate is required for the brain cells to function optimally, essential for making quick and accurate decisions on the field

Be prepared, stock up on food supplies before the journey to the event. Don’t ‘wing it’ by hoping that there might be food available when you get there.

3-4 hours before:

Normal meal: consisting of plenty of carbohydrates (bread, potatoes, rice pasta etc.) protein (meat, fish, eggs, chicken etc.) and ideally fruit/veg. Fluid.

1-2 hours before: easily digestible food, high carbohydrate, low fat, continue to drink plenty.

  • energy bars Unknown-2Unknown-3
  • muesli bars
  • banana or any fruit
  • fruit smoothie
  • low fibre breakfast cereal with milk e.g Rice Krispies or Cornflakesimages-1
  • Scones
  • Sandwiches made with white bread
  • low fat fruit yogurt
  • Scones

    Scones

    imagesbetween heats:

  • 200ml diluted fruit juice/smoothieUnknown-4
  • Energy gels
  • Carbohydrate Drinks e.g. Lucozade Sport
  • Handful of jelly sweets e.g. jelly beans/babies (Haribo are quite chewy so hard to eat enough!)
  • Scone/fruit bread
  • Ripe banana

Know what works for you, and don’t try something new on the day. For example, some people find that energy gels give them stomach cramps and feel better with a ripe banana.

If you suffer from diarrhoea before or during an event, there are a number of foods that you should avoid for 24 hours before. ‘Trigger foods’ typically include lactose (found in milk/yogurt), gluten (found in food containing wheat flour), and ‘prebiotics’ (look for inulin or oligosaccharides on food labels – often in sports energy bars and drinks). Confused? Then just ask a sports dietitian who can help you.

Supplements in Sport – which ones work?

Unknown-1The use of supplements by athletes is almost universal, and used correctly and appropriately, can help to achieve optimum performance.

However, clever marketing by supplement companies often exaggerates or invents nutrition claims. The use of pseudo science is common, using seemingly impressive words and phrases.

Unfortunately, many professional and recreational athletes rely on information from unreliable websites, or are advised by unqualified and inexperienced nutritionists (there are some fabulous nutritionists out there, however, anyone can call themselves a nutritionist as it is an unregulated title). Without the correct training, it is easy to misinterpret and misquote published scientific evidence and come to the wrong conclusions.

It is common for athletes to be motivated by celebrity endorsements, a big selling point for a product, “If x uses it it then it must work!”. Additionally, there is the fear that colleagues or competitors are taking a supplement, and if they do not, then they will be losing out on having ‘the edge’.

All this results in money being wasted on products that simply do not work, and at worst can cause physical harm. Importantly, supplements are a distraction from the factors that can really enhance health, recovery and performance.

It may not seem exciting or cutting edge, but the sound foundations of good nutrition need to be

Balanced meals with protein, vegetables and whole grains

Real food with protein, vegetables, healthy fats and whole grains

firmly in place (focusing on real food and getting quality nutrients from carbs, protein and healthy fats). These, coupled with optimum timings of nutrient intake is the basis for ultimately achieving the best performance in training and competition.

There are a select few supplements, however, that have a good amount of evidence behind their effectiveness:

  • Recovery shakes – Carbohydrate & Protein powders for use after exercise. Carbs allow glycogen replenishment of the muscles and help to shuttle protein in to the muscle for repair and growth. Although carbs and protein can be sourced from food or milk, sometimes it is more convenient to take as a supplement (20-30g protein, approx 60-90g carbs). For higher protein needs of resistance training, whey protein is quickly absorbed and can be a more convenient and often cheaper way to achieve requirements than from solely high protein food (up to a total of 1.7g/kg/day of protein from food and supplements)
  • Caffeine – Sound evidence exists that caffeine enhances endurance and provides a small but worthwhile enhancement of performance over a range of exercise protocols. Caffeine also improves mental sharpness. Avoid if it gives you the jitters, and for many people it acts as a gut stimulant causing diarrhoea (70-200mg taken before and during exercise. A cup of instant coffee has approx 70mg, one ProPlus tablet 50mg)
  • Creatine – for about 80% of people, creatine can increase muscle mass, strength and high intensity exercise performance. Effective for sports involving short periods of maximal intensity and repeated bouts with intermittent rest periods. The quickest way to “creatine load” is to take large doses (20-30 g per day) for around 5-7 days. Typically, these doses are split over the day e.g. 5g, four to five times each day. Eating a large amount of carbohydrate (about 70-100 g) with each dose increases creatine uptake via the stimulatory effects of insulin.
  • Nitrates –  Dietary nitrate has become increasingly popular as an ergogeimages-3nic aid, with a $T2eC16dHJGoFFvPOJJ3UBR0ZfTsjj!~~60_35number of recent studies finding benefits to sports performance. Nitrates increase blood flow by causing blood vessels to dilate. High nitrate foods include beetroot, beetroot juice, celery, spinach, lettuce, rocket, leeks and parsley (preferably non-organic).
  • Vitamin D – there is a direct relationship between vitamin D levels in the body and muscle power, force and velocity. Vitamin D deficiency increases risk of muscle injury. In a recent study (2014) one third of American college athletes were deficient in vitamin D. There aren’t many good food sources of vitamin D, therefore for those who are deficient, supplementing with 1000IU is advisable. Severely deficiencies may require higher doses.

    A selection of supplements.......

    A selection of supplements…….

  • Omega 3s – anti-inflammatory, also protects against heart attacks and strokes, may also benefit memory and general mental performance. If no oily fish is eaten, then 500-1000mg daily of EPA & DHA is a good amount to take.
  • Probiotics – maintains gut function and health, preventing the immunosuppressive effects of intense exercise, and reducing susceptibility to illness. Also appropriate to take if travelling abroad for competition to avoid traveller’s diarrhoea. The specific strain of probiotic supplement needs to be carefully selected.
  • Multivitamins – when you can’t guarantee that your diet is always a healthy and balanced one.

A dietitian can carry out an assessment and advise on the most appropriate supplements to take (if any), dose and timings*. Advice is tailored to take in to account factors such as specific sport, training goals and food intake.

*Dietitians do not sell nutritional supplements and do not have a commercial interest in promoting them.