Have you ever busted a chain on your bike? I don’t recommend it. Once, during a xc mountain bike race, I was pumping hard uphill in a good position, when all of the sudden…”ping, whip!”, my chain snapped and came flying off. My knee came down hard on my top tube, and I hobbled my bike to the side of the trail, collected what I could of my broken chain, and did the walk of shame back to the finish line. Needless to say, the podium finish I was hoping for did not happen.
Is nutrition your weak link?
Just like a faulty chain on your bike could cost you a race, or at the very least, screw up your plans for a fun ride, poor nutrition might be your weak link as an endurance athlete. I get it, you’ve got a lot on your plate (pun intended); training, family time, work, school, and a million other responsibilities, now throw nutrition on top of that and it probably feels pretty overwhelming.
But if you’re serious about your sport, there is no doubt that nutrition can improve your performance. Here are three reasons why time in the kitchen is worth it:
Food is fuel.
Your workout sessions, adventures, and events are going to benefit greatly from good fuel. Eating the right things at the right times (primarily sources of carbohydrate), can help you have higher-quality workouts because you’ll have the energy that you need. Going into events and races with a specific nutrition plan, rather than just shooting from the hip, can make a huge difference in your overall performance. Spending time to plan for, shop for, and prepare fuel for your sport is definitely worthwhile.
Nutrition is an important aspect of recovery for athletes. Including protein, carbohydrate, fat, and antioxidant-rich foods in your recovery meals can help to shorten the time that you feel sore after a session. Providing your body with the right nutrients can aid in muscle protein synthesis, lowering inflammation, and reducing your chance of injury or sickness. Making sure you have food that is ready to grab or easy to prepare following a workout is crucial.
Many times, the focus in sports nutrition is on immediate performance benefits. There is nothing wrong with this, but there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to improve both your performance and long-term health at the same time. A nutrient-dense diet, filled with plenty of whole grains, fruits and veggies, and rich protein sources can help reduce your risk of chronic illness, help maintain a healthy body-weight, and improve overall mood and energy levels. The preparation involved in that kind of eating is a commitment, but a commitment you won’t regret.
Where to start + a recipe
Ok, so now that you’re convinced that nutrition could be the thing that you’ve been missing as an endurance athlete, what should you do next? Although there are many things you can do to improve your nutrition, I recommend starting with breakfast. Breakfast can be a great opportunity to get in some nutrient-dense fuel, or recovery food, depending on when you’re eating it. My go-to is an “Oatmeal of Champions”:
For the Oatmeal of Champions recipe, <<CLICK HERE>>
About the Author: VIC JOHNSON
Hi, I'm Vic! I'm a nutrition coach for outdoor athletes, and love getting out on my own adventures too. I run trails and ultras, ride bicycles, and live for human powered epics in wild places. I nerd out on functional nutrition and love sharing what I've learned with others!