top of page

Key essential nutrition guide to help you manage energy levels


There is so much information about what you should and should not eat and many diets that sometimes we can get lost in just understanding the basics, understanding that everyone is different and what works for one person, may not work for others. From my experience as you get older you need to focus on protein and particularly if you are an active person. For every individual health and quality is the key to longevity.

One of my passions is helping people establish better eating habits that help not just achieve a goal but to make them feel good holistically. Recently, I coached a fellow runner on the run up to her marathon, however her feedback was that overall, the recommendations I made, has helped her feel more energised daily


What are the basics and where do you start?


Everyone should have a good understanding of what type of nutrition should be included daily and try establishing what works and does not work for your body. A simple way of achieving this is to note what you are eating each day, at a high level. The activities you have done that day and whether you feel tired, lethargic or if you feel energised and happy.

Everyone’s diet should be made up of the following in some form:


Carbohydrates


This will provide you the main bulk of energy and should make up 50%-60% of your diet, smaller percentage if not a very active individual. An active individual is classed as someone that does 4 or more intense sessions of exercise per week. If you are female, some form of carbohydrates is essential to help with menstrual cycles and menopause. Before you go any further, please let’s remove the notion that you need to eat bowls of pasta each night and particularly before any training. Everything must be in balance.


There are two forms of Carbohydrates, our focus is on the “complex” carbohydrate bracket and can include the following as examples. Brown Rice, Whole Wheat Bread, Porridge Oats, Sweet potato, Quinoa, lentils and don’t forget carrots and butternut squash also have an amount of Carbs in them. It is not withstanding that pasta does hold a place in fuelling, yet variation is key for sustainability and enjoyment.



Protein


Is essential in any diet as plays an important role in muscle repair, recovery, growth and in many cases, you will find it keeps you fuller for longer. I could talk to you for hours about protein and protein shakes and benefits etc.


Some important things to remember! Protein needs to make up 20% - 25% of your diet, but do not think that just by having one chicken breast with your dinner you have ticked the box for protein intake. Foods are made of several macronutrients and therefore it is important to ensure protein in some form is part of all your meals to gain the right amount. Examples of protein foods include Lean meats (Beef, chicken) lean fish (Tuna), Beans (Chickpeas and Red Kidney Beans), nuts, eggs, high protein yogurt, and tofu and many other sources.


Fats, Vitamins and Minerals


Yes, fats there are some fats out there that are good for you and should make up 15%-25% of your diet. Fats helps with the absorption of vitamins. Examples to include in your diet: Avocado, olive oil, seeds, nuts, and oily fish.


Vitamins and Minerals provide a wide variety of functions in our bodies, from helping release energy from foods that we eat, formation of bones and teeth to protecting our cells from damage.


This area I will be investigating in further details working alongside my son, where he is currently being testing for nutritional imbalances which is presenting in symptoms classed as ADHD. An imbalance or malabsorption can affect everyday functions, equally by ensuring you have sufficient vitamins and minerals in your diet will help optimise your health. In this category the focus is on eating vitamin rich fruit and vegetables, while being careful of hidden sugars in some fruits. Good examples include Banana, Apples, berry fruit, broccoli, kale etc.


Hydration


Hydration is another meaty subject for discussion. First up is a small explanation of hydration in general and how it impacts your body. Then we will consider what happens whilst exercising and things you need to consider.

Why do we need to drink water each day? To regulate body temperature, keep your joints moving, deliver nutrients to cells and keep organs functioning. Additionally, hydration keeps up your energy levels. Top tip, if you find yourself yawning it may be a sign that your brain needs fluid. Being well hydrated improves sleep quality, cognition, and mood, all in all it is a winner.

What happens when you exercise?

We lose fluid by sweating, urinating, and breathing so as soon as we start exercising, we will start to dehydrate through sweating as the body is trying to keep its core to its optimal temperature. Most dehydration is normal for those exercising and is only temporary. As soon as we stop working out, it is important that we start replacing fluids within first 30 mins.

One final consideration regarding hydration and please do read my Gels versus No Gels blog. If you are using gels as a form of energy replenishment whilst undertaking a “race”, then taking gels with water aids how quickly it absorbs into your system and the benefits received.


What is the next step? Plan your meals!


Your diet needs to be balanced; however, it does need to fit into your lifestyle so that you can sustain it. It is an art to juggle work, family, social and may be training activities and still manage to eat. On your busy days you may want to eat little and often to keep blood sugar levels where they need to be to limit tiredness and cravings. The bonus of planning meals is that your shopping list will be wholesome, it may reduce waste and save pennies.

Whilst planning your meals, please remember not to miss out on main meals, they are essential in repairing your muscles, balancing hormones, and replenishing stores. Depending on your schedule depends on the type of meals you have in terms of quickness, body requirements and times you eat. These factors all need to be considered to ensure energy levels maintained throughout days and weeks. This is where the food diary of what works well, tiredness levels etc all help towards ensuring that your food is right for you!

It can be daunting when planning meals and this is where I can help so, please, reach out to me to find out more.


Quick introduction to pre- and post-race meals if you are a runner, triathlete or even doing your first big sporting event!


This discussion will and always will vary from person to person and you do need to work out what is right for you. It is even more critical to make notes in your food diary when experimenting in your training. It is recommended that you do eat a few more slow releasing carbs on the run up to race day. However, as an example for me, I cannot race if I have had a massive bowl of pasta the night before, so I have that on a Friday and on the Saturday, I have high protein and what I class as “lighter complex carbs” for example sweet potato.

On the actual event day, you will have to work out your optimum fuel time before you start running. For some it can be as little up to an hour before, for others it may be longer. This is all before you work out what to eat and the quantities! Again, feel free reach out to me to explore further.

Post-race is equally important from the time you step over the finish line, all the way through to the evening. From my experience and recommendation, within 30 mins of crossing the finish line I will drink a vegan brand protein shake with high content of carb. This will start repairing any muscle damage. I then find I need a bit of time before I can undertake any “real” food recovery meal. This could be small in first instance, soup and yogurt or if you are my husband then a tuna and cheese sandwich. Then in the evening, a balanced nutritious meal.


Final thoughts you are not alone


There is so much to consider, and this may have sent your mind into a spin, but the good news is that everything is achievable! Whatever you now decide to do, ensure that it is wholesome, varied and fun, set the goals, achieve the goals, fuel the goals. There is always support here if you need some 😊

Comments


bottom of page