Food is the body's fuel, it provides the energy needed to function; it provides nutrients for our body's cells, to grow and develop. Core to any top-level athlete's training program is nutrition, eating an intelligent and balanced diet will optimise performance. We were keen to share a few tips.
Breakfast has always been referred to as the most important meal of the day, it is thought that eating shortly after waking up helps stabilises the blood sugar levels that regulate appetite and energy.
Everyone has different tastes and a different approach to food, especially in the morning. One thing is for certain though; fruit is the cornerstone of any healthy diet. So if you have the opportunity of having fruit in the morning, do so. Fruits are rich in anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals and various nutrients that rejuvenate cells, tissues and organs in the body. Apples, oranges, melons, berries and many others should be enjoyed over breakfast, and throughout the day. Bananas are often top of athletes' list with high levels of potassium but mainly due to the slow-release of energy they provide.
Eggs have also always been highly recommended by experts, over two thirds of every egg is pure protein with research determining that among protein foods, eggs contain the richest mix of amino acids which are vital for muscle growth and repair. If you like savoury in the morning, then add some feta cheese and spinach with pine nuts to the mix. If you want eggs on toast, ensure you go for the whole grain bread with its high levels of fibre.
If you cannot go without cereals, choose the iron-rich with low-sugar counts brand. But nothing beats porridge or oatmeal, as it is also called, which is hugely beneficial, containing protein, zinc, iron, magnesium, vitamins B and E, it helps boost your immune system and fights infection. Top this with milk or pro-biotic yoghurt, providing more protein and calcium for bone growth.
You can mix and match at will with all these ingredients before you go to work or start training.
After your first work out or if you just want to snack, top-up your energy levels with a piece of fruit or a cereal bar. If you are hard at it, have some kind of protein, which significantly reduces muscle damage, allowing you to train again after just a short rest period.
Lunch is your opportunity to carb load with many athletes preferring to have it as their biggest meal of the day. Stock up on your carbohydrates for your next session of the day. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for your body; this food group contains pasta, rice, potatoes, bread, noodles and cereals.
So variations of recipes based around carbohydrates over lunch are highly recommended. For instance, pasta with ham, tomatoes and vegetables or a jacket potato with some chicken or a chunky protein-stuffed wrap (that contains any lean meat, turkey, chicken, pork, beef or fish).
There are many clever ways to jazz up your meals, with fruit milkshakes, colour variation and carefully selected sauces. Always have vegetables or fruit with your meal. Do not be afraid to pile on the fruit.
Once you have had your lunch, be sure to digest it before you resume your day or get ready for another work-out. Snack later on with fruit of course, that cannot be stressed enough, and nuts, as well as they are packed full of protein.
Dinner is often recommended to be the lightest meal of the day, something very simple like chicken or fish with fresh or steamed vegetables or salad. You can also go for any other type of lean protein, with those all important vegetables and a little complex carbohydrate like sweet potato, brown rice or brown pasta. Soup is also a sure way to make you feel fuller. You should always aim to choose a fish option a couple of times a week, for instance try tuna steak with beetroot salad to get that essential fish oil.
This is an old cliché but spinach is a very nutrient-dense food, low in calorie but high in vitamins and minerals, a great source of vitamin and protein and very versatile, you can eat it raw in a salad or cook it (lightly) and add it to any dish. So try it.
There are also several ingenious tips to get the best out of your day. Of course always stay hydrated, water is essential, drink between six and ten glasses a day depending on your activity level but you should also add a glass or two of milk with is proven to facilitate post-exercise recovery as effectively as or even better than a dedicated carbohydrate-electrolyte drink.
If you want to bulk up, protein shakes will be recommended by some but if you eat carefully you will get a lot more benefits from natural ingredients as often protein drinks contain high levels of sugar. Supplements can also be added to your diet and if you do we recommend you go for fish oil supplements. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil raise the production of proteins and helps post-exercise recovery.
Told by the experts, Great Britain and Road to London Head Coach Colin Jones was keen to stress the benefits of milk and Olympic gold medallist and double AIBA World Champion Vasyl Lomachenko's secret ingredient is lard. So why don't you have some bacon with a glass of milk tomorrow morning.
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