John Heiss of Herbalife explains how to ‘Eat to Compete – 5 Reasons Why Endurance Athletes Need Fuel 24/7.’
- Athletes need to fuel up in the morning, since their stored fuel reserves will have dropped during an overnight fast. Training and racing take a toll on the body, and starting the day with a healthy meal balanced with carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals provides a solid nutritional foundation for performance.
- Hydration is an essential need all people share. Because hydration directly impacts athletic performance, it is even more important for athletes to keep fluid levels topped off – especially during a demanding event. Hydration is essential, as are electrolytes – important body salts which support proper muscle function and help regulate body temperature
- Carbohydrates are the primary fuel during exercise and they’re essential to keep the body running. In an endurance race, calories are king and getting enough is essential for performance. Making sure to get plenty of carbohydrates both before and during the race is key, and proper nutrition also helps shorten recovery time, which is very important in a multi-day event. The use of carbohydrate electrolyte beverages in a race is often essential for endurance athletes, to maintain prolonged performance.
- After a race, the body needs the right ratios of carbohydrates and protein to begin recovering. Recovery is two-fold, and requires carbohydrate for replacing glycogen stores as well as protein for rebuilding damaged muscle.
- Additional nutrient supplementation may also be useful where the nutritional needs of athletes are so extreme that they can’t be met with food alone. But that being said, it is important to keep in mind that supplementation is just that – a supplement to a regular healthy diet. Every athlete should get the majority of their calories and nutrients from whole foods, primarily healthy sources of healthy carbohydrates – whole grains, fruits and vegetables – and protein from lean meats, poultry, fish, low fat dairy products and plant sources such as soy.