Sports nutrition is a vast subject and I am convinced that good nutrition makes progress in running. I am convinced by the facts and all the scientific studies that have been published. I have been working on the sports nutrition aspect and what are the best practices for several months or even several years. And no, I'm still not a nutritionist, so my comments are only my own. You are free to follow them or not. Today, I would like to give you the keys to my diet as a runner and draw a parallel with my training. Before I even get to the heart of the matter, I can assure you that I could not have made steady progress year after year without this concern for good nutrition.
Maximize the effects of training!
If training is stressing your body and weakening it... So the more intense and/or long a training is, the more negatively our body is affected by the effort we have just imposed on it. Don't worry about it, that's the purpose of the training, I'll tell you about it here. Stress forces the body to use its repair and strengthening mechanisms to come back stronger the next time. While recovery is a natural mechanism of the human body, it depends greatly on what we provide through food. So, doing a big workout is good, but for it to be effective, you have to put as much energy into recovery. And food is, along with hydration, the sector where you can play the most.
When sports nutrition goes hand in hand with health nutrition
Thinking about sports nutrition also means thinking about health nutrition, there is really no disadvantage in trying to eat better. And I can tell you that in terms of daily fitness feeling, it's day and night. Just look at the weeks of recovery where I run little and let myself go a little more. I move much less and yet I don't have as much energy. I have less and less desire to make deviations because even in everyday life I feel the effects of a balanced diet. Yes, balanced, because I don't reinvent the wheel....
I use many concepts that we hear but often do not apply. I also take a lot from the practices of vegetarians and vegans. I do not declare myself either because outside I do not forbid myself anything. But at home, my diet is almost exclusively vegetarian today! Let's look at some aspects of my sports nutrition that I find interesting.
The 5 tips of a good daily sports nutrition
1. Fruits and vegetables at will
The 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day was a long way off for most of my life. Today, I really consume it at will. They say that ideally, more vegetables are needed than fruit. That's true. But as an athlete, if you have a significant volume of training, there is no real limit on the amount of fruit. They are natural sugars, coupled with a large amount of fibre that slows their absorption, vitamins of all kinds... In short, real good sugars. And many, like my favorite, the banana, are full of essential elements for the sportsman! And don't forget the dried fruit! Stuffed with sugars yes because without water but keeping fibres and minerals, they are perfect for a fast energy boost!
Obviously, vegetables are not forgotten, but I reassure you, often present at each meal, from breakfast to dinner! Breakfast? Just start the day with a green smoothie with spinach for example and you're done! It's good in every sense of the word. Raw or cooked to vary tastes and textures, vegetables are much tastier than you might think... The ideal way to get the most out of them: cook them very lightly (steam / microwave) or eat them raw. It keeps everything they can bring that's good intact! PS: Avoid eating only raw food in the evening to facilitate digestion!
2. Eat less but more often
Filling your stomach until this impression of total filling has become a norm. In the end, stopping eating before being full, at 80% as Japanese custom says is an excellent idea. Certainly it makes you want to eat again earlier (especially when you do a lot of sport!) but it also lets your stomach work quietly, almost constantly. If you also use the other two points just above, the snacks between meals are not problematic.
So I eat more 6 times a day than 3 because sport greatly increases my metabolism. Between traditional meals, I simply try to eat good things: fresh fruit, a handful of oilseeds, a small bowl of granola (cut with oatmeal, chia, cocoa bean chips + soya or unsweetened almond vegetable drink), wholemeal bread toast with natural peanut butter (my sweet spot since I have been in Canada!).... The possibilities are endless, you can make according to your taste!
3. Limit refined sugars
Refined sugar is industrial sugar. Whether it is white, cane, glucose syrup, fructose or I don't know what other name it is. The one found in fresh fruit is not one of them. It is still sugar, but coupled with a lot of fibre and other nutrients that are beneficial to the body. But the refined sugar that can be found a stink everywhere has practically no interest except to provide energy quickly during an effort or just after recovery. And if you look a little bit you will see that there is sugar everywhere today and that we are totally addicted... Unlike running, this addiction unfortunately does not have much benefit...
4. Do not limit fat
Who would have thought? After hunting for fat, today we are told to eat as much as we want? There is still an important nuance to be grasped in this formula! When I tell you that I don't limit fat, I'm talking about fat used in a healthy diet, as I've been talking about since the beginning! We have to take it one step at a time. But most of the time, the fats in industrial products.... It's not really what we consider good fats...
On the other hand, fats present in oilseeds, avocados, fatty fish, olive oil... No longer have to demonstrate their virtues! And I only took the products that have been in the spotlight lately! It is important to know that 1g of fat contains 9 kcal against 4kcal for 1g of sugar... And that the rule to lose / not gain weight is always to ingest less / as many calories as those we spend! Precision made... Forget the old adage that fat is bad!
5. Meat occasionally
I told you at home, except for a big box of breaded chicken that stays in the bottom of the freezer and that we eat little by little... There is almost no meat here anymore, I keep it for occasions with friends. There are many reasons why I eat less meat... Product quality, environment, animal treatment... I wouldn't talk about it today but... I prefer a little good meat occasionally than poor quality on a daily basis. And to answer the question that haunts many people....
Where are my daily proteins? A little fish, a lot of vegetable protein sources (legumes, whole grain rice, quinoa, some oilseeds such as almonds, the famous North American peanut butter and... vegetables... Broccoli, spinach... are good sources of protein!) Proteins are everywhere! Proof, many professional vegan athletes do very well, showing that animal proteins are not essential. All you need is a varied diet, combining the right foods every day, and you're done, you get your daily dose of protein without any problems!
A good sports nutrition is about having fun!
Obviously, just because I gave you my 5 tips for good sports nutrition doesn't mean that I respect them 100% of the time! As in running training, I keep the notion of fun as a priority. I clearly allow myself to make deviations... if they are deviations and not a habit! For example, it's summer and my favourite pastime is ice cream, so don't think I won't enjoy it ! obviously, not every day and in a reasonable format (we're in North America, you can't imagine the size of the ice cream ! :D).
On the other hand, I also try, little by little, on a daily basis, to find dishes that I like to eat and that are at the same time good for my health. And believe me when you take a close look, the myth of eating well = no pleasure, no taste, no hunger all the time... is a myth! The more I discover things, the more I like it and the less I'm tempted by junk food! Once you enter the virtuous circle....
A very gradual transition!
It's amazing how many parallels there are between running and life in general. Any transition in running must be made gradually. Whether it's changing the way you train, your stride or your type of shoe... You have to adapt little by little to the change to integrate it well. Well, it's the same for my diet.
Personally, I have been interested in sports nutrition and healthy eating in general for about 4 years. Since then I have been constantly improving my diet. And I am convinced that changing everything overnight is not the best way to succeed in the long term. Integrating new foods, learning to appreciate them, testing recipes... All this takes time and finding what suits us too... But it's a very interesting and beneficial personal path!