As athletes it is important to make sure we are fuelling our bodies to the optimum level. This is ever more important as we progress through the current COVID-19 pandemic.
As we adjust to the lockdown (reduced training) and newer ways of working (from home) we need to make sure we don’t consume more calories than we need and don’t comfort eat and find ourselves putting on unnecessary kilo’s! To this end it is useful to plan our nutrition and make sure we don’t comfort or binge eat.
As a rough guide, and depending upon where we are in our training cycle, we should be looking at getting 25% of our calories from protein, 45%-55% from carbohydrates and 20%-30% from fats. How many calories we need in total will depend on how hard we are training and our current weight. As an example a 72kg male athlete in heavy training may require 4,250 calories per day and a 64kg female in a similar training phase 3,725 calories.
We should aim to eat fresh, un-processed foods and include a wide variety of fruit and vegetables in our diets. We should choose wholegrain and higher fibre foods with no added salt or sugar, lower fat versions of dairy produce and any oils or spreads we use should be unsaturated. We should include a couple of portions of sustainably sourced oily fish a week and try to avoid red and processed meats. Eating more beans and pulses will also help us achieve a healthy and balanced diet which contains all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals we need.
Don’t forget hydration, we should aim to drink little and often – processing of fluids is much more efficient if the gut is kept topped up rather than being allowed to empty and then re-filled. In general and depending upon the individual, to sustain our basic bodily functions males require about 3.8ltr of fluid and females 2.9ltr per day, this is before we undertake any form of exercise. We all have different sweat rates so the replenishment of fluid when exercising will vary between individuals but as a general rule when exercising look to consume about 1ml/kg body weight/hr of fluid.