It occurred to me at the last weekend of racing in Townsville that many of the competitors could have boosted their performance by knowing how to fuel correctly so I have put some general guidelines below for perusal and a little bit about inflammation - Over the years I have used many products some to good effect and some really bad for me that are too harsh or simply just don't do what they say on the box.
Before we have a look at the general guidelines, a little bit about the "Good Ol Fat burning myth" As an endurance athlete you simply need to eat good wholesome food you don't need to go on any special crazy new age diet as the longer you go your body will naturally adapt and burn fat - and that is a undisputed fact.
Event – 1-2 hours in duration - Sprint
Event 2-4 hours in Duration – Standard / Olympic
Glycogen is depleted – nutrition needs to be topped up well before this happens
Fuelling transitions from glycogen to glucose and fat naturally
Electrolytes take a larger role and must be used in the form of supplementation if salt is not added
Find specific fuels that work for you and stick to it
Event 4 hours plus 70.3
Intensity trending lower and more sustained
Fat becomes your primary source of fuel – naturally
Carbohydrate consumption must continue if already started
Electrolytes must be replaced by 500 – 2000 mg per hour as a general rule – practice see what’s needed
Event 10 hours plus IM / Ultra races
Fat produces most of the energy
Carbohydrate burning continues at a lower rate
Protein is necessary to offset muscle depletion / repair
Electrolyte and hydration guidelines remain the same as 4 hours plus
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Inflammation and Performance
An amazing aspect of the immune system, is that it is designed to protect the body from microbes, chemicals allergens and physical damage. Inflammation occurs at the peak of the response, when conditions like fever trigger the body to increase blood flow and send specialized cells to help repair the damage.
Simply put it’s the body’s way of dealing with stress, which can come from:
Inflammation can be a good and a bad thing – firstly it’s an easy indicator that something is wrong – heed the signs – it can save your life or kill you, depending on the severity of the situation. So with endurance athletes there is a balance that the coach and athlete needed to manage as a team. Feedback to a coach is there for a critical aspect of management of these areas.