Here is the first blog the Department of Clinical Nutrition have provided in a series designed to help all our participants prepare for this year's mini marathon. We hope you enjoy the series, which also includes blogs from Physiotherapist Julie Jordan.
Watch out for the second instalment next month!
By Suzanne Seery and Orla Haughey, Department of Clinincal Nutrition, St. James's Hospital.
Healthy Eating for sport and fitness - getting the balance right!
The countdown has begun for the Flora Women’s Mini Marathon. It is a great opportunity to improve your fitness and overall health while supporting St James’s Hospital.
When you are starting out on a training and exercise regime it is important to think about the food you eat and the role it plays in helping you achieve your fitness goals! Eating a wide variety of nutritious foods coupled with active living is the key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. A well balanced diet supplies the body with the nutrients it needs and the energy for exercise. The more active you are, the higher your energy needs will be.
New Healthy Eating guidelines were released in Ireland in 2011.These guidelines outline the daily recommended servings of food from the different food groups. This newsletter discusses the different food groups and we also include some tips on eating pre, during and post training, to get you started!
The following are the different food groups that contribute to a healthy balanced diet:
Bread, Potatoes and Cereals – These are the carbohydrate rich foods which are the main source of energy in our diets. They help to maintain adequate energy levels and fuel your training. The more active you are the more servings you need. Wholegrain and wholemeal sources are the best choice for healthy calories. The general adult population needs between 3-7 servings per day depending on activity levels.
Fruit and vegetables – contain vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants which are vital for health and also provide an energy source before, during and after training. Including at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables has been scientifically proven to help prevent many diseases such as heart disease, stroke and certain type of cancers.
Milk, cheese and yogurt - These foods are an excellent source of calcium which is needed to build strong, healthy bones and teeth. It is recommended that 3 servings a day be included in a healthy diet. Choosing the low-fat versions and choosing milk and yogurts more than cheese will ensure you limit your saturated fat intake to keep your heart healthy. A portion is equivalent to 200mls of semi-skimmed milk, a pot of low-fat yogurt or a 1oz portion of low fat cheese.
Meat, fish and alternatives - These foods are rich in protein. Protein in our diet is necessary for growth, repair and maintenance of body tissue such as muscle. Two 3oz portions are recommended per day. Alternatives to meat sources of protein include ¾ cup of lentils, beans or peas, 2 eggs or 3oz nuts.
Fat spreads and oils – we need some fat in our diet but it is a case of getting the balance right. We need to eat less saturated fat and trans fats and replace some of these fats with unsaturated fats such as mono and polyunsaturated fats, these include; olive, sunflower, corn and safflower oils and spreads.
High fat high sugar foods – These include deep-fried foods, crisps, confectionary, processed meats, sugar, jams, cakes and pastries. These foods should be limited in our diet in order to maintain a healthy weight.
What and when to eat before training?
Carbohydrates are the main fuel source for exercise. They are stored in the body as glycogen in both the liver and muscle. Stores of glycogen in the body are limited and need to be topped up regularly, especially when exercising. A moderate to high carbohydrate based meal eaten 2 to 4 hours before exercise will help stave off hunger and stabilise your blood sugar levels which will help avoid fatigue, dizziness and stitch during training.
Meal ideas (eat 2-4 hours before exercise):
A small portion of fast acting carbohydrate such as a banana, 40g of dried fruit, or a pot of yogurt can be eaten about an hour before exercise to boost your energy stores if needed.
What to eat after training?
After an exercise session you should begin to refill your glycogen stores within 2 hours. Having a high carbohydrate snack with a little protein helps promote efficient ‘top-up’ of glycogen stores by the muscle and promotes muscle re-building.
Remember, it is important to keep hydrated, aim to have 400-600mls of water 2-3 hours before exercising.
St. James’s Hospital Foundation
St. James’s Hospital
Telephone 01 428 4086