Category: diet

What 200 Calories Look Like in Different Foods

Here’s a photo series showing how much of a given food you get for 200 calories. As you think about your training and race day nutrition, check out the benefits of eating well vs junk food.

Being able to visualize how much of a given food pays back in calories might help you make decisions come snack or meal time.

Vegetables are good value for calories. And I know I’d rather eat three eggs than eight Hershey’s kisses.

Nutrition is a key part of training and racing triathlon. Use these photos to guide your diet and decision making.

What does 200 Calories Look Like?

How many calories are there in the foods you eat?

How many calories are there in the foods you eat?

31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence #29: Invest in Recovery

“31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence” is a series of those tips that will kick your performance to the next level, without any inordinate expenditure of time or money. How are you going to reach your goals?

Today’s tip to enhance your performance is #29: Invest in Recovery

Recovery for triathletes and ironman is important

I have had a few requests from various parties recently about recovery – what are the whats and the hows and the whys of effective recovery?

There are  – of course, since when was triathlon ever simple?! – many facets to post-exercise recovery, and many are open to debate so please let me know what I’ve forgotten or under/over-stated.

What is not in question is that proper recovery will boost performance by preventing injury and allowing you to perform at higher level for longer.

So, what should you be doing to recover after working out?

  1. Post-exercise warm down: do this purely for safety reasons if nothing else, as it allows your heart rate to return to a normal, resting state, and avoid a drop in blood pressure could drop and dizziness.
  2. Stretching: helps relax the muscles, flush out toxins and ultimately helps with flexibility which in turn helps prevent injury.
  3. Hydrate: hopefully you will be well hydrated from drinking throughout your workout, but be sure to drink plenty of fluids afterwards to aid recovery. We often lose weight while working out – this tends to be lost water. Drinking after training helps replace lost fluids and prevent sore muscles.
  4. Eat, eat, eat! as soon after training as possible, preferably within 30-60 minutes. Recommended foods vary, but some balance of protein and carbohydrates is important. Chocolate milk is on most lists as it contains both protein (to promote muscle repair) and simple carbs (to replenish glycogen). I like a banana as well. Make sure you have a good balanced meal after training to fuel your recovery.
  5. Massage: treat yourself to a pro or spend 10 minutes with your foam roller. One is more pleasurable than the next, but both methods may help flush out lactic acid, reduce swelling and heal faster.
  6. Naps & sleep: Get plenty of sleep to allow your muscles to recover. Increased sleep has been linked to improved performance, as when we are quietly (wait, do you snore?!) dreaming, our body is at work repairing our muscles.
  7. Cold/Hot therapy: in the form of hot/cold showers, ice baths and ice packs help boost circulation and flush out toxins. The other day I left my spinning class in my shorts and t-shirt went out into freezing weather on the way to the car. While all my muscles froze in the wind, this is NOT a recommended approach!
  8. Rest days: give yourself regular days off where you do nothing at all except enjoy some rest. While many feel the urge to keep training, a day off will allow you to perform better over the long term.
  9. Active recovery: is exercising at low-intensities and can include the warm-down immediately after a tough main set, or going for an easy swim shortly after your week’s long run. Studies show that rather than resting, active recovery helps flush out lactic acid and has psychological benefits – who doesn’t enjoy a nice, easy session from time-to-time?

There is a lot you can do to help you recover quickly and more effectively. While adopting the tricks above may take some practice, they are relatively easy and quick. Build them into your training plan and your daily routine.

Tons of equipment is available to help e.g. eye masks for a nap, ice packs, compression socks, foam roller, protein shakes and more.

Don’t just work hard during practice. Your training extends beyond your timetable and into recovery hours. The pay-offs will be clear over the course of a long season.

What have I missed? Vote now and I will try to include in the last couple of posts of the series!

The “31 Easy Tips” Series:
#1: Drink Water First Thing in the Morning
#2: 
Write Down Your Goals (Now!)
#3:
 Ask an Expert
#4: 
Start Stretching
#5: Track your progress towards your Goals
#6: Take a Cold Shower
#7: 
Incorporate Drills into your Workouts
#8: 
Superfoods for Superperformance
#9: Get Some Rest
#10: Cross train
#11: 
Reward Yourself
#12: Don’t Breathe in the Pool
#13: 
Take a Bath
#14: Do Squat!
#15: Get Yourself a Mentor
#16: 
Do Yoga
#17: Be on Time
#18: Leave Your Bucket of Troubles at the Door
#19: Stay Healthy!
#20: Do LESS Freestyle
#21: Grind it Out on the Foam Roller
#22: Engage Your Core
#23: Don’t Break the Bank!
#24: Be Persistent and Patient (Like Skyscraper Builders)
#25: Kick!
#26: Sprint!
#27: Race-day training
#28: Visualize Victory

31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence: #19 Stay Healthy!

“31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence” is designed to provide suggestions for areas of improvement in your triathlon training and racing which offer great gains that you might not be aware of.

Today’s tip is #19: Stay Healthy!

Portrait-Photo-Sick-person-going-to-Lourdes-to-take-in-the-water

Easier said than done of course, especially in the cold winter weather.

However there are a lot of things that we can and should do to minimize our chances of getting sick, and reduce the training days we miss due to illness:

be proactive to avoid getting sick and race your best triathlon or ironman

By being proactive we can maximize our training effectiveness over the course of a season. Consistency throughout the season is key when it comes to performance and racing our best – be it triathlon, ironman, open water swimming or running (etc, etc).

Previous tips in the 31 Easy Tips series include:

#1: Drink Water First Thing in the Morning
#2: Write Down Your Goals (Now!)
#3: Ask an Expert
#4: Start Stretching
#5: Track your progress towards your Goals
#6: Take a Cold Shower
#7: Incorporate Drills into your Workouts
#8: Superfoods for Superperformance
#9: Get Some Rest
#10: Cross train
#11: Reward Yourself
#12: Don’t Breathe in the Pool
#13: Take a Bath
#14: Do Squat!
#15: Get Yourself a Mentor
#16: Do Yoga
#17: Be on Time
#18:  Leave Your Bucket of Troubles at the Door

31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence: #8 Superfoods for Superperformance

The 31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence series is designed to provide tips that are relatively easy to implement into your daily routines, with the hopes they boost performance by more than the effort required to adopt them. Rather than increasing your mileage by 10% in the hopes of racing faster, do specific, targeted and simple things like stretching and adding specific foods to your diet.

Today’s tip is #8: Superfoods for super performance

Superfoods are those foods that are stacked with vitamins and minerals, and provide more health benefits than other foods, particularly for those training for Ironman and Olympic triathlon distances.

Superfoods for health

The benefits of superfoods are well-documented, and I’m a firm believer that they do help. A healthier diet can only promote better performance and a healthier body. It’s a no-brainer, and easy to implement.

All it takes is a short shopping list and a trip to the supermarket. Then just add a portion to your meal. Here are just a few examples:

  • blueberries with yoghurt or oatmeal
  • Make a tasty smoothie with a handful of superfoods
  • 1 tsp turmeric to your dinner
  • base a meal around beans instead of pasta
  • use spinach instead of lettuce in your salad
  • Replace meat with salmon or sardines instead for 1 meal per week

And while you’re experimenting, try some new recipes to spice things up and help incorporate superfoods into your diet. You could also take them in supplement form. You will feel the benefits in more energy, healthy bones and faster recovery.

Previous tips in the 31 Easy Tips series include:

#1: Drink Water First Thing in the Morning
#2: Write Down Your Goals (Now!)
#3: Ask an Expert
#4: Start Stretching
#5: Track your progress towards your Goals
#6: Take a Cold Shower
#7: Incorporate Drills into your Workouts

31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence: #1 Drink Water First Thing in the Morning

“31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence” is designed to be a set of tips that are easy to implement and provide gains that well outweigh the time and cost of implementing them.

You can work harder or you can work smarter. Sometimes it is the small, simple things we do that result in great gains.

Tip #1 is a very easy introduction to developing habits that will lead to clear gains. Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning.

Make it the first thing you do when you wake up – OK, after you open your eyes and sit up! But then do it. Before going to sleep put a glass beside your bed, so you can grab and drink it when the alarm goes off.

Overnight, while asleep, you often sweat, you lose water breathing, your body is working to repair muscles and digest food. All this activity causes water loss and after 6-9 hours of not taking in any water your body is likely dehydrated to some extent.

Check the color of your pee in the morning to see the extent of the dehydration. An analogy would be to not drink water while at work. Not a drop. After 8 hours of work, you are going to be very dehydrated and dying for a drink.

If you train in the morning, starting the day dehydrated may affect your performance, so be sure to drink water with your pre-practice meal. Apart from the simple need to rehydrate, drinking water first thing can help wake your system up and continue muscle growth – so start hydrating from the get-go!

Raisins Found To Be As Effective As Sports Chews For Fueling Workouts

Now, I hate raisins. Can’t stand the things. They’re chewy, with a gross texture and a vile taste. Hate them! Pickles and raisins are the only foods I can categorically say I do not like.

raisins for nutrition energy training for ironman triathlon workouts racing energy as effective gels chews

I also dislike those energy gels and chews and was delighted to read that raisins are as effective as the sports chews – and all natural too.

New research published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutritionsuggests that eating raisins may provide the same workout boost as sports chews.

As I pointed out in a recent post, bananas are as effective as sports drinks, so pack your cycling jersey with a bowl of raisins and a bunch of bananas!

Keep it natural.

Holy heatwave! Time for a cool salad

I’m not a huge fan of salad normally, but in this heat I can’t stomach anything heavier.

Tonight I’ll be preparing some goodness from my farm share at Stanton Street CSA with the goal of filling my plate with as much healthy goodness as possible. I’m a firm believer in the more flavors, the better.

nutrition diet salad health power foods salad recipe for triathlon

Arugula, kale, summer squash, scapes, spring onions, blueberries, some roasted nuts scattered on top and finish it with a dressing made of olive oilbutternut squash oil, lemon, salt and pepper.

Going bananas.

I am not a huge fan of sports drinks, gels, etc. Their taste and colour do not appeal, and neither does the fact they are not natural.

Maaaaaybe it puts me at a disadvantage on the nutrition front (probably not, it’s just another excuse for when I race!), but I’ll stick to the bananas and coconut water, and save myself a ton of money in the process.

Here’s an interesting, if academic, article on the merits of bananas. It is sponsored by Dole Foods, so not exactly independent! Some choice quotes:

The bananas provided the cyclists with antioxidants not found in sports drinks as well as a greater nutritional boost, including fiber, potassium and Vitamin B6, the study showed. In addition, bananas have a healthier blend of sugars than sports drinks.

“Bananas come prepackaged with fiber, nutrients and antioxidants,” said Nieman, adding the research translates to any exercise.”

I think there are a lot of athletes who don’t like the thought of drinking carbohydrate sports drinks, which are essentially flavored sugar water,” he said. “This type of research shows that you can have healthier carbohydrate sources before and after exercise that will support athletic performance just as well as a sports drink,” Nieman said.

I will now be telling my athletes to stock up on bananas for the bike leg:

energy drinks gels nutrition banana diet hydrating for triathletes triathlon ironman race nutrition

“Banana loading”

Bananas Are as Beneficial as Sports Drinks, Study Suggests
http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0037479

ScienceDaily (May 29, 2012) — Bananas have long been a favorite source of energy for endurance and recreational athletes. Bananas are a rich source of potassium and other nutrients, and are easy for cyclists, runners or hikers to carry.

Research conducted at Appalachian State University’s Human Performance Lab in the Kannapolis-based North Carolina Research Campus (NCRC) has revealed additional benefits.

“We wanted to see which was more beneficial when consumed during intense cycling — bananas or a carbohydrate sports drink,” said Dr. David C. Nieman, director of the human performance lab and a member of the College of Health Sciences faculty at Appalachian.

“We found that not only was performance the same whether bananas or sports drinks were consumed, there were several advantages to consuming bananas,” he said.

The bananas provided the cyclists with antioxidants not found in sports drinks as well as a greater nutritional boost, including fiber, potassium and Vitamin B6, the study showed. In addition, bananas have a healthier blend of sugars than sports drinks.

The study, funded by Dole Foods, has been published in the peer-reviewed online journal PLoS ONE published by the nonprofit Public Library of Science.

For the study, trained cyclists consumed either a cup of carbohydrate drink or half a banana every 15 minutes during a 75-kilometer simulated road race lasting 2.5 to 3 hours. Blood samples taken from the cyclists before and after the exercise were analyzed at the NCRC Metabolomics Laboratory for more than 100 metabolites — molecules associated with metabolism.

“Bananas come prepackaged with fiber, nutrients and antioxidants,” said Nieman, adding the research translates to any exercise.”

The mode of exercise is not the issue. I think there are a lot of athletes who don’t like the thought of drinking carbohydrate sports drinks, which are essentially flavored sugar water,” he said. “This type of research shows that you can have healthier carbohydrate sources before and after exercise that will support athletic performance just as well as a sports drink,” Nieman said.

About the research team Other members of the research team from Appalachian were Dr. Dru Henson, Department of Biology; Dr. Andrew Shanely, Human Performance Lab; Dr. Amy M. Knab, Human Performance Lab; Dr. Lynn Cialdella-Kam, Human Performance Lab; Dr. Nicholas D. Gillitt, Dole Nutrition Research Laboratory, N.C. Research Campus; Dr. Wei Sha, UNC Charlotte and N.C. Research Campus; and Dr. Fuxia Jin, Dole Nutrition Research Laboratory, N.C. Research Campus

Keeping hydrated: nothing gets you up in the morning like a full bladder!

I used to wake up every morning thirsty and lethargic, which made it really hard to get up in the morning. This is not an ideal scenario if trying to get to an early morning workout. A comfortable bed and a partner beside you will always be hard to leave in the morning for a cycle in the cold and dark, but I realized my dehydration was something I could control and eliminate. Every little bit counts, right?

I realized I was becoming dehydrated overnight, thus impacting my ability to get up and my performance in training. Drinking fluids upon waking up soon eliminated this early morning drag and eliminated one more excuse to skip training.

keeping hydrated while training for triathlon ironman race day training nutrition diet tips advice

What is dehydration?
Simple: dehydration occurs when more fluids leave the body than enter it. We lose water constantly as we breathe, sweat and urinate.

This can happen when exercising or through normal, light activity. There are different levels of dehydration, from slight fluid loss all the way to dehydration and significant body weight loss while stranded in the desert.

At night, even though we are not exercising, as athletes, our bodies are working to recover from the previous day’s exertion. This requires water, and when we sleep we obviously are unable to take on any fluids to counteract this water loss. The dry air from air conditioners and heaters also causes excess water loss and dehydration.

How does it impact us?
Hydration leads to headaches, lethargy, bad moods and reduced alertness. Some studies suggest fluid loss affects our ability to sweat and thus cool the body – thus  impacting our training and race performance.

We are made of water, particularly the brain and muscles. We’ve all had a cramp in the pool or the end of a run on a hot day, caused by not drinking enough water. Water also lubricates our joints and helps prevent injuries.

Water transports oxygen and nutrients through the body which is key to optimizing athletic performance, while water is key for digestion and breaking down food in the stomach. Some studies suggest a loss of 2% bodyweight can negatively impact performance by 10-20%.

How to tell if you’re dehydrated.
The color of your pee will tell you how (de)hydrated you are – clear if you are hydrated, and dark in color if you are not adequately hydrated. A dry mouth & headache are also signs you may need to drink some fluids.

Rehydrating
Hydration is easy to reverse by drinking fluids. You can also eat fruit & veg that are high in water content. Drink a glass of water just before bed to get you through the night. Keep a glass of water by your bed to drink first thing in the morning.

Being slightly dehydrated is not the end of the world – apparently Haile Gebrselassie lost 10% of his body mass while setting the current marathon world record! We don’t need to keep the bottled water industry in business, but for us mere mortals every little bit counts, and I’m a big fan of hydration as an easy win. For me, a glass of water first thing in the morning and last thing before bed helps me get up easily in the morning and attack the day. If nothing else, an urgent need to go to the toilet gets me up and about quickly!

Reach for the water before that enjoying that morning cup of joe.

Chicken Livers!

On tonight’s menu is piri piri style chicken livers. I first discovered these on a trip to Cape Town, South Africa and fell in love. Combined with some fresh calamari and a gorgeous sunset, I had one of the best meals I’ve ever had…many times over the course of a week!

healthy eating for triathlon ironman triathletes nutrition balanced diet advice

It was Christmas though, so I treated myself. While generally healthy, they contain a lot of cholesterol and so should be eaten in moderation. Enjoy as a treat!

They contain loads of vitamins, in particular Vitamin A (good for vision and healthy skin) and B-12 (boosts energy levels & fights Alzheimers).

The recipe below from Epicurious uses some good spices – coriander, cumin, garlic and chilis – which have many purported health benefits. Take these benefits with a pinch of salt (but not too much!) Make sure you are using good quality butter & olive oil so as to enhance the health benefits of the ingredients as well as their flavor!

Link to recipe: Peri Peri Chicken Livers