“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!
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.
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.
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:
Bananas Are as Beneficial as Sports Drinks, Study Suggests
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 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.
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