What to eat and when prior to exercise:
Thursday June 28th 2012 @ 1:49 pm
The food an athlete eats before, during and after a workout is important for both comfort and performance during exercise. Energy foods including bars, drinks, gels and other easily digestible carbohydrates can help prevent the distracting symptoms of hunger during exercise and keep you from depleting your energy too quickly.
The major source of fuel for active muscles is carbohydrate, which gets stored in the muscles as glycogen in the days before exercise. It takes time to completely fill glycogen stores, and what you eat after exercise can help or hinder this process. Eating the right foods at the right time after a workout is essential for recovery and being ready for the next workout.
What you eat before exercise often depends upon your unique needs and preferences, but should be designed according to the intensity, length and type of workout you plan to do.
When to Eat Before Exercise
Exercising on a full stomach is not ideal. Food that remains in your stomach during an event may cause stomach upset, nausea, and cramping. To make sure you have enough energy, yet reduce stomach discomfort, you should allow a meal to fully digest before the start of the event. This generally takes 1 to 4 hours, depending upon what and how much you’ve eaten. Everyone is a bit different, and you should experiment prior to workouts to determine what works best for you.
If you have an early morning race or workout, it’s best to get up early enough to digest your pre-exercise meal. If not, you should try to eat or drink something easily digestible about 20 to 30 minutes before the event. The closer you are to the time of your event, the less you should eat. You can have a liquid meal closer to your event than a solid meal because your stomach digests liquids faster.
What to Eat Before Exercise
Because glucose is the preferred energy source for most exercise, a pre-exercise meal should include foods that are high in carbohydrates and easy to digest. This includes foods such as pasta, fruits, breads, energy bars and drinks.
Suggested Foods for Exercise
Eating before exercise is something only the athlete can determine based upon experience, but some general guidelines include eating a solid meal 4 hours before exercise, a snack or a high carbohydrate energy drink 2 to 3 hours before exercise, and fluid replacement 1 hour before exercise.
1 hour or less before competition
Fresh fruit such as apples, watermelon, peaches, grapes, or oranges and/or
Up to 1 1/2 cups of a sports drink
2 to 3 hours before competition
Bread, bagels, pasta
3 to 4 hours before competition
Pasta with tomato sauce
Cereal with milk
Toast/bread with a bit of peanut butter, lean meat, or cheese
Glucose (Sugar) and Exercise Performance
If you are an endurance athlete, evidence suggests that eating some sugar (glucose) 35 to 40 minutes before an event may provide energy when your other energy stores have dropped to low levels. However, you should experiment with such strategies before competition because some people do not perform well after a blood glucose spike.
Caffeine and Performance
Caffeine acts as a stimulant on the central nervous system. It had been thought to boost endurance by stimulating a greater use of fat for energy, and thereby reserving glycogen in the muscles. Research, however, doesn’t seem to support that theory. When caffeine improves endurance, it does so by acting as a stimulant.
Caffeine can have serious side effects for some people. Those who are very sensitive to its effects may experience nausea, muscle tremors, and headaches. Too much caffeine is a diuretic, and can result in dehydration, which decreases performance.
Foods to Avoid Before Exercise
Foods with a lot of fat or fibre can be very difficult and slow to digest and remain in the stomach a long time. They also will pull blood into the stomach to aid in digestion, which can cause cramping and discomfort. Meats, doughnuts, fries, potato chips, and chocolate bars should be avoided in a pre-exercise meal.
Keep in mind that everyone is a bit different and what works for you may not work for your teammate or training partner. Factor in individual preferences and favourite foods, as an eating plan is a highly individual thing.
Thursday June 21st 2012 @ 10:02 am
Plantar Fasciitis is a painful condition resulting in symptoms of pain under the heel. It is often caused by overuse of the plantar fascia or arch tendon of the foot. It is a very common condition and can be difficult to treat if not looked after properly.
Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms?
Symptoms include heel pain, under the heel and usually on the inside, at the origin of the attachment of the fascia.
Pain when pressing on the inside of the heel and sometimes along the arch.
Pain is usually worse first thing in the morning as the fascia tightens up overnight. After a few minutes it eases as the foot gets warmed up
As the condition becomes more severe the pain can get worse throughout the day if activity continues.
Stretching the plantar fascia may be painful.
Sometimes there may also be pain along the outside border of the heel. This may occur due to the offloading the painful side of the heel by walking on the outside border of the foot. It may also be associated with the high impact of landing on the outside of the heel if you have high arched feet.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
The Plantar Fascia is a broad, thick band of tissue that runs from under the heel to the front of the foot.
Plantar fasciitis can also be known as a heel spur although they are not strictly the same. A heel spur is a bony growth that occurs at the attachment of the plantar fascia to the heel bone (calcaneus). A heel spur can be present (through repetitive pulling of the plantar fascia) on a foot with no symptoms at all and a painful heel does not always have a heel spur present.
Plantar fasciitis is traditionally thought to be an inflammatory condition. This is now believed to be incorrect due to the absence of inflammatory cells within the fascia. The cause of pain and dysfunction is now thought to be degeneration of the collagen fibres close to the attachment to the calcaneus (heel bone).
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis or heel spurs are common in sports, which involve running, dancing or jumping. Runners who over pronate (feet rolling in or flattening) are particularly at risk as the biomechanics of the foot pronating causes additional stretching of the plantar fascia.
The most common cause of plantar fasciitis is very tight calf muscles that lead to prolonged and / or high velocity pronation of the foot. This in turn produces repetitive over-stretching of the plantar fascia leading to possible inflammation and thickening of the tendon. As the fascia thickens it looses flexibility and strength.
Some experts think over pronation can always be determined by the dropping and rolling in of the arch. This is not always the case. Sometimes it can only be seen with foot scans, especially if the patient has a high arched foot.
Other causes include low arch or high arched feet (pes planus / cavus) and other biomechanical abnormalities including over supination which should be assessed by a podiatrist / physiotherapist / biomechanist.
Excessive walking in footwear, which does not provide adequate arch support, has been attributed to plantar fasciitis. Footwear for plantar fasciitis – both prevention and treatment – should be flat, lace-up and with good arch support and cushioning.
Overweight individuals are more at risk of developing the condition due to the excess weight impacting on the foot.
Plantar Fasciitis Treatment
There is no single cure for plantar fasciitis. Whilst many treatments can be used to ease pain, in order to treat it effectively long-term, the cause of the condition must be corrected.
What can the athlete do?
Rest until it is not painful. It can be very difficult to rest the foot, as most people will be on their feet during the day for work. By walking on the painful foot you are continually aggravating the injury and increasing inflammation.
A good plantar fasciitis taping technique can help support the foot relieving pain and helping it rest.
Apply ice or cold therapy to help reduce pain and inflammation. Cold therapy can be applied regularly until symptoms have resolved.
Plantar fasciitis exercises’ in particular stretching the plantar fascia is an important part of treatment and prevention. Simply reducing pain and inflammation alone is unlikely to result in long-term recovery. The plantar fascia tightens up making the origin at the heel more susceptible to stress.
A plantar fasciitis night splint is an excellent product that is worn overnight and gently stretches the calf muscles and plantar fascia preventing it from tightening up overnight.
What a Sports Injury Professional can do?
Prescribe anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen.
Perform gait analysis to determine if you over pronate or over supinate and prescribe orthotics or insoles. An insole can restore normal foot biomechanics if over pronation is a problem.
Tape the foot and instruct the athlete how to apply plantar fasciitis taping. This is an excellent way of allowing the foot to rest.
Apply sports massage techniques to reduce the tension in the plantar fascia and also stretch the calf muscles.
Prescribe plantar fasciitis exercises to help stretch the fascia and strengthen it once pain free.
Use a corticosteroid injection – usually best combined with biomechanical correction with orthotics.
X ray to see if there is any bone growth (calcification). An X-ray may be able to show bone growth, which may be a cause of pain, but research has shown that the presence of a bony growth does not necessarily mean the athlete will feel pain. Bony growth can worsen even after symptoms have completely resolved.
Use Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy.
Operate if symptoms do not resolve. This is more common for patients with a rigid high arch where the plantar fascia has shortened to benefit from surgery.
Proteins: The Importance
Saturday June 9th 2012 @ 2:27 pm
Why is protein important?
Protein provides the body with roughly 10 to 15 per cent of its dietary energy, and is needed for growth and repair.
Proteins are large molecules made up of long chains of amino acid sub-units. Some of these amino acids are nutritionally essential as they cannot be made or stored within the body and so must come from foods in our daily diet.
Should I be consuming more if I am weight training?
Strength athletes believe more protein is important to build muscle. It turns out that strength athletes actually require high carbohydrate intake and adequate glycogen stores to fuel their workouts. It is the strength-training workout that leads to increased muscle mass and strength. This is because all high intensity, powerful muscle contractions (such as weight lifting) are fuelled with carbohydrate. Neither fat nor protein can be oxidised rapidly enough to meet the demands of high-intensity exercise. Adequate dietary carbohydrate must be consumed daily to restore glycogen levels.
Can protein help me lose weight?
High-protein foods take more work to digest, metabolise and use. Which means you burn more calories processing them. They also take longer to leave your stomach, so you feel full sooner and for a longer amount of time. The cumulative effect has obvious benefits for anyone who is watching his/her weight.
In a study published in Nutrition Metabolism, dieters who increased their protein intake to 30% of their diet ate nearly 450 fewer calories a day and lost about 11 pounds over the 12-week study without employing any other dietary measures.
Although all animal and plant cells contain some protein, the amount and quality of this protein can vary widely.
Protein from animal sources contains the full range of essential amino acids needed from an adult’s diet. But red meat, in particular, should be eaten in limited amounts due to the high level of saturated fat it contains, which may raise blood levels of ‘unhealthy’ LDL cholesterol.
A high intake of saturated fat can lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and other related disorders. As an alternative source of animal protein, choose poultry, fish and shellfish.
Fish is a good source of animal protein. Oil-rich fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna, trout and sardines are all rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Shellfish is also a good source of protein and is low in fat.
Aim to eat a couple of portions of fish every week, with at least one portion being an oily fish.
Did you know?
Eggs contain all eight essential amino acids, making them a perfect source of protein. However, you’d have to eat at least eight eggs a day to get all the protein you need. Be sensible; include them as part of a balanced and varied diet.
Don’t fear vegans and vegetarians:
Vegetarians rely on plant sources for their daily protein. Plants don’t contain the full range of essential amino acids and so are not as high in nutritional value as animal protein. But by eating a well-balanced diet that contains a variety of different foods, it’s possible to consume the required amino acids, regardless of the time of day they’re eaten or in what combinations within a meal.
Foods such as nuts, seeds, beans, pulses, vegetable protein foods and soya products all contain protein. There are also small amounts in grains and dairy products. Due to this variety of protein-rich foods available in the UK, protein deficiency is rare.
How much should I be consuming?
Men should eat 55.5g protein a day and women 45g. In practical terms, eating a moderate amount of protein – in one or two meals every day – should give you all the protein you need. Most people in the UK eat far more protein than they actually need.
You should eat two to three servings of protein every day from both plant and animal sources. Here are some examples of one serving (about the size of a adult fist):
- 100g boneless meat (eg lean beef, lamb or pork)
- 100g boneless poultry (eg chicken or turkey breast)
- 100g fish (eg salmon, sardines or tuna)
- 2 medium eggs
- 3 tablespoons of seeds (eg sunflower or pumpkin seeds)
- 3 tablespoons of nuts (eg almonds or walnuts)