Nutrition Review

Three factors figure predominantly in your success as an endurance athlete: genetics, training and nutrition. Your genetic make-up is a given. To improve your fitness you must consistently go through the cycle of ‘train – rest & recover – repeat’ and each day support this with the correct eating habits to enable you to achieve your long term goals.

Just like training, nutrition is both an art and science – there are principles that can be applied but what works for one athlete will not necessarily work for another.  Eating a well balanced diet doesn't guarantee success but poor eating habits can limit your ability to train and race to your potential.

Frequent poor training days, recurrent colds and lingering overuse injuries are signs that your nutrition is out of sync with your training.

Being a competitive athlete you tend to focus on race day nutrition but what you eat and drink every day will have a dramatic influence on your ability and success.

Besides providing essential nutrients and fuel for your body, food and drink provides a great source of enjoyment so there needs to be a balance between what you need to consume and what you want to consume.

Goal of Nutrition Review

The goal of a nutrition review is:
  • To assess your current nutritional habits;
  • Understand how these habits support or undermine your goals;
  • Define the changes that need to be made to support your goals and give you more energy in life for work, play and training;
  • Develop strategies to enable you to make the required changes; and
  • Specifically look at guidance for race day nutrition.
The end result will be improved athletic performance through better training and improved weight management.  It is as much about understanding your daily routine and habits as much as it is about the food choices you make.

This is not an exercise to put you on a diet nor is the aim to stop you eating/drinking anything you enjoy.  It is a stepping stone to help you to be able to make informed decisions about what and when to eat that supports your training and racing.

Nutrition Review Process

  1. Athlete data collection – 1-2 weeks
  2. Analysis
  3. Coach-Athlete Review – 1 hour
Athlete data collection

This consists of recording two sets of data:
  • Food Diary
  • Metrics

Food Diary - Basic

For a minimum period of one week, ideally two, you will need to maintain a food diary.  During this period you must not change the way you eat and drink.  You must log everything you consume and the time of day that you consumed it.  A brief description of the meal is also required – the more information the better.

Below is an example of the information that needs to be captured in the Basic Food Diary

 Tuesday 19th May 2015
 Time  Description  Details 
 07:30  Breakfast at home  Porridge, banana, raisins & mug of tea
 09:30  Costa Americano  
 AM  Drank water  
 10:30  Snack  Apple & Kit Kat
 12:15  Lunch at work  M&S ham, cheese mayo sandwich , packet of Walkers crisps & can of Coke
 PM  3 cups of tea (milk & sugar)  Handful of mixed nuts
 15:00  Snack  Banana and toast, Flora and crunchy peanut putter
 17:00  Pre training snack  500ml High 5 & 2 High 5 Gels
 18:00 – 19:30  Bike Training  
 20:00  Dinner with friends - curry  2 poppadoms & pickles, chicken jalfrezi, pilau rice, plain naan, sag aloo, 2 pints kingfisher
 22:00  Pub  2 pints of London Pride

It is important you log all foods and what they are prepared or covered in e.g. a chicken sandwich vs. a chicken mayo sandwich or a plain salad vs. salad with balsamic and olive oil dressing – in these examples the high fat content of the mayonnaise and the olive oil makes a big difference to calories consumed and also the amount of fat consumed.

The way in which you maintain you food diary is entirely up to you but needs to be one that is simple and quick enough to ensure that you keep your diary up to date.  Ideas for a food diary:
  • Keep a note book and pen in your pocket at all times
  • Use a note taking app on your phone
  • Use a voice recorder on your phone
  • Create a Google Doc or document in a shared drive that you can access from phone, tablet or computer.
Whichever method you use you will need to ensure the diary is in an electronic format which can be sent to your coach.

Food Diary - Advanced

To enable better analysis of your nutritional habits recording your food and drink consumption in such a way so that total calorie intake can be calculated will be of benefit.

See MyFitnessPal information.

Metrics

You need to collect metrics that are relevant to your goals but the most important two are:
  • Weight
  • Body Fat Percentage
Weigh yourself everyday at the same time of day e.g. first thing after you get up.  For the purposes of the nutrition review this needs to be logged with your food diary but the simplest way to record is to log as a metric on the Training Peaks app.

Ideally you will have a set of scales that not only provide you with your weight but measure your body fat percentage through electrical impedance.  For the purposes of the nutrition review this needs to be logged with your food diary but the simplest way to record is to log as a metric on the Training Peaks app.

Other  metrics that could be recorded are:
  • Total body water percentage
  • Neck size
  • Waist size
  • Hips size
  • Other body measurements

Analysis

Combining the information of the food diary, metrics and your training diary your nutritional habits can be analysed in preparation for the review.

Coach Athlete Review

A one hour conversation addressing the aforementioned nutrition review goals and answering any additional questions.

Resources

MyFitnessPal Blog

Training Peaks Calorie Calculations

Deriving daily calorie goal

TANITA: Understanding measurement of metrics

Indirect Calorimerty