This time of year is special for our community. We all get the oppurtunity to test our fitness on a worldwide level. For every person this means something different - some of us are competitors, some of us are coming back from injury, some first time participants, and some simply want to prove they have put in a year of hard work and are better than they were last year. Wherever you stand on that spectrum, this time of year should mean a lot to you.
There is no doubt it can get hectic and stressful. You have been in class all year, studying material, taking practice tests.... but when it "counts", it counts! That whole concept can be nerve wracking. As the sport grows, there are more and more "strategy videos" and "tips for success" popping up all over the place during this time of year. As a nutrition coach year round, I thought it would be a fun idea to chime in with some Open Nutrition Strategy each week in hopes to clear up that space in your brain in order to use it on more important aspects of life in March - like perfect lockouts, getting below parallel, and making sure your heels are over that evil piece of tape on the wall.
After the workouts are released on Thursday evening, I will go home and issue a brief update on how I recommend fueling for that week's particular workout. I will get it posted sometime between the end of the release show and the time I go to bed - which hopefully isn't too late. In addition to helping you, this will be fun for me, because 1) it will take my mind off of the workout for about as long as it takes me to write the piece, and 2) it will help to hold myself and my team accountable in making sure we are properly fueled each week as well. I will simply add to this blog piece and reissue the link every week (you can also bookmark it if you're a smarty pants!).
Hopefully, the points I make and recommendations I issue are not that much different than your typical training day nutrition. As my coach and team captain explained yesterday -- goals aren't just attained. You will not be able to just set a goal and then turn around and make it happen. Daily habits performed over periods of time allow goals to be attained. If your nutrition has been completely off leading up to now, it is very probable that your training has been suffering and your biggest goals may be difficult to attain in the next few weeks. There is simply nothing I can recommend to change that. However, if you have been practicing good habits with your nutrition leading up to now, my recommendations should be easy to adjust to and should contribute significantly to you achieving your goals.
Let's take the stress out of the next couple of weeks. It is a test that we all knew was coming and have all prepared for. Here is to realistic expectations, performing great reps, staying honorable, moving fast, being consistent, having fun. In the end, it is still only exercise.
16.1 Nutrition Strategy
As soon as I sat at my computer to start this, I was reminded how much of a nerd I am and how much I wanted to go off on a tangent about a ton of exercise science madness about energy systems and the proper fueling for each system and purpose behind it. Although interesting (to me), this is not the place for that each week as I would like this to be fairly short, to the point - and APPLICABLE. Not just a ramble of science.
As you all have figured out by now, 16.1 is an aerobic workout. This means first and foremost it is a workout requiring optimal oxygen uptake. So, BREATHE! Because of the aerobic nature of this workout, your body is going to be running in the Oxidative Energy System (also known as the Kreb's Cycle) for the majority of the time. The other two energy systems (ATP-PC system and Glycolysis) that are primary utilized in short burst, high intensity workouts require carbohydrates as their main fuel source. When we exercise, a shift from those two systems into the Kreb's Cycle can happen anywhere from 3-8 minutes in (depending on threshold of the individual). It is important to understand that as activity becomes longer in duration (like 16.1) and we spend more time in the Kreb's Cycle, our bodies will shift from the use of carbohydrates as the main fuel source, to the use of fats. If fats are not easily accessible for use, our bodies will have a hard time efficently fueling past the aerobic threshold and performance will suffer. This is not a time where I would recommend a refeed (high carb, low fat) day before or on game day. This is a workout that is going to require a great balance of both carbohydrates and fats as energy.
So, what does this mean for an athlete about to take on 16.1?
The day before: The main thing here is going to be making sure you get ample calories in the day before you take on 16.1. Now is not a time to under eat! If you are currently following macro numbers, I suggest increasing your carbs by 25-60g for the day, and fats by about 8-12g (this will vary by size of athlete). Although an increase in fats and carbs may look like an invitation for a few more donuts and cupcakes, hold off from that until after. It would be wise to stay with clean, whole, nutrient dense food sources leading up to this workout. There is a lot to be said for the acute, negative effects of processed foods on performance. If I had to recommend a dinner for 16.1 eve, it would be a nice 4-8oz lean cut steak (varying on the size of human you are) with a side of 100-300g of potato (same variance) and a fancy spinach salad (eat your iron!). Hydration is going to be HUGE here as it always is - work toward that gallon!
If you workout in the morning: By "morning" I am referring to those working out after only their first meal. I recommend having breakfast about 2.5 hours before you are set to "3..2..1..GO". Be a responsible athlete and get up with enough time to accommodate this and get your day going correctly. Your breakfast should be about 30% protein, 40% carbs, 30% fats. This will give you a relatively bigger meal and a solid source of fuel for your body to tap into. About 20-30 mins before tip off, I recommend getting some "quick carbs" in your system (about 30-80g depending on size) in the form of liquid or fruit.
If you workout in the afternoon: I will refer to afternoon as late enough to have to eat two meals before #StormDeCastro. In this case, I recommend a breakfast of about the same size as the morning exercisers, however I would recommend a slightly different breakdown. Because this group has a bit more time before GO, it would make sense to have a breakfast with a breakdown of about 35% protein, 30% carbs, 35% fats. Depending on how late in the "afternoon" you are going, you may need a snack between here and second meal. If that is the case, I recommend a bar with a similar macro breakdown to that of an RX Bar (12p/23c/9f). Your second meal should look more like 30% protein, 45% carbs, 25% fats - as you have already had a higher fat meal earlier. Same pre workout carb strategy as above, about 20-30 mins before GO, get some "quick carbs" in your system (about 30-80g depending on size) in the form of liquid or fruit.
If you workout in the evening: Here I reccomend following a similar plan to the afternoon exercisers, while adding another smaller meal about an hour and a half before GO. That meal should carry a pretty standard 30% protein, 40% carb, 30% fat ratio, but be a bit smaller in size than your first two meals. The most important concept in this group is to understand that it is crucial we do not go into this workout hungry. Twenty minutes is a long time and your body is going to need reserve fuel sources to tap into - especially fats. If you are going in hungry, your energy levels are going to take a hit. Everyone is different, and as an athlete you should understand what portions will be most beneficial to you in this situation. As with the first two groups, use the pre workout carb strategy - about 20-30 mins before GO, get some "quick carbs" in your system (about 30-80g depending on size) in the form of liquid or fruit.
As for "intra-workout" nutrition, I really do not recommend it here, even with the long duration. This is a 20 minute piece where you should go in and do nothing but lunge, burpee, and pullup until the clock beeps. Fuel properly beforehand and you will not have to stop to take a sip from your shaker bottle. That being said, if you are someone who is prone to getting lightheaded or feeling weak during workouts (email me if this is the case, because it should not happen) then I would suggest having a shaker nearby with some juice in it for easy access to a quick carb source.
Through this whole series, it is important to remember that nutrition is a very individualized process. What works for some people may not work for others. Some people generally respond better to carbohydrates, and some to fats - there are many factors that contribute to that. Now is really not the time to try something completely different from your normal routine. Finding the best gameday nutrition practices for you will be an ongoing process. These strategy tips should simply be some education on what your body is going through during the workout and get you thinking how to properly fuel yourself to perform at your best. Have fun out there y'all! See you next week!