Eat regular meals and snacks. You should aim to have 3 meals and 3 snacks a day. You should never skip meals especially breakfast.
Drink fluids regularly throughout the day. Fluids are critical for recovery both physically and mentally. Fluid needs are different for every athlete, drinking regularly to avoid thirst is important. A general guideline for fluid intake is 1-2L/day + ~ 400-800mls per hr of exercise. Alcohol dehydrates the body and also increases healing time from injuries, therefore it is important to limit or avoid.
Carbohydrate, protein and fat are the main sources of energy from food. It is important to choose appropriate sources for long lasting energy and recovery.
Each meal and snack should be based around carbohydrates. Carbohydrates that are high in fibre provide long lasting energy. Consume whole grains breads, pastas, rice and high-fibre cereals.
Avoid foods that have a high sugar content. Fizzy drinks should be avoided and foods such as cakes, biscuits and sweets should be kept for special occasions only. These foods are not only high in sugar, but often have a lot of calories with no nutritional value. Foods high in sugar do not provide long lasting energy.
Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Fruits & vegetables provide a valuable source of vitamins and minerals essential for the body to perform at its best. In addition to this fruits and vegetables can boost the immune system and help fight of colds.
Choose lean sources of protein. Protein is important for growth and repair. Choose lean sources such as chicken and lean pork and fish. Aim to have protein at all meals and snacks. Research demonstrates that protein is absorbed more effectively when consumed in smaller portions regularly throughout the day.
Include good sources of Iron and Calcium. Teenagers need more of these nutrients than other ages, however, these minerals are essential for all ages. Good sources of iron can be found in red meat, eggs and salmon. While good calcium sources can be found in dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt.
Eat low saturated fat foods. Foods that are lower in saturated fat and calories are both a heart healthy choice and beneficial in maintaining weight. To cut down on saturated fats limit fried foods in the diet. Unsaturated fat eg. Omega 3 fats are good choices when kept in moderation.
Recovery after training is essential to allow the body re-fuel and repair especially when training at a very high intensity on a regular basis. Good choices for recovery snacks contain both carbohydrates and protein. A good choice is milk such as high protein milk, if training intensity is high flavoured milk may be a better choice.
Michael McGovern, Crusader Committee Member, Chairman of Irish Milers Club
-------------------------- Various Coaches, Professionals and experts have contributed to other articles.
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