Nutrition and hydration are critical to getting the most out of your training and performing at your best in a race. It is also crucial in ensuring that you recover fully and in timely manner between training sessions. The following are some thoughts on how to ensure you remain fuelled and watered to get the most out of your training and racing.
You should aim to consume a high carbohydrate, low GI meal 2-4 hours prior to training or racing. The meal should contain 2.5g/kg body weight of carbs and be moderate in fibre – e.g. baked potatoes, whole wheat pasta with low fat sauces. You could take a lighter snack 1-2 hours prior to the game, examples would be bananas, cereal, rice pudding, sports bars.
Where training or a race is longer than 60 minutes you will need to replenish your glycogen stores and top up fluid levels. Accessing an isotonic sports drink would be appropriate as they are high GI. You should aim to replenish carbs at the rate of 1g/kg body weight/hour. Sports drinks, gels energy bars are all appropriate approaches to refuelling.
In the first 2hrs post training/racing you should consume 1g/kg body weight of high GI carbs – e.g. fresh fruit smoothie, malt loaf and a further 50g of carbs in the 2-4 hrs after that. Post exercise you should also look to take on 15-25g of protein – a fresh fruit smoothie is an excellent post race choice as it combines carb and protein intake.
4 hrs prior to training or racing you should consume 5-7ml/kg of fluid to ensure you start well hydrated.
You should aim to drink at regular intervals during exercise as the stomach processes fluids more efficiently when kept topped up as opposed to emptying then re-filling - little and often is the key.
Post exercise look to replace lost fluids by 150%. As guidance - for every 1kg in weight lost during exercise you will have lost 1ltr of fluid and should therefore replenish with 1.5 ltr.
Generally you should aim to drink daily 1ml per kcal burned – e.g. if you burn 2800kcal per day you should be looking to consume 2.8ltr fluid per day.
To calculate your rate of fluid replenishment more accurately you should weigh yourself without clothes before and after a one hour training session. Exercise at the intensity you plan to race at in your “A” priority race. Every kg lost is equal to a litre of water lost. For example if you are 0.75 kg lighter after training your fluid replenishment rate will be 0.75 ltr (750ml) per hour. You should aim to make up any deficit in body weight by 150% - in this scenario it would mean consuming 750ml x 150% - 1.125 ltr of water. Remember to account for any fluids consumed (or passed!) during the session as these will impact the result.