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Your training plan will reflect your goals, preferences and previous experience. You most likely spend time planning each session and totting up your weekly miles, but do you take the same approach to your nutrition? Do you know how many grams of carbohydrates you eat on a daily basis or how many calories you burn on a training day or rest day? If you’re unsure how to measure your calories intake check out Calculate Your Calorie Needs.
The food you eat provides the energy for each run, but it also fuels the recovery process in order for you to maintain your training intensity and stay injury-free. For a guide on how to recover from hard runs read How to Refuel. Sports nutritionists recommend that your nutrient intake is based upon the amount of lean muscle and your training goals, and these will differ from one runner to the next.
Therefore, although you and your training partner may have completed the same run, you should not eat the same foods in the same quantities. Top runners will have a nutritionist on hand to plan each meal for the various stages of their competitive year. While it’s unfeasible to draft in a dietician full time, it is possible to keep a closer eye on the foods you eat, the quantities and their timings.
Each of these three factors helps keep your energy, or glycogen, levels topped up as well as providing the building blocks for repair and regeneration as part of the recovery process. One of the easiest ways to apply the principles of sports nutrition is to look at your post-run recovery strategy.
Research has shown that taking on board carbohydrate immediately after training helps to restock muscle and liver glycogen levels more efficiently. Immediately post-exercise your body is most receptive to nutrients and delaying eating, even if you were to eat the same foods in the same quantities, can affect your rate of recovery.
While slow-release carbs are advocated for the rest of the day, fast-acting carbs are called for after exercise. They are rapidly broken down and absorbed by the body, helping to replenish depleted energy stores.
Protein has long been thought of as the reserve of the strength athlete and having little place on the runner’s plate. Early research failed to detect the loss of protein during periods of regular training, therefore underestimating the contribution it makes to fuelling aerobic exercise. Subsequent research showed that protein makes a significant contribution - up to 15% of your total energy expenditure during a long run. For a guide on what to eat check out Sources of Protein for Runners.
This protein needs to be replaced otherwise your body starts to break down muscle tissue – its own reserves of this nutrient. In the same way there are fast-acting carbs, there are fast-acting proteins which are best suited to after a run as they are most rapidly absorbed by the body.
The quantity of each of these nutrients needs to be considered too. Consume too little and the recovery process is impaired, yet take on board too much and you risk weight gain due to additional calories. You may use a recovery drink after your run, but this tends to be a generic product following a one-size-fits-all approach.
Sports nutrition company MiTONICS has taken the guesswork out of post-exercise nutrition, offering a range of personalised sports drinks to help you reach your goals. The exact make-up and nutritional content of the drink is unique to you and your goals.
Simply enter your weight, training goal and body fat percentage and the MiTONICS machine will dispense exactly the right ingredients in precisely the right quantities to help you reach your goals.
The personalised mix of carbs and protein is designed to repair and refuel after exercise. A mix of fast and slow acting proteins and carbohydrates aid the recovery from exercise and mean energy levels are quickly restocked.
MiTONICS is always served at ambient temperature as this is the ideal state for rapid digestion and absorption by the body. Your personal goal, coupled with your individual body composition means that literally thousands of drink combinations can be created.
Find MiTONICS machines at Nuffield Health, Fitness and Wellbeing Centres across the UK, as well as Gym Box, The Third Space and The Reebok Club in London. Find out more at www.MiTONICS.com
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