Eat smart now for your best day on the Big Island
The 34th IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, this Saturday will be an exciting day for athletes around the world. As the top age group, professional, and lottery athletes put their arduous training to the ultimate test, envious triathletes from near and far will have the opportunity to volunteer and spectate on the big island of Kona or watch the race on IronmanLIVE on ironman.com .
Over the past few decades, very little has changed in the world of sport nutrition before, during and after competition. Consistent intake, nutrient timing and experience are the keys that unlock great performances. There’s no novelty in the importance of a well-planned approach to fueling our races. Fluids, electrolytes, carbohydrates and calories should never be overlooked by the athlete who wants to perform well race day. We all know that having a well-planned sport nutrition plan is a critical component to racing strong.
To execute our most solid performances, however, our daily diets also ensure that we’re receiving the right amounts and types of macro and micronutrients to support the metabolic processes that get us to the start line healthy. Not specific to the injured, over trained or burnt-out athletes, the daily diet is the cement and the core of consistent training. In between obsessing about the miles accomplished in training, don’t forget to pay a little respect to the body with real food, thanking it for what it allows you to do on a daily basis.
Training for an IRONMAN is no joke. Excessive oxidative stress, a weakened immune system, a foggy brain, lethargic muscles and frail bones can often trump the positives of a stronger cardiovascular, respiratory and muscular system. Over the next few days, choose to fuel your body not only for race day’s unique demands, but for longevity and overall health.
As soon as you enter the water at Dig Me Beach your well-fueled body will experience a quick jump in heart rate. Blood vessels will begin to dilate and your body will flood with emotions. Body marked and lathered in sunscreen, your previously calm belly may become unsettled as your legs tremble down the stairs to enter the water.
For the next 2.4 miles, swimmers quickly realize how much they value oxygen and the freedom to breathe for the next 138.2 miles. Because muscular strength and respiratory endurance are required to overcome the resistance in the water, every swim training session starts to pay off. Consider including the following swim-supporting foods in your daily diet as you approach the raceNitrates – to dilate blood vessels choose arugula, choose beets, spinach, rhubarb, and dark chocolate
L-arginine – to improve blood vessel functioning, choose watermelon, beans, and tuna
Probiotics – to aid in a healthy gut, choose plain low-fat yogurt, tempeh, sauerkraut, and kombucha tea
B12 – to help with the production of red blood cells choose oysters, chuck steak, and swiss cheese
Fiber – to help with digestion choose lentils, bran, and pears
Chromium – to help maintain normal blood sugar and insulin levels choose bulgur, oatmeal, brewer’s yeast, and potatoes
Water – despite being surrounded by it, swimming causes your body to perspire. To also help with digestion before a race, be sure to focus on a healthy hydration strategy on the days leading up to a race
As swimmers exit the water to prepare for one of the most physically and mentally draining, yet beautiful rides of their life, it’s time to focus on the next leg of this exciting journey.
Enter the lava fields and the out-and-back bike route becomes anything but boring. You’ll battle the blazing heat, the legendary taxing climb to Hawi, and the persistent cross winds. For many, this is the most overlooked energy-costing portion of the race. At no other time in your cycling career will you be forced to show off your exceptional bike handling skills and never will your body beg for so many fluids, electrolytes and energy-boosting carbs as it will here. Consider including the following bike-supporting foods in your daily diet as you approach the raceChromium – plays a key role in neurotransmitters involved in memory and muscle function; choose eggs, chicken, dried parsley, Brussels sprouts, skim milk, flax seeds
Folic acid – to help with red blood cell creation, DNA synthesis and repair, prevention of anemia and cellular growth; choose spinach, asparagus, papaya, pinto beans, avocado
Magnesium –to help with heart rhythm, muscle and nerve functioning and bone strength; choose brazil nuts (1 per day), quinoa, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, black beans
Potassium – playing a role in fluid balance, blood pressure and cardiac functioning choose bananas, sweet potatoes, crimini mushrooms, prunes, milk, salmon
Sodium – important for fluid balance; visit your favorite Big Island pizza or pasta restaurant for a delicious sodium-rich pre race meal
Vitamin A – needed for optimal vision, healthy skin and to boost the immune system; choose paprika, carrots, kale, dried basil, butternut squash
B1 – to help the body metabolize carbohydrates and for a better mood; choose wheat germ, lean pork, pecans, brown rice, tuna
Vitamin C – to protect cells from oxidative stress and help the body form collagen; choose yellow bell peppers, thyme, broccoli, kiwi, oranges, strawberries
Water – to help regulate temperature, loosen joints, transport nutrients, help with digestion and move waste throughout the body, water is the essential component of the foundation of fueling (fluids, electrolytes, carbohydrates, calories)
So you thought electrolytes were important on the bike? It isn’t until you step onto the hot pavement on Ali’i drive that you are thankful that you have fueled consistently. All the liquid calories will have helped with hydration status and blood pH to support nerve, cardiac and muscular functioning. With the volunteers and spectators giving you more energy than can be found in a cup of cola, you find yourself buzzing with emotion on this, the final leg of your 140.6 mile journey. As you shuffle your way up Palani Road, the rolling hills on the Queen K appear much longer and taller than they did on the bike. Questioning your energy with each step, you finally make a left turn toward the Energy Lab, which sucks the energy from even the well-fueled athletes. Not once in training has your body had to battle central and peripheral fatigue like it will for the last six miles of the marathon. Overcome with mixed feelings, your body is screaming as you make your way back to town. Nevertheless, the amazing volunteers keep you going, despite every muscle group wanting to surrender.
With less than two miles to go, the crowds are two and three rows deep and Mike Reilly is waiting for you on that notorious white line. Suddenly, your weak body perceives an unfamiliar amount of energy and you sprint (so you think) the last 100 meters in the finishing chute.
As you high-five the children who aspire to be you one day, you raise your hands in the air to signify that you are now an Ironman World Championship finisher!
Two volunteers support your sweat, gel and sport drink-covered body to the massage and food tent and, with a well-earned medal around your neck, you thank your body for taking you on this indescribable journey.
After the pain fades, you are asking yourself “what is next?” As you set your sights on another thrilling race season, never forget that a diet filled with energy producing, immune-system boosting and important vitamins and minerals will allow your body to maintain this life-changing lifestyle for the rest of your life. Consider including the following run-supporting foods in your daily diet as you approach the raceIron – a key component of red blood cells and energy production; choose sardines, lean meat, pumpkin seeds, tofu, baked potato, and molasses
Calcium – essential for bone growth, muscle contraction and transmission of nerve signals; choose soy milk, hard cheeses, yogurt, almonds, and figs
Copper – important for the metabolism of iron, reduce oxidative stress and help with bone and connective tissue production; choose cocoa powder, tahini paste, sundried tomatoes, marjoram, barley
Phosphorus – to help regulate calcium and for making ATP (energy); choose rice bran, edamame, pine nuts, halibut, mozzarella cheese, wheat and rice bran
Niacin (and tryptophan) – to assist in the conversion of foods to energy choose turkey, spelt, peanuts, and soybeans
Zinc – playing a role in digestion, energy metabolism, eye health, insulin sensitivity, wound healing and appetite,a choose beef chuck or shank, oatmeal, chickpeas, and sesame seeds
Water – making up about 60 percent of your body weight, every system of your body requires water; never overlook the importance of liquid calories during training and racing
Marni Sumbal is a clinical dietitian, writer, and public speaker who specializes in sport nutrition. She is the owner of Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition, LLC, a five-time IRONMAN finisher, and a two-time IRONMAN World Championship finisher. Earlier this year, she won the amateur race at Branson 70.3 and the Iron Girl Clearwater Half Marathon. Enjoying an active and healthful lifestyle, she enjoys vegetarian cooking and running with her furry best friend, Campy.
Read more: Fueling Kona: Your Daily Plate : LAVA Magazine http://lavamagazine.com/features/fueling-kona-your-daily-plate/#ixzz28vXaR8Hi
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