Ever wondered why you feel tired and hungry after an active day out, despite eating loads? Perhaps you need a sports nutrition overhaul, which is why we’ve asked Kate Percy, author of Go Faster Food for her top tips.
Accomplished marathon runner and cook, Kate Percy’s interest in sports nutrition came about when her husband was training for the New York marathon. “His training started well but he gradually became more and more tired – he complained constantly that he felt lethargic and hungry” she says. “I decided to study nutrition and changed our diet. Like magic, he began to feel more energised and to really enjoy his running. I became increasingly fascinated by how some foods help endurance and recovery better than others and started to create my own healthy food combinations and recipes to keep up the energy levels of my family (3 very active children, my husband and me).
Kate has now taken up marathon running herself and has run many half marathons and cross-country races, as well as full marathons in London, New York, Berlin and Amsterdam. Her writing has been published in specialist sports magazines and the national press and she now has a new book, Go Faster Food. It offers advice for athletes, serious or recreational, on how to to eat for optimal training, racing and recovery and puts nutritional theory into good practice with hundreds of delicious and energy-boosting recipes.
So we thought who better to ask about how to fuel yourself during an active day out, but does her nutritional advice apply to weekend ramblers just as much as marathon runners?
“Any active person can benefit from a diet rich in low GI, slow-release carbohydrates, as our muscles depend on carbohydrate as their main source of fuel for exercise” says Percy. “Carbohydrate is digested and then absorbed into the body as glycogen, and if these glycogen levels are low, then fatigue sets in, stamina begins to wane, we lose concentration and our performance is impaired. This is as true for a marathon runner as it is for someone who enjoys a hearty walk. Low GI carbohydrates are released into the bloodstream gradually and so give a more sustained level of energy and help prevent hunger pangs and energy slumps. Examples of these tend to be unrefined foods such as porridge oats, wholemeal bread, pulses, basmati rice (brown if possible), pasta, couscous, and most fruit and vegetables.”
“A big mistake people make is to suddenly think about their diet a few days before a big event rather than consistently during their training” she adds. “Eating more and eating different food just before an event can make you feel uncomfortable and sluggish and worse still could upset your stomach. A good training diet should be nicely varied, with of plenty of carbohydrate (about 60%), a little protein (15%) and relatively low in fat (less than 30%). Focus on eating plenty of carbohydrates which are also rich in vitamins and minerals such as wholegrain cereals, starchy fruit and vegetables, pulses and beans, rice, wheat, oats and pasta.”
Finally, what are your top three on-the-go snacks for an active day out?
“My number one on-the-go snack has to be the good old flapjack! The oats in them are slow-release so they keep you going for longer than, say, a chocolate bar. I make my flapjacks with fruit and nuts, marmalade… even peanut butter. I would also pack plenty of oranges – they have to be the best fruit to transport as they are fairly indestructible (unless you sit on them!) and will quench your thirst as well as satisfy your hunger. Number three snack would be something savoury – marmite sandwiches on my home-made wholemeal sunflower seed bread are excellent to nibble on and the salt in the Marmite helps replenish electrolytes lost through sweat. For those who hate Marmite, then cheese is also a good option. I also tend to have a bag of nuts and raisins tucked into the side pocket of a rucksack for easy access!”
So now you have the perfect excuse to stuff your backpack with peanut butter flapjacks, just make sure you do the workout beforehand to earn them!
Kate’s book is £8.41 from amazon.co.uk and is available in our bookshop.
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