Athletes Shouldn't Go Hungry - Eating the Right Foods
by Clare Wood
If you are undertaking high-intensity training and competition, it is expected that you will feel fatigued in the short term, though on a daily basis you should not be feeling tired and run down. You may think you are eating enough to adequately fuel your workouts. However, many people don't realize that often it is the types of foods consumed that can have an impact on energy levels, particularly by mid-afternoon.
To increase satiety (the feeling of ‘fullness’) throughout the day, the key is to choose foods that are high fiber, contain protein and contain low Glycaemic Index (low GI) carbohydrates. High-fat foods may also increase satiety but are not good for sport or for weight management.
Foods that are high in fiber will fill you up quickly with less volume and kilojoules. A busy person’s lunch and snacks are notoriously poor in fiber Include wholegrain breads, or some salad with your lunch. Good snack options include fresh and dried fruit, nuts and wholegrain crackers.
Including protein in meals will help to leave you feeling more satisfied for longer. Milk or yogurt with wholegrain breakfast cereal, or 1-2 eggs with toast will be satisfying in the morning. A sandwich or a salad for lunch should include meat, eggs, or tuna. Protein is also important to include before a weight training session to provide the required amino acids for muscle development.
Low GI carbohydrates are always the best for general eating and weight management, but for athletes they are not ideal for all situations.
- Low GI carbohydrates can stave off the early afternoon munchies due to slow release carbohydrates which fuel the body for longer and delay the hunger feeling.
- Low GI is also useful when consumed before exercise to maintain carbohydrate availability with a more sustained release of glucose.
- Many low GI options (e.g. lentils, porridge, multi-grain bread) may not be suitable as they are more likely to cause stomach discomfort due to their high fiber content.
- Carbohydrate taken during sporting events (e.g. sports drinks) can override any beneficial effect of a low GI pre-event meal.
- Following exercise a carbohydrate food that is moderate to high GI is better for refueling, as it more quickly replenishes the muscles of the glycogen that has been used.
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