As well as thinking about having a balanced diet and getting all of the nutrients your body needs on a daily basis, athletes also have to think about what foods are going to benefit their sporting performance and when they should eat to fit around training and competitions.
Athletes involved in different sports will have very different diets. For example, a weight lifter will eat a diet high in protein to help their muscles grow. An endurance athlete will have a diet high in carbohydrates to store their muscles with glycogen for energy.
When building up to a competition, some athletes will also use a technique called carbo-loading, where they eat a lot of carbohydrate rich foods in the run up to the event. This ensures their muscles and liver are stocked up with glycogen so they have plenty of energy.
During an activity you shouldnt eat anything as your digestive system may not be able to cope as the blood is being diverted to your working muscles, not your stomach! You should always make sure you keep drinking throughout exercise though, to replace the fluid you are loosing through sweat and breathing out more water vapor.
It is important to eat following exercise to replenish your energy stores. Dont eat straight away though, give your body and hour or two to recover. In this time you should continue to take on fluid to prevent dehydration. More about metabolic condioning for athletes will be covered in our annual Ultra athlete workshop by coach Gabieba