As an endurance athlete, should you eat between meals?
As an athlete, I know it’s tempting to snack between meals on the things you probably shouldn’t, after all you train hard so where’s the harm?
As an athlete, if you train hard and you’re eating whole, nutrient dense foods to support your training then you probably find it quite difficult to eat enough food to get the energy you need. Snacking can quite often be the only way to make sure you get the calories you need.
Here are 5 guidelines you can use to help you snack to fuel your training without piling on the unhelpful body fat which will slow you down at your next race!
- Only eat snacks when your body tells you you’re hungry. If you’re not sure if you need them, use the My Fitness Pal app to track your calories and if once you have eaten your meals there’s a deficit then you can use snacks to make up the calories to meet your daily energy requirement. Snack for a purpose by that I mean to meet your nutritional needs and not for for emotional reasons for example just because you’re bored or stressed.
- Plan the snacks you are going to eat and make sure that you have them with you so that you don’t get tempted to dive into the nearest shop and buy whatever they have available to satisfy your cravings. Fuel stations rarely stock the foods packed full of the nutrients you need to make you go faster !
- Use snacks as an opportunity to make up for any foods you haven’t eaten during the day. Have you eaten enough dairy products today? If not grab some greek yoghurt and raspberries as a snack. If you haven’t eaten enough veg, try some carrot sticks and hummus. Do you need to eat more healthy fats, then grab a handful of nuts and seeds
- Use snacks as the opportunity to help with your recovery. If you have been training then you will need something to help your recovery. Grab a protein shake or a few dates or a handful of dried apricots and some nuts.
- Choose quality snacks which don’t spike your blood sugar and subsequently your insulin levels. By doing this you will lessen your risk of storing more body fat. This means that you need to choose foods that are either high in protein or fat or low in refined carbohydrates. Examples here would be nuts, seeds, protein shakes, veg, berries
Now have a think about the type of snacks you typically eat. Are they making you go faster or slower? What improvement could you make this week to your snacking habits?