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Fuelling for the autumn/winter running season

by Editor
Tuesday 7th October 2014
Tags  Emma Barraclough   |   Sports Nutrition   |   SiS   |   Science in Sport
 
 

Nutrition feature: Emma Barraclough, sports nutritionist at SiS (www.scienceinsport.com), gives some advice how to adapt your nutrition to support high milage base training during the winter months

Fuelling for the autumn/winter running season

Autumn sees the start of winter training and a wind down from the usual season of racing, events or higher mileage days.

This means your nutrition needs change slightly, with less of a focus on carbohydrate for energy and for maximising performance, and more of a focus on general good nutrition and supporting your winter base.

Many of us reduce our training volume at this time of year, and we need to drop our energy intake slightly to meet this requirement if we are to avoid adding extra pounds over winter. We tend to start moving away from lighter summer eating of salads etc, and start to eat more warm, comfort foods, which tend to be higher in fat and therefore calories.   

In general your diet should be based around lean protein, low glycaemic carbohydrates, some dairy products and essential fats, a wide variety of fruit and vegetables and plenty of water.

Although energy intake during training or racing may be less important, proper recovery is still key to help maintain your running form and help to prevent frustrating illnesses or injury during the off season. Protein is needed for growth and repair, and our requirement increases the more physically active we are. Proteins are made of amino acids, these are the building blocks for all of the structures within our bodies, including lean muscle, bones, tendons and ligaments.

You can only absorb 20-25g of protein every 3-4 hours, eating over this amount just results in you excreting it. This is the equivalent of a chicken breast or three large eggs. Try and stagger your protein intake throughout the day so that you have a feed regularly to support muscle protein synthesis. Always try to have a 20-25g serving within 30 minutes of finishing your run or cross-training session to aid muscle protein repair. Ideally this should be delivered with some carbohydrate to help replace your muscle glycogen stores and support your immune system.

Dairy foods also contain some protein and are important to include in your diet to ensure an adequate intake of calcium. 2-3 servings per day of milk, yogurt, or low fat cheese are recommended. Calcium is very important for bone strength, and to preventing vitamin D deficiency, which can increase a runner’s risk of stress fractures.

The reduction in sunlight hours and wearing colder weather clothing means that we receive less UV exposure and therefore produce less vitamin D. It has been long established that vitamin D plays an important role in bone health as it aids calcium absorption, but in more recent years the impact on our wider health has been better understood. Vitamin D plays a key role in the immune system. The only foods naturally high in vitamin D are cod liver oil and swordfish, whilst other fish such as tuna and salmon also containing some. Fortified foods such as breakfast cereals, milk and yogurts are also worth considering consuming during the colder months. 

Eating a wide variety of fruit and vegetables is very important. The more colours you eat the greater the variation in vitamins and minerals you will consume. Try to have at least five servings per day, if a few different forms; fresh, smoothies, soups, or frozen.  This will also help to support your immune system and combat the coughs and colds that are so common in cold weather.

For a healthy winter evening meal, try baked salmon with roasted vegetables and wholegrain rice. The salmon provides protein, omega 3 fatty acids, and some vitamin D. Roasting the vegetables in olive oil provides some more good fats along with 2-3 servings of your 5 a day if you pick a good variety. Wholegrain rice provides some low GI carbohydrate.   

Stir-fries are another good alternative to summer salads. Diced turkey breast provides a cost-effective, tasty source of protein, and when combined with a good variety of vegetables provides a tasty, vitamin-packed meal.

Soups with a protein source such as beans or chicken provide a great post-run recovery snack and are another way to get you on your way to five servings of fruit or vegetables a day.

So rather than slack off the mileage and indulge in too much comfort food, keep running healthily this autumn and winter with a good diet and look after your recovery to see you head into spring feeling strong.


Emma Barraclough is a Sports Nutritionist at SiS (www.scienceinsport.com). She has worked with Great Britain Ice Hockey since 2006 and provided nutritional consultancy support to athletes in a range of sports including running, triathlon and rugby. She regularly represents Great Britain as an age group triathlete and has completed six Ironmans.

www.scienceinsport.com

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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