Five Top Experts Give Practical Advice on Everything from Carb-Loading to Electrolyte Intake
EMERYVILLE, Calif., August 23, 2011 – A proper nutrition strategy can mean the difference between a personal best and hitting the wall, but all too often conflicting opinions and decades-old myths leave athletes without concrete answers to their most-asked food questions.
To make expert nutrition guidance accessible to athletes of all levels, CLIF® BAR asked its 1,500 sponsored athletes, coaches and dietitians what questions they are asked most often, then posed those questions to a multi-disciplinary panel including a world-class climber, the sports dietician for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association and two top endurance coaches.
While the experts bring different perspectives and philosophies to their nutritional approach, on four of the most-asked questions they agree across the board. To read an in-depth Q&A with each expert, including personal insights and usable advice on a dozen frequently-asked questions about training nutrition, visit www.clifbar.com/sportsnutritionqa.
“Should I change my diet or carb load before a big event?”
Sports nutritionists and athletes agree that the menu the week and night before a big event should consist of the same well-balanced and well-tolerated foods that you’ve consumed during training. What about the age-old notion of carb-loading? The CLIF BAR panel of experts says skip it. Assuming a well-balanced diet while training, there’s no need to attack that trough of spaghetti.
“The simple fact that you are reducing training as an event approaches should allow normal eating patterns to replenish your glycogen stores before the big event,” according to Matt Hart, ultra-distance runner and coach at CoachingEndurance.com. “Eating a massive carb meal will leave you lethargic and likely running for the bushes shortly after the race start.” (Read Matt Hart’s Q&A here: www.clifbar.com/matthart)
“I’ve been hearing conflicting information about sodium. Am I taking in too much? Not enough?”
Outside the athletic world, sodium gets a bad rap, but athletes and coaches know electrolytes are necessary for peak performance. The CLIF BAR panel notes that how much a person sweats, how salty that sweat is and how much sodium is consumed in a daily diet will determine the amount of sodium and electrolytes that should be replaced during training or racing. The panel suggests athletes determine their electrolyte needs and create a personalized plan before race day by experimenting with electrolyte replacement during training.
“Sodium not only helps with fluid intake, but also with carbohydrate uptake,” said Adam Korzun, sports dietitian for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association. “I generally recommend at least 100 milligrams of sodium per 8 ounces of fluid—more if you are a high salt sweater or training in extreme environments.” (Read Adam Korzun’s Q&A here: www.clifbar.com/adamkorzun)
“Are some foods better than others for training or event nutrition?”
For optimal performance, the CLIF BAR panelists agree that a year-round diet of well-balanced, whole foods is an essential part of building a nutritional base, but notes these foods can be inconvenient or unpalatable during a long run or tough climb. During an event, they suggest taking in a blend of easily digested and quickly available carbohydrates in an easy-to-carry and palatable way.
Alli Raney, world-class climber and author, says she struggled with bonking mid-climb until she started taking in her fuel as a liquid. “Some people (like me) find it hard to eat while trying to perform athletically, which makes electrolyte replacement fluid a great way to take in fuel,” she said. (Read Alli Raney’s Q&A here: www.clifbar.com/allirainey)
“What should I be eating after a hard training day or event?”
Consuming a recovery meal or snack within 30 minutes of finishing a strenuous activity is imperative, according to the panelists.
“The goal is to replenish muscle glycogen and branch chain amino acid stores,” said Joe Friel, endurance coach, author and co-founder of TrainingBible.com. “Doing so in this 10-30 minute window after activity will promote a quick and full recovery and give you the ability to perform at a high level in the next workout or event.”
Muscle glycogen is the fuel that powers endurance activity, and branch chain amino acids aid in muscle repair. Eating for recovery is just as important as your pre-race and race day nutrition plan. (Read Joe Friel and registered dietitian Amy Kubal’s Q&A here: www.clifbar.com/friel_kubal)