Most youth athletes will have found themselves changing their usual training and workout plans to suit life in lockdown. But what many might not realise is that we have to change our nutrition to match too.
Any good coach or nutritionist will tell you that what you fuel your body with before and after a workout session is just as important as the session itself. Just because you’ve swapped your regular pool, pitch, track or gym sessions for the garden, garage or living room doesn’t mean you can forget about your nutrition. In fact, training at home gives you even more control over what you eat and a great opportunity to make sure your fuelling your body to get the most out of your sessions. To help with this, we’ve put together a few simple tips to help make sure you’re fuelling your home workouts right.
Now that workouts are being done from home and without the normal equipment you might use, it’s likely that your training load has changed too and what you eat should match this. If you’ve gone from doing regular double sessions in the pool to only one workout a day, then your body won’t need as much energy as usual. Similarly, if you’re going out for long distances runs or bike rides, your body may actually need more fuel. Every youth athlete will be different in how much energy or calories they need each day depending on things such as their age, gender or how active they are and each day will be different. If you know you have a light training day coming up, then choose smaller portions in your meals, or if you’re training hard, maybe add in an extra snack or two.
Carbohydrates are the bodies preferred energy source for exercise. If you’re training load has been reduced, then the muscles won’t require as much carbohydrates for energy, so carbohydrate intakes should be lowered to match this. Remember to refuel the body with carbohydrates after a session to help the muscles recover and ensure you’ve got enough energy stored for the next workout.
Protein is the one macronutrient that you should be aiming to keep the same in your diet. It’s an essential nutrient for muscle growth and repair. Preventing muscles from breaking down when training loads have been reduced is essential to help maintain strength ready for when the season gets back under way. Base each meal around a good source of protein and spread intake evenly throughout the day.
Aim to eat 3 high protein meals and 2 high protein snacks throughout the day & a high protein meal or snack should be eaten 1-2 hours after exercise.
Around 60% of the human body is water, meaning staying hydrated is vital, not just for sporting performance, but for general health and wellbeing as well. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids before, during and after your home workouts. This is especially important when exercising in the heat, especially if this is something that your body isn’t used to. Hydration tablets or drinks are a good option if you’re working out on a very hot day and losing a lot of fluid from sweat.
Keep a refillable water bottle on you at all times and sip throughout the day.
Because most home workout sessions are likely to be less than 60-90minutes long, your body will have enough stored energy to fuel these sessions and you won’t need the energy boost from a sports drink. If you’re planning to do a longer session, such as going for a long distance run for example, then a sports drink might be useful, but for all of your other sessions water is enough to keep you hydrated.
If you’re looking for inspiration on meals to support your homework outs, then check out the recipe section of our blogs to discover more healthy, tasty and simple dishes to help you reach your goals.
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Just as your youth athlete will need to fuel well to stay healthy, the same goes for parents too. Ensuring you eat a healthy and balanced diet will help to keep your energy levels high, so you’re better equipped to handle the stress and challenges that life throws at you.