With lockdown restrictions gradually relaxing and more and more sports returning to play, now is the time to start preparing your body for returning to training. With 3 months of reduced training, the body is going to have become slightly de-conditioned. Focusing on your nutrition now will help to ensure it’s in optimal condition to maximise your training adaptations, get the most out of your sessions and most importantly, to reduce the risk of injury.
Before you start
Before you rush straight back into long or intense training sessions, make sure you’ve got the basics nailed down. Get yourself into a routine of regular eating, aiming for 3 main meals and 2 snacks spread evenly throughout the day. This will make sure you’re fuelling your body adequately for when the intensity ramps up.
Thinking about routines, it’s also important to get your body clock back to normal. Sleep is essential to recovery and immunity so try and stick to a regular sleeping pattern and get 7-9 hours sleep each night. For more information on sleep and its importance to the youth athlete, check out our recent article here.
Once your training sessions get back underway, making sure you fuel your body properly before and after sessions is vital to maximising your performance, reducing the risk of injury and preventing illnesses.
Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred energy source for high intensity exercise. Even if you’ve been keeping on top of your routine during lockdown, you’ll still find that training demands ramp up once sessions get back underway and this needs to be matched by consuming more energy and specifically more carbohydrate rich foods. Consuming high carbohydrate foods before a session is key to ensuring your energy stores are sufficient to fuel the workout. After the session, when these stores are depleted, it’s important to replenish them as soon as possible. Eating enough carbohydrates is also going to help support the immune system and fight off any illnesses, so make sure you're fuelling well to maximise health.
Not only is protein essential for muscle maintenance, but it also plays a key role in the bodies immune system. Eat a good source of protein in every meal and snack and remember to spread it evenly throughout they day to maximise its effect and to help support the immune system. For more ideas on good sources of protein, take a look at our protein article here.
As training loads and intensities increase and your body adapts to the new demands it’s facing, it’s important to eat plenty of fruit and veg to help support this. The vitamins and minerals contained in fruit and veg play a crucial role in supporting the immune system. Fill your plate with colourful fruit and veg to help prevent any deficiencies from occurring and to promote good health.
Younger athletes have lower sweat rates than adults and can’t regulate their body temperature as efficiently. Staying hydrated is key to preventing detriments to performance as well the health impacts of dehydration and heat stroke. Saliva in the mouth is also full of vital antibodies that act as a first line of defence against illness. Make sure you drink regularly to avoid dry mouth and dehydration. Aim for 2-3L each day and increase this in hot and humid conditions.