Sports Supplements are everywhere! I struggle to keep up with the latest products on the market with new brands popping up every week. As many athletes search for that ‘magic bullet’, sports supplements have become a multi-billion dollar industry. In fact, a recent study found that 40-70% of athletes take supplements.
A nutrition supplement, as the name suggests, is designed to supplement the diet and should never replace it. My approach as a dietitian is always “food-first” as your day-to-day nutrition is where you will see the greatest health and performance benefits long term. Supplements are considered the sprinkles, on the icing on the cake. It’s important to get the foundations of a balanced, healthy diet in training right first (the sponge), before adding the icing and even considering the sprinkles.
Supplements typically fall into three main categories: Sports foods and fluids, Medical supplements and Performance supplements.
We asked Professional Cyclist Nic Moerig to provide a little bit of insight into what it’s like on the road as an elite athlete. Her account may surprise you…
Words by Nic Moerig
At World Tour races you are constantly surrounded by athletes from the World’s top teams. You race together, stay together and eat together. In the dining hall, you’re surrounded by the greats. Wiggle, High5, Rabo, Liv and Boels-Dolmans to name a few. It still puts me in my place, being surrounded by these amazing athletes with years of experience over and above me.
I never would have expected eating in this sort of environment would have made me feel so self-conscious about my food choices. Filling up my plate at the buffet and parading around in front of the rest of the peloton with my selection of dinner on display is a nerve-wracking experience. Yes, I see the eyes watching me, just as I watched my competitors do the same walk of judgement back to their designated seats. How...
There can be many reasons for feeling tired and exhausted sometimes. Keeping up with the demands of training, getting enough sleep, managing stress, eating well and staying hydrated are all factors that affect how we feel day to day. Meeting our vitamin and mineral requirements is also key to feeling energised. A common culprit to feeling flat for no apparent reason is iron deficiency.
Iron is an essential nutrient for a number of fundamental functions within the body. Iron is important for:
It’s also an important nutrient for athletes as it plays a key role in aerobic metabolism (the slow and steady type of exercise) where energy is extracted from carbohydrate,...
I’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the line, the potato has become a forbidden food, while sweet potato joins the “superfood” ranks. The poor potato has been given the flick in preference for the miracle starchy vegetable, but how does the humble potato stack up nutritionally?
Let’s take a look!
Media claims tout sweet potato as the secret switch for weight loss, yet when you compare energy contents, a serve of sweet potato provides 36% more kilojoules than potato. Sweet potato is more energy-dense at the same quantity so keep this in mind if you’re trying to manage your energy intake.
Both potato and sweet potato are starchy veggies, providing carbohydrate in our diet. Sweet potato is slightly more carbohydrate-dense compared to potato. Per 100g, sweet potato contains 15g of carbohydrate, compared to 12g of carbohydrate in potatoes. Compare that to the same portion of white rice...
There’s been lots of talk in the media about chocolate being good for you. From lowering blood pressure to increase HDL cholesterol, it’s the new wonder drug (apparently). Dark chocolate, in particular, is rich in cocoa, which is the seed part of the cocoa tree. Cocoa is rich in a compound called flavanols, a potent antioxidant also found in fruits, vegetables, tea and red wine.
Research is emerging in the general population of a positive effect of flavanols on cognitive, visual and brain function. It has also been suggested that flavonoid and polyphenol compounds exhibit anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, improve blood flow and insulin sensitivity. There is however limited research of a performance benefit in the healthy, athletic population.
Chocolate lovers may take solace in a new study out of the UK, the first of its kind in fact.
Researchers found that dark chocolate enhanced performance in a small group of cyclists when compared to white...
Race season is well and truly here!
Have you developed your race nutrition plan yet?
WHAT you eat and drink during a race and WHEN can have a massive impact on your performance…
Before we delve into race nutrition, let’s not discount the value of your everyday eating plan. The foundations of daily healthy eating are where you will see the greatest performance benefits. Day-to-day nutrition helps you optimise your general fitness and training capacity, recovery system, immune function and both fat and carbohydrate metabolism. Once you’ve got the foundations right here, then you can focus on fine-tuning things come race day. OK got that sorted – read on!
Nutrition and hydration are very individual, so what works for your training buddy may not work for you. We are all different with different taste preferences, food preferences and gut preferences.
The amount of carbohydrate needed during a race depends on...
Words by pro cyclist Nicole Moerig
I was out riding with an old school friend the other day and we got chatting about nutrition. She has been cycling going on 1 year now and came from a running background, similar to me. Any runner would know how hard to it is to fuel your body before and during training. ‘Runners Belly’ is not what I would call the most pleasant experience. For this reason, runners tend to avoid eating around training. However, this is a very different story when out on the bike as you are cycling for significantly longer periods of time.
Halfway through our ride my friend went from tapping up the hills to falling out the ass of them (excuse the French). At the end of the ride, we got chatting and she commented on how much food I had consumed. It went a little something like this…
Friend – ‘You eat a lot!’
Me – ‘ha, what have you eaten during the ride today?’
Whether you’re a beginner runner or pro athlete, nutrition plays a key role in running performance. Check out these winning tips to eat and drink your way to peak performance.
Running is (generally speaking) a high energy burning sport. Sometimes this allows us to get away with eating whatever we like with little consequence on our weight. However, while burning lots of calories, runners still require a mindful approach to eating, as everything we eat and drink directly affects our performance. Just because you can get away with it, doesn’t mean you should be reaching for the biscuit jar every afternoon for a pick me up.
Focus on real foods to fuel training, with a balance of carbohydrate and protein-rich foods at main meals and snacks. Be sure to include lots of colourful fruits and vegetables as these provide important run-fuelling nutrients. Include moderate amounts of healthy fats such as avocado, nuts, seeds, extra virgin olive oil and oily fish...
There is so much media attention around low carbohydrate diets at the moment; it’s hard to decipher what is fact and what is fiction. Low-carbohydrate diets are not a new dietary concept by any means, yet they have made a popular comeback with claims of rapid weight loss and other health benefits. A quick Google search pulls over 2 million results in 0.3 seconds! Let’s have a look at some of the evidence and find some clarity around the concept…
Carbohydrate is a macronutrient found in foods such as bread, rice, quinoa, pasta, cereals, fruit, the starchy vegetables (potato, sweet potato and corn), legumes (chickpeas, lentils, red kidney beans) and dairy products (milk, yoghurt). It is also found in packaged foods such as sports drinks, gels and bars, soft drink, cordial, juice, honey, sugar, lollies and baked goods. When we eat carbohydrate-rich foods, they are digested and broken down into smaller building blocks, such as glucose,...
Name: Nicole Moerig
Sport: Road Cycling
Occupation: Professional Cyclist/ Secondary PE & Science Teacher
Location: Currently Byron Bay, relocating to the UK in April for the European cycling season
I have always lived a very active lifestyle. I competed in cross country running as a teenager, moving into Triathlons in my early 20’s and then finding a passion for Road Cycling more recently. Since 2011, I have been competing at a national level and was part of an Australian female cycling team Pensar-SPM Racing that won the National Road Series Team’s classification two years running. In January 2014, I broke my collarbone while competing in the Santos Woman’s Tour Down Under. This forced me off the bike for 6 weeks and as a result, I gained significant weight. It was at this point that I visited my first dietitian.
In 2015 after working as a full-time teacher for 7 years, fitting training in around work and competing on the...
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