Πέμπτη, 19 Απριλίου 2012

                               ‘'Must-Have’' Micronutrients for Athletes.

Micronutrients are all the vitamins and minerals your body needs to function well. From helping your muscles rebuild after tough workouts to keeping your energy levels up, micronutrients play a central role in your performance. If macronutrients power the machine, micronutrients oil the wheels and cranks, keeping all your systems functioning smoothly. Athletes such us runners tend to be restrictive about eating and can miss out on valuable nutrients. Here is a run-down of some vital micronutrients that will help staying strong and healthy during your training, so you can hit your peak performance levels:

Iron is an important nutrient for endurance athletes yet many athletes are iron deficient. Iron helps transport oxygen to all the cells in your body, including your brain. If you don’t have enough iron in your diet, you’ll feel tired, irritable and have difficulty focusing. You can get iron from beef, spinach, clams, oysters, chicken liver, sardines canned in oil and turkey.

Calcium as everyone knows, is important for strong bones and many athletes don’t get enough calcium. Activity builds your bone strength but if you don’t have enough calcium in your diet, your bones may get weaker when you train and you’ll be more likely to get injured. You can get calcium by eating cheese, yoghurt, milk, broccoli, watercress and kale.

Potassium helps keep you from cramping and getting dehydrated on race by balancing the electrolyte and fluid levels in your body. You lose potassium from sweating during workouts so need to replenish it. Potassium also helps build muscles. You can get potassium from red meat, chicken, soy, broccoli, peas, bananas, kiwi, citrus fruits and fish such as salmon, sardines, cod and flounder.

Magnesium is used in adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production for energy, muscular relaxation and bone remineralization. Low levels of magnesium can contribute to the early onset of fatigue during exertion, muscle cramps and nausea. Good sources of magnesium are wheat germ, nuts, rye, soybeans and figs.

Selenium. Selenium is a free radical scavenger. It benefits an athlete’s immune system and helps repair daily cellular damage. Sources of selenium include Brazil nuts, beans, bran, garlic, mushrooms and seafood.

Sodium.. Athletes performing physical activity in warm temperatures for 3 hours or more should ensure enough sodium intake through fluid replacement (drinking) and snacks.

Zinc. This mineral aids in post-exertion tissue repair and helps to convert foods into fuel. The best food sources are bran, oysters, lean beef, egg yolk, fish, wheat germ and yeast.

 ''Vitamins'' means vita (life) for your body:



Vitamin D

Bone growth & mineralisation.
Enhances Calcium absorption.
Taking Vitamin D with Calcium may help to prevent bone loss in athletes at risk of osteoporosis.

Sun exposure

Vitamin K

Important for normal blood clotting.

Spinach, chestnut, tomato, egg, kidney

Vitamin B6

Muscle strength and aerobic power in the lactic acid and oxygen systems. Combined with B1 and B12, may increase serotonin levels. This may improve fine motor skills that athletes need for sports like pistol shooting and archery
Cereals, muesli, potatoes bananas, beans, nuts, salmon

Vitamin C
Involved in Iron absorption.
Provides antioxidant activity.
Enhance immunity
Vitamin C after intense exercise may decrease the incidence of upper respiratory tract infections
Strawberries, bell peppers, cantaloupe, kiwi, citrus fruits and potatoes.

Vitamin E

Antioxidant that helps to prevent free radicals from forming
During intense exercise.
Reduce exercise-induced oxidative stress.
At high altitudes, may improve exercise performance
Olive oil, almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, salmon and wheat germ.

Beta Carotene/ other Carotenoids
Responsible for antioxidant activity in all tissues, mainly the respiratory tract and skin. Helpful in providing tissue integrity and healing wounds.
Orange, green and other coloured fruits and vegetables

                                                                                    Kate Chremou, Nutritionist, Ms

Δευτέρα, 2 Απριλίου 2012

Road Food: Nutrition Tips to Follow When You Travel.


Many of us are jealous about the chance that athletes have to travel around the world. Even if many travelling athletes collect miles around the Earth, we have to consider that- from elite to recreational — athletes have paid the price of letting their good nutrition habits fall apart on the road. Overeating at restaurants can make them sluggish. And the most feared pitfall — consuming something that irritates the GI system — will sabotage their trip, whether their itinerary includes the Tour de France or a long trail run in the Rocky Mountains.  
Know The Needs. Lots of athletes think they have to stick to high-carb, low fat, low-fiber foods in the days before a big race. But exactly what you eat is less important than knowing what you can eat. "You've got to train the gut," says Jackie Dikos, R. D., a nutritionist and competitive runner. The key is to test out different prerace meals, take note of how your system handles them, and remember what works (and doesn't) for you. If you know your prerace fave is chicken-vegetable stir-fry with white rice, you can search out Chinese restaurants. If you must have coffee before morning runs, you can make sure your hotel offers in-room coffeemakers.
Pack For Transit. You have less control over what and when you eat on travel days. So if you want to make smart nutrition choices while in transit, "you can't leave home empty-handed," Foods that are high in protein are satisfying and help keep you feeling full. Remember to also bring a snack such as a bagel with cheese, to tide you over once you land or while driving to your hotel.
Stock Up. Rather than stress over where your next meal will come from, pack food that will last for most of your vacation. "Too much mental energy can be spent overthinking food,". For road trips, Dikos suggests filling a cooler with sturdy snacks like apples and oranges, cheese, bread, hummus, carrot sticks, and even sliced turkey. Dry goods like energy bars, granola, trail mix, crackers, and peanut butter will keep in your car trunk or checked luggage. Hit a local supermarket once you arrive at your destination or to restock midway through your trip.
Remember the Drinks. According to a 2008 review article by the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, the dry air onboard planes causes a gradual fluid loss, so if you rely on the airline's tiny (and infrequent) rations of water, you're likely to land parched. To avoid dehydration, have at least one energy drink on your travel day. Sports drinks contain sodium, which aids fluid retention. To navigate pesky airport liquid restrictions, pack an empty water bottle and a stash of single-serving sports drink powders and hit a water fountain, or ask the flight attendant to fill it once you're on board.
Have a Plan B. If the airline loses your luggage filled with your pantry stash; if your favorite restaurant has an hour-long wait; if your spaghetti arrives smothered in spicy sauce — don't let the snafu rattle you. To avoid a food panic, try to remain flexible — and choose easy-to-find foods.
Got Snacks? Check!
Sports Drinks.
Energy Bars.
Instant Oatmeal
Heat water in the hotel coffeemaker.
Top your yogurt with cereals.
Honey: Snag single-serving packets at any fast-food joint.
Fruit: Apples, oranges, and bananas hold up well.
String Cheese: A good source of low-fat protein.
Hard-Boiled Eggs: Be sure to peel before you leave.
Chocolate: Portion control with individual squares.
Plan for acclimatization.
Altitude: If you're racing at an altitude above 3.100 meters, ideally you should arrive two weeks prior to the race. If that's not possible, arrive a day or two before the race, as you'll feel your worst from days three through 10. Heat: The consensus is that you should allow two weeks for acclimatization to heat, but you shouldn't train hard in hot, humid conditions in the few weeks leading up to the race. Ideally, complete some of your earlier and critical training days in warmer conditions to help the heat adaptation process. Proper heat adaptation includes improved control of cardiovascular function (expanded plasma volume, reduced heart rate), increased sweat rate, conservation of sodium chloride, reduced perceived rate of exertion and better hot-weather performance.
Let your fingers do the walking.
Instead of a last-minute scramble to find the things you need for race day, do an online search of the area where you'll be staying. Look for the best local (and nearby) running trails, bike shops, gyms, pools, carbo-loading restaurants, grocery stores and entertainment. Find out which restaurants serve your ideal pre-race foods, like pasta, and whether you'll need reservations. Book ahead if possible. If you arrive early, consider trying out the restaurant to make sure it meets your standards. The chef/restaurant may be aware of the race and the increased demand for high-carb dishes, so a special menu may be available or the chef may be more receptive to special requests. Check the local grocery store for your favorite foods, and if they don't carry them, be sure to pack your pre-race foods -- the last thing you need is try new foods or spending unnecessary time or money seeking your pre-race foods. Ask the hotel if there's a mini-fridge available for your room for stocking your favorite pre-race foods.
                        Healthier fast food options

Arby's: Sourdough sandwich with ham and eggs
Burger King: Frozen yogurt, BK Broiler chicken sandwich, chunky chicken salad, plain hamburger
Dunkin Donuts: Bagel, low-fat milk
Jack in the Box: Chicken Fajita Pita, chicken teriyaki bowl, garden chicken salad, Breakfast Jack
KFC: Tender Roast Sandwich (without sauce), Honey Flavored BBQ Sandwich with sauce, 5.5" corn on the cob (no butter), mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans
McDonalds: Fruit and Yogurt Parfait, Apple and Walnut Salad, plain hamburger, English muffin, soft-serve cone, Chicken McGrill (no mayo), Egg McMuffin (no butter)
Starbucks: Fruit and cheese plate, low-fat muffin
Nando’s: Bean burrito, pinto beans, chicken enchirito "fresco style"


By Melissa Wagenberg Lasher • Runner's World
Catherine Chremou, Ms