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Nutrition - Eating for Sports

 

simple and complex carbohydrates naturally available from fruits for Wing Chun kung fu athletes

Carbohydrate

Scandinavian researchers in 1930ís found that larger amount of carbohydrate consumption by endurance athletes can prolong exercise intensity than if the athletes adopted normal diet. Firstly, the subjects were measured on the ergometer at a constant exercise rate of 70% VO2 Max. and exhaustion set in after two hours. However, when the same subjects consumed larger amount of carbohydrate several days prior to the test, the subjects were able to continue on the ergometer for twice as long. This is conclusive that endurance athletes would benefit from carbohydrate for energy. Carbohydrate is stored as glycogen in the liver and the muscles.

The bodyís Carbohydrate store is minimal holding only 600-800kcal/2500-3400kJ from the normal diet. An athlete running at a marathon pace would use up 600-800kcal between 70-80 minutes and the performance would be severely affected if energy foods are not replenished. The body can also use fats stored under the skin for energy combined with glycogen thus the glycogen reserves would last considerably longer. Endurance training helps the body to adjust to using fats efficiently for energy and sparing the glycogen reserves.

At low intensity exercises such as slow steady jogging, carbohydrate is initially the used then most of the energy will come from fat.

Exercising at high intensity will rely on carbohydrate store as energy especially for athletes such as sprinters and power lifters.

glycerol molecular structure

Maintaining glycogen reserves

There are two main factors affecting the rate of glycogen replenishment within the skeletal muscles. When muscles are completely depleted of glycogen after prolonged exercise, it may take 48 hours or more to replenish again. Heavy training sessions such as speedwork, weight training, hill running or competition would take much longer to restore the normal level of glycogen. The rigours of a marathon would take as much as seven days or more to re-fuel and the level of glycogen remains at a low level unless carbohydrate foods are consumed.

Most athletes in Western countries consume around 250-400g/9-14oz of carbohydrate per day. This would suggest that many athletes are failing to refuel their body stores of carbohydrate sufficiently within 24 hours. Eventually over a period of seven days the glycogen level is reduced to a level where training sessions is greatly affected. A diet containing 500g of carbohydrate per day is considered to be high and necessary for endurance sports.

A diet rich in carbohydrate will help to ensure glycogen repletion between training sessions.

Variety in training is important so that you have glycogen depletion interspersed with days where glycogen stores are not so heavily taxed.

A rest day is important - resist the temptation to train every day. With no activity, little glycogen is used and the free time can be devoted to preparing plenty of carbohydrate rich foods for the next few days.

Refuelling should start as soon as possible after the training session preferably within the first 30 minutes. This is particularly important when training most days or twice a day.

 

Foods rich in Carbohydrate

The best form of carbohydrate is starchy foods rich in unrefined complex carbohydrate. These are: whole grain cereals and cereal products (wholemeal or whole wheat bread, granola or muesli etc), fresh or dried fruit, fresh or frozen vegetables (particularly root vegetables), beans, peas, and lentils. Not only are these high fibre foods, high in carbohydrate, but also in fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals.

Carbohydrate content of selected foods (g per 100g and average values)

Food

Total Carbohydrate^

Starch

Fibre*

Cereals

     

Brown rice (boiled)

81.3

80

1.9

Basmati rice (parboiled)

85.5

85.5

0.7

White/Wheat Flour

77.7

76.2

3.1

Brown Flour

68.5

66.8

6.4

White bread

50.5

47.5

1.5

Brown bread

44.1

41.3

3.5

Wholemeal bread

41.9

40

5.8

Vegetables

     

Potatoes (boiled)

17

16.3

1.2

Beans (canned in tomato sauce)

15.1

9.3

3.5

Cabbage

4.1

0.1

2.4

Carrots (boiled)

4.9

0.2

2.5

Broccoli

1.1

trace

2.3

Chick peas

18.2

16.6

4.3

Onions

3.7

trace

0.7

Sweet potato (boiled)

20.5

8.9

2.3

Peas (frozen, boiled)

9.7

4.7

5.1

Tomatoes (raw)

3.1

trace

1

Fruits

     

Apples (eating)

11.8

trace

1.8

Bananas

23.2

2.3

1.1

Oranges

8.5

0

1.7

Pineapples

10.1

0

1.2

Grapes

15.4

0

0.7

Blackberries

6.6

0

3.1

Meat & Fish

     

Bacon

0

0

0

Beef/Lamb/Pork

0

0

0

Liver (lamb)

1.6

0

0

Sausages (grilled, pork)

11.5

9.7

0.7

Cod/Plaice

0

0

0

Dairy Products

     

Whole cows milk

4.8

0

0

Cheese (cheddar)

0.1

0

0

Eggs

trace

0

0

Examples from: The Composition of Foods, (5th Edition), (and supplements), McCance & Widdowson, Royal Society of Chemistry and MAFF, 1991.

^ Editorís note: Total Carbohydrate is a sum of starch and total sugars, expressed as their monosaccharide equivalent. It does not include fibre. * Englyst Method.

 

 

Body temperature during exercise

During exercise, only 20-25% of stored energy are used for mechanical work and the rest of the energy is released heat when the muscles contract. As heat production increases, the body starts to sweat to maintain body temperature in order to prevent excessive rise (hyperthermial). For every 1 litre/1.75 pints of sweat that evaporates, some 600 kcal/2500kJ of heat energy may be released from the body. It is possible to lose as much as 2 litres/3.5 pints of sweat per hour during prolonged exercise in a hot environment. Sweat is simply a dilute version of blood when sweating is prolonged or pronounced, the body loses both water and electrolytes. Electrolytes (salts dissolved in the bodyís fluid) are lost from the body at a much slower rate than water and this does not present an immediate problem. It does not appear to be necessary to replace these electrolytes during exercise. If anything, the concentration of the major electrolytes in plasma tends to increase. However, water loss will cause serious problems if no attempts are made to replace the lost fluid. Losses of fluid corresponding to as little as 2% of body weight can seriously impair the capacity to perform muscular work.

As sweating continues, the water portion of the blood decreases, reducing the volume of blood available to the circulation and making it more difficult to satisfy the energy demands of the muscle and to transfer heat to the environment via the skin.

Thirst in itself is a very poor indicator of the need to start taking fluid. By the time the athlete feels thirsty, the losses of fluid during exercise are irreplaceable. Therefore taking regular small amount of water throughout the training session will prevent dehydration.

Preparation for Competition

The most important nutritional consideration is ensuring that you start competition fully recovered from the rigours of training with at least normal glycogen stores. As training will result in substantially lowered glycogen stores, the first step is to reduce the volume of training over the week preceding competition. This, combined with a healthy diet containing adequate amounts of carbohydrate, should ensure that normal glycogen stores are achieved in three to four days. Consumption of a high carbohydrate diet can, however, result in significantly greater than normal glycogen stores: this provides the foundation for a popular dietary manoeuvre called carbohydrate-loading.

One of the main disadvantages of traditional carbohydrate-loading regimen is the lack of energy during heavy training sessions while taking low carbohydrate diets. A recent study measured the muscle glycogen levels in well-trained runners after they had completed three different types of race preparation:

The traditional carbohydrate loading regimen of three days low-carbohydrate diet (about 100g of carbohydrate per day), then three days of high carbohydrate diet (550g per day).

Three days of normal diet (350g per day) then three days of high carbohydrate diet (550g per day).

Three days of normal carbohydrate intake.

The results were clear that reducing mileage, while consuming a normal diet indicated higher glycogen levels. Therefore it is important to reduce the volume of training over the final week before competition and ensure adequate rest and a good basic diet. Gradual reduction in training combined with carbohydrate restriction and then a high carbohydrate diet provides 2-3 times greater level of glycogen stores than normal.

 

During Competition

On the day of competition, the most important thing to remember is never try anything new. Instead, follow a simple, sound nutritional routine: if you are competing in the morning, just eat a light carbohydrate rich breakfast with plenty of fluids: cereal with milk, toast and jam, peanut butter or honey, or baked beans on toast are all ideal pre-event meals. Do not take large quantities of sugar, confectionery or honey - the complex carbohydrates are best. Avoid those foods you know that will upset your stomach.

The best time to eat before competition varies between individuals: 2-3 hours would be a good general rule. If the event is later in the day, eat normally until 3-4 hours prior to competition and then eat a light carbohydrate rich meal.

Once you have eaten, try to relax - do not rush around as this will slow down digestion. Anxiety will tend to slow the rate at which food moves out of the stomach.

If you cannot tolerate food, try using some of the commercial liquid meals designed for sports such as carbohydrate drinks.

If competing throughout the day in bouts or heats, try to take in fluids and some carbohydrate between bouts of competition. It is important to consume starchy carbohydrate (sandwiches with low fat filling) rather than simple sugars (sweets, chocolate) or carbohydrate drinks.

If competing over several days, increasing your glycogen stores prior to the first day may help to keep you going. But refuelling between competitions is vital and this can only be achieved by eating plenty of starchy carbohydrate. Do not wait until several hours after competition before eating - start the refuelling process immediately. Do not rely on the organisers of the event to provide the necessary foods.

Recovery Post Competition

It is important that the athlete consumes sufficient starchy carbohydrate rich foods and beverages within 30 minutes of a workout in order to commence recovery process. Any delay in refuelling process will have a detrimental effect on the speed of recovery.

Try to ensure a proper meal is eaten which is high in complex carbohydrates within 2 hours of competition.

Make sure consume lot of fluid until urine is clear and copious.

Cut back on training after competition.

 

Well, train well and eat a balance diet ensuring adequate carbohydrate is taken for lasting energy.   Good Luck!!

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Master Wai-Po Tang, Martial Art Institute International, Wing Chun Kung Fu Club Classes, P.O. Box 628, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 1FF, England, UK.
Tel: 07976 610901 (mobile- UK) ; +44 7976 610901 (mobile-international)
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