Top tips to fuel your activity
By Coach Jesse
At Her Spirit we are passionate about encouraging more women to become active. Our latest challenge, Lakes to London, sees Mel and Holly take on 500km over three days combining swimming, cycling and running over only 3 days!
Needless to day, the ladies have had to focus on upping their fuelling game. Maybe you’re wondering if you should pay attention to your fuelling? The answer is almost definitely yes. Here are five top things to consider when upping your level of activity.
Keep it simple, stupid or KISS
There really is no need to over-complicate what you’re doing. You could furiously google “the best diet for exercise” “the best supplements” etc over and over again and come up with something different each time. Get the foundations in place of your diet first before you begin to look into the nitty gritty. The Learn to Fuel programme has been developed for this exact reason. When you’ve completed that, you have the foundations to build upon.
Tracking your exercise, food, sleep, hydration, energy levels and mood is the best way of understanding your current baseline from which to start. Once you have this, you can look to where you need to adjust your intake, e.g. more food, better hydration and so on.
There are many apps such as MyFitnessPal whereby you can log your meals and integrate your training using your Garmin or Training Peaks, for example.
Logging any symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, poor recovery and responding with dietary changes is also a great way of tuning in with your body and listening to what it might need.
Quit the dieting Mindset
As a woman you may have a dieting monkey on your back. We want you to remain healthy whilst active therefore it’s time to avoid extreme methods of dieting such as fasted training and low carb diets.
Don’t scrimp on calories
Ensure that you’re eating enough to fuel your active lifestyle. Practically speaking this translates into not skipping breakfast and other meals and eating at regular intervals, not excluding or reducing entire food groups such as fats or carbohydrates. If you start to rapidly lose weight, are low on energy or dizzy, these could be the first signs that you need to eat more.
Include all macronutrients and fruit and vegetables at each meal
This will ensure that all of your needs are covered at a basic level, for both fuelling and health. Simplistically, protein repairs your muscles and cells, carbs are your primary energy source, fats for healthy cells and hormones and also a fuel source, and the mighty fruit and vegetables for our overall health.
Protein isn’t just for bodybuilders
Proteins are the building blocks of life. Dietary protein helps to repair muscles and cells, protecting your health and bones. The amount you need depends upon your goals, but a minimum of a quarter of your plate or a palm-sized portion is a good starting place.
Carbs are not a dirty word
Carbohydrates are the body and brains primary fuel source. Again, the amount you need depends upon your goals and preferences, but a quarter of a plate at each meal is a good baseline. The more active you are, the more you need, particularly for endurance-based activity such as cycling, swimming or running.
Neither are fats
Don’t fear fats. Serve each meal with a thumb-sized portion. Not only are they important for healthy hormones, cells and vitamin transportation, they are also useful calories. Adding some more healthy fats to a meal or snack can be a simple method of upping the calories without too much additional food volume. For example, some nut butter in a smoothie, olive oil on salad, butter on vegetables, fatty cuts of fish and avocados.
Plan your meals and fuel before, after and during training
Once you have the basics in place, you can begin to explore planning your daily meals and snacks, and this includes the fuel you will take on board before, during and after training.
This is where you’ll probably need the guidance of our Fuel Coach, Jesse, who can help you to navigate any of the above.
At a basic level, you are well hydrated if your pee is a straw like colour. All fluid and many foods are hydrating also. Milk, for example is more hydrating than water because it contains electrolytes.
The more advanced your training becomes, particularly when you increase the length of time, the more you need to think about more advanced hydration strategies.
Get plenty of sleep
Sleep is where the magic happens. Not only does it provide us with the rest, ready to go again the next day, the muscles and body rests, repairs and makes adaptations to the exercise.
Getting the foundations in place first is a vital part of being active. When you are looking at specific goals, training for endurance exercise, for example, you’ll then need to explore more specificity in your fuelling as you would with training.
Our Fuel Coach, Jesse, is available for 1-2-1 coaching be it from getting these basics nailed to more specificity for your goals.
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