Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Are you a professional athlete?

I'd love it if I did have some professional sports people on my recipient list but I suspect I don't (please do correct me!).

So most of you will exercise for fun, for health, to stay slim or as an outlet for your competitive streak! But you're not making a living out of sport or trying to break some world records.

What's my point? Well unless you're a professional there's really no need to waste your cash on overpriced sports drinks and aspartame fulled protein shakes. Obviously if you're spending time training you want to make sure your nutrition is optimal, but most sports products sold on the high street are unnecessary and may even be bad for you.

Sports drinks - isotonic/sports fuel/recovery drinks ... Whatever you call them they are all essentially just sugar in water. Some will have electrolytes, but unless you're training 1hr+ daily and on a salt restricted diet you don't need these.
What do you need? Simple sugars post-exercise do help you recover more quickly but a regular fruit squash will do the trick, you only need to worry about isotonic ratios if you're drinking these instead of water during a long exercise session. Even better avoid the sugar altogether and have some fresh fruit juice diluted half with water.

Protein shakes - you want to bulk up so you buy the latest olympian endorsed protein shake. Read the label carefully and you'll probably find it's mainly milk powder, flavours and sweeteners ... really not good for your digestive system or worth the money.
What do you need?
Eating some easily absorbable protein within an hour of exercise will help build and repair muscle. Shakes are a good option because your digestion is impaired post exercise but all you need is a plain protein powder, either whey or rice protein, with no additives at all (check the label). Blend this into a fruit smoothie, or buy a ready made smoothie, drink a bit out the top, add a scoop of protein, shake and drink - voila a super quick and healthy recovery shake.

Protein and energy bars - bars are a handy way to have a snack and top up your nutrients before or after training, but most energy bars are high sugar and full of additives whilst protein bars are full of artificial sweeteners and indigestible bulking agents. Instead of these go for fruit or oat based bars for energy such as 9 bars, fruitus bars, laar bars or nak'd bars. For a protein top up on the run again look for the more natural bars such as Luna bars, Cliff bars and bounce balls.

Even these heathy bars are pretty pricey, but nature gives us everything we need - all you need is a banana for an energy fix and a mini pack of almonds for protein!

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