5 tips on how to eat for energy during the workday

sport in everyday life

This is how you get through the day full of energy!

Everyday problems of ambitious athletes

This article is intended to help those ambitious (competitive) athletes who have a shift schedule to work through in addition to their training schedule. This means that one or the other sacrifice has to be made.

And one sacrifice that is often made is that of nutrition. “There is simply no time to eat,” many will probably argue now.

The problem, however, is that this victim likes to strike back.

Consequences of an energy deficit

Even if the body can put up with a lot of strain for a long time, at some point it goes on strike. The most common problem with this group of athletes is that they do not have enough energy throughout the day. This can lead to a number of side effects. Among other things, the risk of injury and upper respiratory tract infection increases. Unsurprisingly, the general energy level also drops…[1]

You can learn more HERE .

This is how this can be avoided:

Avoid skipping breakfast

In the morning we train before work and without breakfast. There’s no time to eat after a workout, or you might be late for work. The result is always (sometimes) again: breakfast is skipped

Benefits that come with breakfast:

  1. Breakfast provides an opportunity to supply the recommended amount of carbohydrates. Even if an attempt is made to compensate for the missed morning meal with an extra large serving in the evening, it has been shown that rarely is the recommended amount of carbohydrate per day achieved if breakfast is not eaten.

Furthermore, Betts et al. noted:

  1. Those who eat breakfast are more active throughout the rest of the day.
  2. A meal in the morning can improve the regulation of blood sugar in the afternoon. [3]

Practical example

In the following lines, an athlete (5000m runner) is given as an example, whose carbohydrate intake should be around 420g/day. This figure is derived from calculations based on several scientific studies. [2]

In the first table you will find the feed of the example athlete, in the following table you will find a suggestion for improvement.

Breakfast

Nothing

CHO (carbohydrates):0g

With breakfast we already have a head start of 100g carbohydrates!

Breakfast

Porridge with banana
(100g oatmeal, 150g milk)

CHO: approx.100g

We jump forward in time and land directly at the mid-morning snack.

A serving of fruit as a mid-morning snack

Since time immemorial a popular and simple snack is the bar. There is absolutely nothing against it, of course, if possible a bar rich in nutrients should be chosen.

Snack

Bolt

CHO: 17

Better yet, add a serving of fruit or vegetables, which isn’t hard to do with a snack unit either. This provides not only carbohydrates but also mirconutrients and antioxidants.

Why these are important for you as an athlete, you can find out HERE.

Snack

Bar + apple

CHO: 36

Adapt your lunch to your training session

Often eating in a refectory or similar facilities, there is nothing wrong with that either. However, there are days when the training is relatively close to lunch. If this is the case, athletes should know which of the offered meals is the right choice.

When eating a meal with little distance from physical exertion, it is advantageous to make sure that it contains relatively few fats and proteins. Rather, a high content of carbohydrates is beneficial. Thomas DT et al. recommend an intake of 1-4g of carbohydrates per kg of body weight in the 1-4 hours before exercise. [4] Now, this recommendation can be taken very broadly.

The logical conclusion would be the more time before the workout the bigger the meal. Apart from these recommendations, each athlete must find out for him/herself how much can be eaten before training.

Noon

Pasta with tomato sauce + capers (250g)

CHO: approx. 85g

To increase carbohydrate intake, a slice of bread could be eaten with it. This provides an added value of about 18g of carbohydrates.

Noon

Pasta with tomato sauce+ capers (250g)

+ one slice of wholemeal bread

CHO: 103g

Recover smart & 2nd snack for in between

Glycogen stores should be replenished after completed workouts. If you miss to supply energy after a load, you miss an opportunity to regenerate better. Here, in addition to the intake of carbohydrates, protein intake is also important. The right ratio of protein and carbohydrate after a hard training session can help replenish glycogen stores. The stressed muscle groups are supported in the regeneration and healing process. [5]

Snack

Tangerine

CHO: 11g
Per (protein): 2g

For better regeneration it is useful to add a shake. This offers protein in addition to a higher amount of carbohydrates.

Find out what makes a good protein source HERE .

Snack

Recovery Shake

CHO:45
Pro:21

Spread your carbohydrate intake evenly throughout the day

Our example athlete orders something from the delivery service for dinner and treats himself:

Dinner

18 Avocado Maki and 12 California Maki

2 cookies (prince roll)

CHO: 235g

Since we optimally distribute carbohydrate intake evenly throughout the day, there is no need to eat such a large portion in the evening. It follows:

Dinner

10 Avocado Maki and 10 California Maki
2 cookies (prince roll)

CHO: approx. 135g

In total, our athlete comes to a carbohydrate content of 348g, of which 235g were consumed at dinner. So we see, his statement that he eats a lot in the evening was correct.

However, we also see that the recommended amount of 420g was not reached.

In this regard, it must be considered that the athlete was not in an intensive training phase when this protocol was recorded. If this were the case, the recommended amount of carbohydrate would be higher and so would his energy deficit.

The suggestions for improvement resulted in 419g of carbohydrates.

To make this change a long-term habit and thus avoid a chronic energy deficit, it is helpful to follow these five tips.

The 5 tips for more energy at a glance

  1. Avoid skipping breakfast
  2. Incorporate a serving of fruit or vegetables into a snack
  3. Adapt your lunch to your training session
  4. Recover smart! Fill your glycogen stores after training
  5. Distribute carbohydrates evenly throughout the day

It remains to note that the main focus here was on carbohydrate intake. Of course, other macro- and micronutrients should not be overlooked in practice.

Sources:
[1]        M. Mountjoy et al, “IOC consensus statement on relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S): 2018 update,” Br. J. Sports Med., vol. 52, no. 11, pp. 687-697, 2018, doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2018-099193.
[2]          C. M. Kerksick et al., “ISSN exercise & sports nutrition review update: Research & recommendations,” J. Int. Soc. Sports Nutr., vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 1-57, 2018, doi: 10.1186/s12970-018-0242-y.
[3]          J. A. Betts, E. A. Chowdhury, J. T. Gonzalez, J. D. Richardson, K. Tsintzas, and D. Thompson, “Is breakfast the most important meal of the day?,” Proc. Nutr. Soc., vol. 75, no. 4, pp. 464-474, 2016, doi: 10.1017/S0029665116000318.
[4]          D. T. Thomas, K. A. Erdman, and L. M. Burke, “Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance,” J. Acad. Nutr. Diet., vol. 116, no. 3, pp. 501-528, 2016, doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2015.12.006.
[5]          J. Collins et al., “UEFA expert group statement on nutrition in elite football. Current evidence to inform practical recommendations and guide future research,” Br. J. Sports Med., pp. 1-27, 2020, doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2019-101961.

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