New Year, New Training Schedule: The Five Foods You Need to Include
Many New Year’s resolutions are already fading memories but there are still plenty of us out there trying to get fir or fitter. If you are already fairly fit, then taking on something more challenging might be what gets you going this year. But whether you are getting fit for the first time or building on a solid base, there are some key foods to include in any training programme to make sure you can build the muscle and drive the energy you need to see it through.
Although carbs can get a bad press, there is a world of difference between a processed to death cake or biscuit and a good wholegrain bread. Wholegrains are a source of energy for anyone running and the carbs in wholegrains get turned into glycogen in your muscles. Glycogen is your muscles’ go-to fuel for exercise. Try a wholegrain cereal like porridge as part of breakfast, add some wholegrain bread a to lunch or wholegrain rice to dinner – just watch portion sizes – if you don’t run it off, it will be stored for later and slow you down! Wholegrain carbs should be around ¼ of your meal.
Packed with vitamin C, the vitamin famous for its links with a healthy immune system. Vitamin C really does help to maintain normal, healthy immunity and runners can be prone to some extra coughs and colds especially when starting a new training schedule. Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C so if oranges are not your thing, try half a grapefruit at breakfast or a couple of mandarins as a healthy snack.
Not bad as a source of protein but beans really get into their own as a source of fibre. High fibre meals mean that you feel full sooner and it takes longer for you to feel hungry again. One thing we don’t need when preparing for an event is a few extra pounds impacting our time. Adding high fibre beans to soups, salads and evening meals can help you out and give you some much needed iron along the way.
A great source of the B vitamins B12 and Riboflavin (vitamin B2). B12 is needed to make healthy red blood cells which carry the oxygen around your body. B12 and Riboflavin also help to release energy in food and help to reduce tiredness and fatigue. Yoghurt will also add a little protein and a lot of calcium making it a perfect addition to breakfast or an afternoon snack.
Without a doubt, protein is one of the most important nutrients we need during training. Protein not only helps to build muscle, it also helps to maintain the muscle you have. No amount of exercise will build muscle if you are missing out on protein. Tuna is a fantastic source of protein with 29g of protein in one John West No Drain Tuna in brine. Tuna is also rich in Vitamin D which helps maintain muscles – and with the lack of sunshine we have in Ireland, we could all use a little more of the sunshine vitamin!
Sarah Keogh in association with John West
Consultant Nutritionist - MSc., BSc., MINDI
Sarah has a degree in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from Trinity College and a Masters in European Food Regulation.
She runs a food and nutrition consultancy giving one-to-one advice on nutrition and diet as well as working with some of Ireland's leading food companies.