If your training season is often spent taking time off due to injury and illness, it may be caused by your diet and daily nutrition regimen. What we eat all day, and specifically before and after training sessions or races, greatly affects the way our immune system works and our injury rates. Lauren Antonucci, R.D., from triathlon.competitor.com is a board-certified specialist in sports nutrition, Ironman triathete and the founding director of Nutrition Energy, she says, “Research shows athletes suffer from more cases of upper respiratory tract infections and injuries following heavy training or depletive racing.”
To boost your immunity and decrease your injury rate:
1) Try to eat at least three servings of brightly colored fruit daily. It’s also important to vary your daily fruit consumption. Bananas are great before a workout, as well as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, melons and plums to get the much-needed vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants to keep your body healthy. You should aim to include one serving of fruit with breakfast daily, and two for snacks.
2) Mix up your salad greens. Don’t always choose the basic lettuce or spinach for your salad. Choose dandelion, mustard or turnip greens, kale, and arugula as they are high in calcium, iron and antioxidants.
3) Fuel your training with a good balance of carbohydrates. “Studies suggest that adequate carbohydrate intake before and after during strenuous training can help counteract immunosuppresion that is commonly seen following exhaustive exercise.” Eat a carbohydrate rich meal or snack before each workout, that means even the early-bird training sessions!
4) Recover with adequate protein after workouts. Most athletes should aim for 15-20 grams of protein during the 30-minute “recovery window.” This will help your muscles recover and ensure adequate protein intake throughout the day.
5) Include “good” fats in your diet. Good fats will help to decrease inflammation, and will help to promote healing and recovery which will help to avoid injury. Simply add a serving of walnuts or ground flaxseed to your cereals or smoothies, or toss in an avocado or olive oil to your salad.