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How To Fuel An Athlete

As I perched on the stool in our staff kitchen and sunk my fork into a tender piece of last night’s leftover lemongrass chicken, I had to laugh at how excited I was by something so simple that I do every day… eat! One question that I am commonly asked by friends, physiotherapy clients and other people who know that I run is “Do you have to eat a special  diet?” Whilst my instinct is to answer no, I forget how much education, guidance and advice from specialists in the field of nutrition have gone into what I routinely consume on a day-‐to-‐day basis… So in actual fact, there probably is a ‘special’ aspect to an athlete’s diet, which is why I thought I would provide some insight. I have no formal qualifications in the field of nutrition, therefore everything I write here is completely from my experiences to date! DAD’S PORRIDGE BREW I have always had an interest in nutrition and probably always will. Perhaps my Dad’s passion about animal and subsequently human nutrition in his profession as a Veterinarian has rubbed off on me? As a child growing up, I always loved food and am fortunate that my parents educated myself and my two siblings to consume a predominantly healthy and balanced diet. Having lived in the country town of Naracoorte for my first sixteen years, there was always an abundance of fresh and good quality meat, fruit, vegetables and dairy products. Some may also know the South East for it’s red wine – I was too young at that stage to appreciate it! In our household, breakfast was always one of the most valued meals of the day and I still look forward to waking up to a hearty morning meal! Dad’s famous ‘porridge brew’ has been a big part of my morning routine for as long as I can remember. Every night, Dad soaks a muesli mix containing oats, pepitas, gogi berries, almonds, sultanas and other assorted goods with yoghurt, water, chia seeds, linseeds and diced apple. In the morning he cooks it on the stove and then slices some banana on top. I could write a whole essay on Dad’s method but in short, this soaking process apparently improves the digestibility of the grains due to the activity of the yoghurt’s healthy bacteria. All I know is that is tastes good and it contains a lot of energy! THE GROWING APPETITE As my training has increased over the last five years, I have found that my appetite has too. Athletes tend to share a feeling of excitement when it comes to food! I guess they associate it with increased energy levels and it also serves as a nice reward after a hard workout! Here is a summary of my daily eating pattern (keep in mind that this would vary quite a lot for different athletes):

  • A hearty breakfast after training in the morning that has a balance of carbohydrates and protein depending