Research has provided guidelines for athletes in terms of hourly calorie intake during training but it is the athlete's responsibility to fine tune this amount to customize it for their body's needs.
Because of the high risk of GI distress when consuming a large amount of calories during exercise, athletes should strive to improve their metabolic efficiency first and foremost. This will lead to a lower hourly calorie need while maintaining high energy. Training the digestive system to take in a high amount of calories is neither healthy nor realistic in some training and competition conditions.
Myth #3: I need to eat extra calories after a big workout or race.
Sure you need to refuel and rehydrate afterwards but athletes usually fall prey to using training or racing as a reward or excuse to overindulge. There is merit to putting in fluid, carbohydrate, protein and sodium in the 30 to 60 minutes after a training session or competition, but what many athletes do not understand is that you can build up your carbohydrate and fluid stores in 24 hours by following a normal daily nutrition routine.
Eating immediately after exercise can help replenish the lost nutrients faster (about 12 to 16 hours) but if you do not have a quality workout soon afterwards, it may not be necessary to put in the extra calories when you can rely on your standard food to do the same thing.
Enjoy the beginning of the season with these myth busters and get ready for enhanced health and performance through a more simple approach to nutrition. And remember, you can do much more with real food than what is believed.
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Bob Seebohar, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS, was one of the first USAT Level III Elite Coaches, and has worked on the performance coaching teams of many athletes including Susan Williams, Sarah Haskins and Jasmine Oeinck. He currently owns Fuel4mance, a sports nutrition company, Kids that TRI, a non-profit youth triathlon organization and Elite Multisport Coaching. Visit www.fuel4mance.com for more information or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.