Dan Wotton is an ex London Wasps academy rugby player who has now become a Personal Trainer alongside studying Clinical Exercise Science at Bournemouth university with a view to moving into Strength and Conditioning coaching in the future. Dan joined the walk and agreed to make a few suggestions about exercise and eating.
Having spent a couple of days walking with Laurence, I can see that 3500toendit walkers would benefit from some advice on nutrition and hydration. The older generation can learn something from the younger generation - this is a serious mental and physical endeavour, and there is only so far you can go on cream teas and beer!
*THE BIG PICTURE*
· Lots of carbohydrates beforehand for sustained energy release
· Lots of protein to aid muscle recovery after your walk (Carbs are also essential at this point)
· Remember to maintain optimum levels of HYDRATION beforehand, frequently during the walk and afterwards (with water or sports drinks containing electrolytes such as Lucozade/SIS) - if at any point you feel dehydrated, DRINK (but not beer unfortunately!).
Let’s talk: NUTRITION!
Carbohydrates provide the most important source of fuel for the human body. Your body is able to store small amounts of carbohydrate in the muscles and liver as glycogen (which is then converted to glucose), but these stores are limited so you need to make sure you’re fully fuelled before your big days out! Eating plenty of complex carbohydrates (the healthiest source) leading up to exercise eg brown pasta, wholemeal anything, potatoes, will ensure a slower release of energy throughout the day in comparison to eating lots of simple carbohydrates. Remember to add plenty of fruit and vegetables to your meals, as well as a moderate amount of protein to maintain a balanced diet. Here’s some meal ideas you might like to try:
- High fibre/low sugar such as no-added sugar Muesli, paired with semi-skimmed milk or low fat plain yoghurt and top with some fresh fruit.
- Porridge with sliced banana + almonds.
- Raisin toast with peanut butter.
- Baked beans on toast (yep, you read that right!)
If solids don’t sit well or an early start prevents eating a meal or snack before a walk, a liquid source of protein and carbohydrate such as a fruit smoothie or meal replacement liquid can be a good option.
During the walk:
As you can imagine, hiking for long periods of time can be pretty tiring, and hunger inducing! It’s important to keep your energy levels topped up throughout the day, by eating little and often throughout the walk (smaller portions are easier to digest!). Here’s a few ideas for some healthy snacks to take with you;
- Fruits such as bananas, apples, berries and so forth (Natural sugars will provide a quick energy boost).
- Flapjacks/Granola bars (extra brownie points if you chuck in some fruit!).
- Mixed plain nuts & seeds (Contain protein, fibre and unsaturated fats which provide lots of energy)
- Peanut butter and banana sandwiches made with wholemeal bread (my personal favourite)
After the walk (recovery-it's not too long before the next day!):
There’s three areas that you want to be targeting in your recovery nutrition. These are refuelling your glycogen stores (carbohydrate stores), repairing your muscles via the use of protein through foods such as eggs, red meat, chicken etc., as well as rehydration in order to replace fluids and electrolytes lost through sweating. A recovery meal or snack should be consumed soon after the walk. Here’s a couple of suggestions for you:
- Chicken, avocado and salad focaccia.
- Burritos with beef, cheese, avocado and salad.
- Grilled, Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Sweet Potato and Vegetables
- Pretty much anything with meat, carbs and veg (Enjoy this one, you’ve EARNED it!!)
This is just a small taster of the plethora of meals that you can enjoy as useful fuel for the walks. What’s important to remember is that you know how your body works better than anyone else! Try a variety of foods to see what works for you best (and don’t forget that really important picture of said meals for Instagram!).