Monday 18 February 2013

Sports Nutrition Part Two: A Step By Step Diet For Training And Competition

In part one of this series of posts on sports nutrition, "A Holistic Diet For Optimum Health And Performance", I talked about some of the 'super foods' that are a 'must' for sports people. I also touched on the need for sports people to ensure that they have sufficient fat in their diet and explained the fundamentals of 'food combining', which ensures optimum digestion of proteins and carbohydrates by eating them separately from each other.

In this post I'm going to talk about the diet I recommend for sports people in more detail, as well as give a step by step guide on how best to nourish yourself for optimum performance and recovery, before, during and after an intense exercise session such as hard training or a competition. 'Food Combining' is fundamental to this approach so you may wish to visit my first sports nutrition post if this is unfamiliar to you.


The diet I recommend for sports people is based on the consumption of nutrient rich, organic foods, eaten in appropriate combinations for optimum digestion and utilisation (according to the principles of food combining).

Essentially you're eating two carb meals to one protein meal a day. At each meal you can eat as much as you like.

When you first start this diet you will feel hungry at times but that will pass.

Also, you will lose upto 5lbs in weight... this is a healthy weight loss as it is the 'bad' fat stores that surround the organs that the body shifts.

Within 5 days you will notice a healthy change. Usually the first thing everybody notices is that their thinking is clearer, they feel less bloated and in general have more energy and a sense of overall well being.

A change of diet is not always easy at first but as you get more comfortable with this new approach it will become automatic thinking to choose protein meals and carb meals and you will enjoy the benefits.


On arising drink a glass of water followed by your blended juice.

One hour later breakfast would be a carb meal but no fruit juice, for example:
                      pancakes with  and honey/maple syrup.
                      porridge with  and honey
                      muesli with a little goats milk (goats milk is far easier to digest than dairy)

                      toast and honey

                      cornbread with honey

Breakfast would be 3 hours before the next session.

If you train on arising (a habit I would seriously discourage - remember, first and foremost you are a human being and pre-dawn training goes against the natural bio-rhythms of the body), then a small snack of a handful of grapes or a couple of small squares of spelt/cornbread with honey with some water.


Lunch, if it was 3 hours before the next session/match, would be eggs - poached or boiled - eggs cooked exposed to air (as with an omelette or fried eggs) are oxidised and loose a lot of their nutritional value. Get used to eggs they are a marvelous source of tri-glycerides-a healthy fat. They are also easily digested well within the 3 hours before a match/session.

Lunch could also be avocado or hummous salad with rice/bread.


This is probably post match/intensive session so see below 'after the competition'.

On rest days you can swap around your meals... I have found that a carb breakfast, protein lunch then carb dinner works well. Even on a rest day you can take your protein drink supplement 1/2 hour prior to your evening meal.

Optimum Nutrition For High Intensity Training/ Competition

Let me take you through this step by step.


Sometimes you can feel hungry before a session - at these times I suggest some light toast/bread with honey which will be digested quickly so food is not lying in the digestive tract fermenting/putrifying while you're running around.

No heavy proteins before a heavytraining session or competition. (Protein meals come AFTER a vigorous workout)


Your body can manage the first hour well without any water/juice.

Moving into the next hour, sips of water alongside sips of juice (1/3rd pressed apple juice with 2/3rds water or 1/3rd grape juice with 2/3rds water). NOT orange juice.

You may add a teaspoonful of Manuka honey and a small pinch of salt if the session is reaching the 2 hour mark.

NEVER drink off the shelf fizzy drinks or 're-hydration' drinks as they are full of 'E' numbers, glucose, aspartamate etc... in other words, junk.

If you are a tennis player/cyclist/all day tournament you will need to eat some solid foods.

DO NOT eat bananas, they are too high in potassium.

DO NOT eat these off the shelf sports bars.They are a mixture of carbs and proteins and refined sugars/glucose. Too much for the digestive system to manage while the body and mind are in 'competing' mode.

You might prepare small squares of spelt bread with honey before hand (if you are gluten intolerant then cornbread is a good alternative).


You've just had a high end training session/match/meet/game, you want your body to recover to its maximium potential. You've just put a huge ammont of effort and dedication into your session and now is the time to maximize that commitment.

Immediately After Your Intense Exercise


When you finish your competition then WATER...WATER..WATER.. Don't gulp this down but drink it steadily for 30 minutes while you warm down.

When you have been exercising, most of your blood is in your muscle tissue, skin (heat loss) and in your brain. Your cardiovascular/hormonal (adrenals) systems need time to settledown and move gently into the recovery phase (nor-adrenaline), so don't go eating a load of food straight away.

1/2 An Hour To An Hour After Intense Exercise

Over the next 30 minutes or so you can drink 2/3rds water 1/3rd pressed apple or grape juice with a pinch of salt or 1/2 capsule of magnesium citrate. 

NONE of these fizzy drinks that are full of E-numbers and additives, preservatives glucose/dextrose... Honour your body!!

1 Hour After Intense Exercise

By this time you've warmed down, showered and are feeling more relaxed as the recovery hormone nor-adrenaline kicks in.

When you feel ready, around now is the time to have a quality protein drink mixed with  pressed apple or grape juice. The protein drink needs to be brown rice proteins and natural flavours. Thats all!!! No other ingredients like digestive enzymes, additives, aspartamate or creatine... the list goes on and its quite shocking what the mainstream manufacturers put in, never mind the intensive marketing strategies to get you to buy their product.

If you can tolerate dairy then there are some products that contain whey and that's fine.

At this stage your body is hydrating and getting healthy fruit sugars and the appropriate amino acids to replenish and repair itself.

If you take nutritional supplements now is the time, or you can take them with your meal. (Sports nutrition is a vast subject, so I shall do another post about it. It also needs to be taylor made to your unique needs and sport which is something I do with my clients).

As a general rule I'm uncomfortable with creatine as everyone I've tested reacts in a negative way to it. 

Juice in your juicer    2 celery sticks
                                  2 apples
                                  2 medium carrots
                                  2 oranges
                                  fresh ginger ( about the size of a golf ball)
                                  1/2 teaspoon of Turmuric.

1 - 1/2 Hours After Intense Exercise

Now is the time to have a PROTEIN meal. I know it goes against commonly held beliefs that you need carbs but in the short term there is enough sugars in your fruit drink, soup, veggie drink and vegetables. Its now 1 to 1 1/2 to 2 hours after your competition. You know your body best so when to start eating solid foods is up to you but certainly not before an hour after you finished competing. For me personally its nearer the 1 1/2 hour mark.

Soups are great at this time but no bread with it. 

Any one meat you like with as much of the veggies of your choice.

If you wanted you could have a glass of wine occasionally.

You could also have some goats cheese with an apple or pear.

Or mixed fruit

2-3 Hours After Intense Exercise

Now is the time to rest and recover, to allow the food to digest and the body to assimilate all the vital nutrition. Develop the skill of 'cat napping' to aid recovery and to release human growth hormone.

The key to full repair and regeneration of the musculo-skeletal system is to maximise your protein digestion in the stomach to long and short chain amino acids - then they will go to make up EVERY enzyme system in the body and to make new muscle tissue/ligament tissue/joint/tendon/vertebral disc tissue.

The sugars in the fruit juice and vegatables will help restore carb stores short term but the bulk of this will be replenished by your carb meal.

3 1/2 Hours After your protein meal.

Three and half hours later you can have a carb meal, for example:
                    soup with garlic bread 
                    wholegrain spelt pasta with a veggie sauce
                    potatoes with bean stew
                    veggie curry with rice 

Pudding could be:

                             carrot cake
                             polenta cake
                             cornbread with honey
                             pancakes etc.

You can eat as much as you like as your body is now at  maximium rate of re-building muscle/liver glycogen and fat stores. Keep to natural sugars from grains and fruit as much as possible and keep away from white refined sugar.

A small beer occasionally goes with a carb meal (not before a competition though, alcohol takes 18 hours to leave the body).

1 Day After Intense Exercise

On arising the day after drink a glass of water followed by your blended juice. Breakfast would be a carb meal but no fruit juice, for example:

                      pancakes and honey/maple syrup.
                      porridge with and honey
                      meusli with a little goats milk (goats milk is far easier to digest than dairy)
                      toast and honey
                      cornbread with honey

Manuka honey is best

Breakfast would be 3 hours before the next session.

If you have any questions about the protocol I've laid out here, please feel free to ask them, either in the comments here or by email (

All the best in your sporting endeavours.


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