Do one-percenters really work in nutrition? Ask the sports dietitian…

Spend some time around athletes and you’ll soon realise we talk about nutrition… a lot.  Of course, everyone uses something different, everyone has the ‘one thing’ that they swear by which makes all the difference to their race day.  And while we should all be striving to create a targeted and personalised training and race day plan which includes products that will safely enhance your performance, using them too early in your career or race prep can be at best a waste of time, and at worst detrimental to your overall performance.

To find out how important the little details really are and what we should be aiming for in our race prep, we talked to Simone Allen, Advanced Sports Dietitian, Director of Nutrition Works (and Ironman triathlete!) to find out… do the one percenters really work?

1.  The one percenters are great… but the basics are best.

The fine-tuning of nutrition can make all the difference between a good performance and a stand out performance on race day.  But all too often we see athletes focussing on the finer elements of nutrition early on in a training program, without getting the basics right first.  Start out by focussing on every-day nutrition and building a solid base – getting enough calcium, carbs and protein; and fuelling right before, during and after training sessions.  It’s simple, it’s not very exciting… but it’s very often overlooked by athletes looking for a quick fix to get to the front of the pack on race day.

2. Once the basics are on track, only then create the race day plan

After months of solid every-day nutrition and practicing fuelling your training sessions, you will begin to see what works for you. Now is the time to nail the race day (or big training day) nutrition which includes carb-loading the day before, your pre-race meal and of course hydration.  Just as important are your carbs and electrolytes during the race and then your personalised recovery strategy.

3. Finally, add in your 1 percenters

When you have built a base of nutrition you can reliably perform, because you have consistent available energy, a regular recovery strategy and you know exactly what suits you and your digestive system.  Now is the time to add in the one percenters like caffeine, beta-alanine, beetroot juice and cherry juice etc for optimum performance. But always remember that these added extras won’t do anything to boost performance if there aren’t adequate carbs on board, or if you start out your training session or race day already dehydrated.  Skipping the basics will always be a recipe for a race day bonk or worse still the medical tent.

It helps to look at nutrition in a similar way to a good training plan… start by building a base, add some strength and top it off with some speed.  If you are ready to up your nutrition game, at Bindi through years of experience helping athletes, we can guide you to build your solid base through a Nutrition Strategy Session – click here to discover more about our one-on-one sessions today.

Happy training!

Belinda x