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  • Tim Goodman

Eat to Perform

Updated: Jan 27

How eating well can help weekend warriors to improve their performance


We’ve all got a day job to do and let’s face it we probably don’t have as much time to train and exercise as we did in our younger days. Perhaps you’re no longer ‘getting away with it’ now you’re not as active and your performance on game day is suffering.

As a fellow ‘weekend warrior’ I work hard in the week and want to maximise the time I spend on the pitch, perform to the best of my ability and not feel like I’ve been hit by a bus when I get back to my desk on Monday morning!


What do I mean by a ‘Weekend Warrior’?

You have a day job but you still like to compete in your chosen sport or physical activity at the weekend.

  • Team sports like rugby, cricket, football, hockey, basketball, lacrosse etc.

  • Endurance sports like road cycling, running, cross country, mountain biking

  • Crossfit, Powerlifting, Weightlifting, Obstacle course races, Snow sports

I could go on but you get the gist…

You don’t have to succumb to the inevitability of the middle age spread or the stiffness and soreness that we associate with no longer being in the peak of our youth. Nor do you have to accept that you don’t have the energy to improve your 5k time any more.


As we get older we inevitably have less time available due to work and family commitments. Those commitments aren’t likely to be going away any time soon but rather than blaming circumstance and lack of time to train as hard as you used to, perhaps we just need to be a bit smarter and more efficient with the things that we can control.


Maybe it’s time to stop kidding yourself that you could lose a few KG’s if you just exercised a bit more. It’s time to focus on the biggest return in investment you can make.

Lets’s talk about nutrition!


How eating well can help weekend warriors to improve their performance



Power to Weight Ratio:

If you’ve ever done any running or bodyweight exercise with a weighted vest you’ll know what I mean here. You might not be that bothered by carrying a ‘bit of timber’ but it does make everything that bit harder when we are competing. Muscle really contributes to performance but body fat just comes along for the ride.

That’s not to say that a little bit of body fat isn’t a bad thing, if you play a contact sport or you want to perform to your optimum level then it will actually help.


If you’ve settled down with your significant other then you will know that they have stayed with you for pretty much every aspect of you other than your physique.


That doesn’t mean they won’t appreciate those love handles shrinking a little bit though does it?


Sure, exercise burns calories, but probably not as many as you think it does.


If you are busy and want to be more efficient with your time, maybe it's time to take the plunge, focus what you eat and see how much more time efficient that can be...


Joint Strain:

Closely linked to the point above, extra weight leads to extra strain on your joints.


Trimming down a bit may make you a bit less injury prone. Provided you don’t take it too far!


Not Eating Enough:

Not all of you are going to be carrying excess weight but sometimes a long day of competition or a few hours in the road can expend a lot more energy that you expect.


If you under eat you will impact your recovery. Trouble with the stairs on a Monday morning anyone?


If you under eat for a long period of time then you’ll likely rebound by eating a ton of food as your body cries out for the calories it needs to recover.


Recovery:

Getting in ‘the right stuff’ doesn’t have to be that complicated. In fact I like to keep it really simple.


Cover your nutritional bases first by eating fruit, vegetables, protein etc. and then ‘top up’ the rest of my calories with some stuff I enjoy, a cold pint of beer, an ice cream, a burger.


Note: I don’t count calories in any detail these days but that’s the subject of another blog…


Recovering properly is as much about good food as it is about ice baths and stretching. If you’ve got adequate protein to aid muscle repair and enough carbohydrates to replenish the stores you’ve burnt through on game day then you’ll shape up way better the day after game day.


Recovering well becomes even more important if you compete both days of the weekend!

In my own personal experience, trying to play when stiff and sore is a pain in the a** and detracts from the enjoyment of the following day.


Plus if you’re not moving that well when you compete you set yourself up for an injury!


All Day Performance:

If we want to compete for the entire 80/90 minutes or improve that P.B on the road then YES we have to train hard and get the base level of fitness required.


BUT, if we can’t effectively replace our energy stores whilst we compete then we’re going to ‘run out of gas’ or ‘hit the wall’ regardless of how fit we are.


Tip: after every hour of exercise try to have a fast digesting (sugary) carbohydrate like a banana or a full calorie sports drink to replenish the stored glucose in our muscles. We need this glucose to provide quick bouts of energy. Or body can’t convert its fat stores fast enough for sprints or cycling up hills I’m afraid.


If you're into endurance sport then check out my blog on fuelling endurance.


The last thing any of us want is to get to the crucial point of a game or race and be embarrassed because we can no longer keep up!

What does that actually look like in practice?

I've got that covered with another blog on the basics of building a healthy meal.


Have any of the topics in this blog impacted your weekend performance in the past?


Perhaps you have a specific question?


I answer all the comments in my blog, just let me know in the comments below.

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