Eat for better sport

Most of the advice we get about what to eat is either well-meaning ‘one-size-fits-all’ generalities or advertising aiming to make us buy products.  As an international archer I received advice some years ago from a nutritionist that came under the first category.  Unfortunately eating in the way that is currently fashionable as healthy was not right for my body chemistry and I ended up overweight with a whole load of other problems.

I’ve just won the British Field Archery Championships for the 6th time.  At the age of 47 and with a 7 year gap since my last British title, I’m delighted.

(Picture courtesy of The Whitehaven News)

My good shooting this year (including a lifetime best score indoors) is the result of a combination of factors.  Using my record charts (described in my book Succeed in Sport, train-learn-adapt-improve), I made a change to my weight training pattern.  I also reviewed my performance profile, prioritised and following a great day with Lanny Bassham at Bisley, made some tweaks to my mental approach . And I benefitted from a reduction of work related stress.

I believe that eating right was another key factor.  Field archery competitions last for two whole days.  Many foods loved by sports people (chewy bars and artificial drinks) provide a swift energy hit followed by slumps, hunger, headaches, mood changes and weight gain.  Other foods (like sandwiches) take a lot of energy to process and leave you sluggish in the afternoon.  I wanted food that would digest itself and give me the nutrients I wanted to keep going steadily for many hours.

Among other things, I take fresh coconut, cheese and the magical sprouted beans and seeds.  They’re cheap, easy to grow and bursting with goodness.  Anyone who has been to one of my talks will know how much I love live food and the enzymes they contain.  Foods like this have a high water content; wet food is better at keeping you hydrated than dry food plus drinks.

You might have been put off by the recent E coli outbreak in Europe which was suggested (although not confirmed) to have come from fenugreek, mustard and rocket seeds from Egypt sold via a British company.  The company believes the infection is more likely to be due to how the seeds were used and handled than the seeds themselves.  Here, the Food Standards Agency, as a precaution, is recommending that sprouted seeds are eaten cooked rather than raw. That would kill all the enzymes that you grew them for in the first place.  I leave you to make up your own mind but if you do grow some, make sure you always wash your trays properly between batches so you don’t end up with bacterial contamination.

Sexy Summer Body

The summer is almost upon us (well hopefully soon) and many of you will be taking some time out to go on holiday and relax in the sun. This is the time of year when we suddenly remember that our bodies are important. As we strip off, we realise that everyone can see us!

This is a shared Survival Guide for the Skint and Nutrition Coaching blog post.  I’m passionate about food and health. The great news is that you can save money in your quest for a great bod.

Processed food is laden with additives and chemicals that your body has to work very hard to get rid of (or to store as fat). You pay mainly for all the preparation, packaging and advertising so the ingredients are rarely good quality. Buy real food and make your own meals to save money and improve your health.

Drinks can add up to a sizable percentage of your weekly shop. Fizzy drinks and alcohol cost loads and only do you harm. Fruit juices are better if taken in moderation. I like to dilute juices. The cheapest drink of all is water and the good news is that your body enjoys water much more than anything else. It’s even better if you filter it; jug filters work fine and are inexpensive.

The cheapest exercise is walking – guess what? Yes, it really is great for your body. It’s low impact so it’s kind to your joints. You can go when you want, for as long as you want and you put in the amount of effort to match your ability. Getting fresh air and sunshine is good for your lungs and skin. Good mental health goes hand in hand with good physical health. Being close to nature is good for you mentally (there are studies proving it’s good for you to be among trees). Walking is a pleasurable experience too. I’ve noticed that runners often look harassed or miserable but people on walks smile and say, ‘hello’.  You’re more likely to exercise if you find something that you really enjoy.

So eat, drink and exercise merrily, 

for tomorrow you don your swimwear!

Wishing you well