How much sports nutrition do you need? The answer is less than you think
In the traditional world of sports nutrition, standard dogma can easily be summed up as 'more is better'. You have to take energy gels before you even start a race, and should train to maximise carb intake throughout. Plus you need a lot of protein and must religiously periodise a heavy intake perfectly to stack it all in.
We're here to tell you today that this is b*llocks.
It's little more than a barrel of self-serving load of hokum served up by an outdated industry that's far more concerned with its own gain than athletes' performance, health and wellbeing.
Truth is, you need a lot less sports nutrition than you've been lead to believe.
When it comes to sports nutrition for real performance, less is more
Energy gels: the problem
You do not need to take energy gels before an event. Doing so will actively impair your performance, in two ways:
- You might feel a bit sick
- You will switch off your body's natural ability to burn fat before you have even started
The former isn't fun, the latter is a performance killer.
By pouring in a high-sugar dose of carbs at a standstill, your body automatically sees carbs as its prime fuel source and will flick the switch to prioritise using them over stored body fat. As your carb stores will only last two hours max, your only salvation to hit your targets and the finish line is going to be chowing down a lot more carbs to keep going.
Which is why most energy gel consumption recommendations sound something like: 'take no more than 3-4 per hour during exercise'.
This would be funny if it wasn't the second worst piece of advice in sports nutrition after 'take a gel before you start racing'.
But if you've followed that first piece of advice and have now switched off your abilities to burn stored body fat, you actually have no choice. And the more carbs you pour in, the more you will need.
It's a downward spiral which sees you getting slower and sicker, as sports nutrition companies laugh their merry way to the bank and explain away your problems with the third worst piece of advice in sports nutrition: 'train your stomach'. Seriously, if a product makes your performance suck, shoving even more down will only ever make things worse.
How to beat it:
- Never take a gel before a race or training session
- Train your body to fuel from stored fat via simple dietary and training changes to boost performance and reduce the amount of nutrition you need for any race or session. This post here explains all
- Avoid energy gels containing cheap processed sugars like maltodextrin, fructose and/or rice syrup. Designed specifically to maintain carb stores without upsetting fat burning abilities, our Chia Energy Gels are a great option.
Ditch the pre-race energy gels and escape into some real speed
Protein: the problem
As athletes we are regularly scared into believing we aren't getting enough protein. Funnily enough, this messaging comes from protein companies. Amazing indeed. Truth is, in the developed world, protein deficiency doesn't exist.
Take the UK where the average women is already consuming 74 grams of protein a day while the average man is hitting 90 grams.
This is already near DOUBLE recommended daily amounts. And these are only average folks, not athletes focusing on nutrition and protein intake.
While athletes' protein needs are higher, this still only means one gram of protein per kilo of bodyweight. As the figures above show, even average guys and girls are already hitting this.
How to beat it:
- Eat a great diet and cover your protein needs without even thinking about it
- When using protein powders for convenience, focus on quality not quantity. Ingredients and source are everything
- Avoid protein bars, they're just overpriced sweets. Adding low grade protein to a chocolate bar didn't suddenly make it a health food. It just made what could have been a tasty piece of chocolate taste a bit crap
Conclusion: it's all about quality, not quantity
With a decent diet on your side, the amount of sports nutrition products you need for optimum performance is barely half that any other sports nutrition company would recommend. Congratulations, you have just saved a packet.
Instead the key for unlocking your greatest gains lies in quality.
Focus here pays huge dividends as your body builds its speed, power and efficiency naturally while being refueled and rebuilt on the strongest foundations. Keep repeating this cycle and your results will only compound as the true extent of the rewards available from your training are revealed.
At 33Fuel we believed a great, nutrient-dense and whole foods-focused diet is the cornerstone of all performance. This will cover all of your needs much of the time.
When you then need to raise your game, whether it's to fuel those big blocks of training leading to your main event, or to fuel your big race and subsequent recovery, this is where we recommend you add our Chia Energy Gels and Pre and Post Workout Shakes to take you from great to simply bloody awesome.
Just like everything that matters in life, it's all about the quality.
Eat a great diet, then turn it up to 11 when it really matters most
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