Just because you are out there swimming, riding and running for hours on end, doesn’t mean you have a free ticket to eat whatever you want. I know some of you don’t agree. The truth is; our body still craves and needs healthy whole foods. For some of us over volume exercisers we could end up eating upwards of a 1/3rd of our calories from less than healthy food sources. Whether your sports drink or energy goop has malto-dextrose, glucose, sucrose, crystalline fructose or some other refined and processed sugar; They are simply not much more than soda with electrolytes without the carbonation or cheap 1% maple syrup you used to put on your pancakes. Long before we had powerbar, gatorade, sliced bread or sports jelly beans there were amazing athletes accomplishing outstanding feats while eating fruit, nuts and whatever else they could forage. Yes, there is a place for simple sugars in races or focused training sessions but for the majority of the time we would be better served with water and healthy whole food.
The benefits of healthy whole food eating while exercising go beyond the truth that you will be getting more nutrients and less junk. You will be teaching your body to mobilize fat for energy and not rely so much on quick release sugars to fuel your endurance. With the company of fat and protein or the natural packaging (fiber) in whole foods the release of sugars into your blood stream will slow and allow for a steady source of fuel. This is a great trend that will increase the quality training and maybe even performance in longer races.
On your next training endeavor, enjoy some almond butter blended with honey, figs or some dates, an apple or banana, some nuts with banana chips, a handful of healthy granola, some rice with a bit of scrambled eggs mixed in, sea weed crackers, dehydrated fruit or whatever other healthy snack appeals to you.As I mentioned above their are certainly some race situations like colder or ultra long events that whole foods rival the simple food stuff; However, when the body is running hot and the climate is as equally stifling, simple is usually better. With this in mind make sure you practice/train with the simple and agreeable foods and drinks that you perform best on as the competition nears.