What to eat in the heat.
We asked Sports Dietitian Brooke Schohl to share her tips on how to stay fully fuelled up when you're training and competing in hot conditions. Over to you Brooke...
Thanks guys. As you know, I live in Arizona, where the phrase ‘summer heat’ takes on a whole new meaning! Just ask the Precision Hydration guys, who ran up the local Camelback trail under the 75 degree (25 degrees C) morning sun when they came to visit in February! But even when the temps approach scorching, athletes continue to crank out intense workouts. The show must go on, and so must proper fuelling.
For many athletes training in warm climates, appetite tends to drop off as the mercury rises. It’s important to keep this in mind during the summer months and make adjustments where necessary to keep intake where it needs to be to keep those hot workouts well fuelled. Here are some tips on how to adjust your fuelling strategy for Summer…
Fuel up on seasonal foods.
Produce comes to mind when the term ‘seasonal foods’ are mentioned. And that’s perfect as fruit and vegetables are the two best carbohydrate options in an athlete’s diet. Summer is a great time to take advantage of the wide variety of produce that graces your supermarket’s shelves.
This time of year is also a good time to visit your local farmer’s market to support locally grown food from farmers in the area. Besides the healthy carbohydrate component, fruit and vegetables provide many vitamins and minerals (think antioxidants!) that you just can’t get from other foods. They’re versatile too – cut up a bunch of fruit varieties for a fruit salad, roast vegetables for a veggie/egg casserole, or throw both into a huge green salad that is light on the stomach, but packs a nutritional punch.
Jonny: Remember that fruits and veggies are also fantastic as they contain tons of water which helps with hydration status too. Many fruits and veggies are 80-95% water, which makes them a great slow-release hydration source when you eat them in decent quantities.
Incorporate lighter foods.
Summer is centred on light, fresh foods that fill you up but don’t weigh you down. Try a flaky grilled fish like halibut with some roasted green beans and a mixed greens salad topped with avocado and mango. And remember to eat a balanced diet no matter what season it is – carbohydrate + fat + protein at all meals and snacks. Becoming too reliant on carbohydrates throws your blood sugar levels out of whack and can negatively impact your health, weight and training.
Keep larger meals to one time a day.
It’s ok to pick the time of day when you are most hungry and to make that meal a little larger. Or to break meals down into smaller snack-size portions in order to meet calorie requirements. Sometimes a large, heavy meal is too overwhelming for the system, no matter what season it is! If you wake up ravenous in the mornings, make that meal a little more substantial and follow it up with a lighter lunch and dinner. Make adjustments according to what your body is telling you. If your evening meal is usually your heaviest, make sure to eat early enough that the food has time to settle and begin digestion before heading for the bedroom.
Time recovery fuelling correctly.
Coming back from a long, sweaty outdoor workout can be an exhausting and possibly nauseating event in itself. Now picture yourself consuming a large meal post-workout and you may be ready to toss your cookies! Don’t stress about getting those calories replaced. Keep in mind that you really only need to replace 20% of the total calories burned during exercise, and that this can be accomplished slowly, over the several hours after you’ve exercised.
After long workouts, do attempt to get at least a snack back in within an hour of finishing. This can be anything from a Greek yogurt with fruit, to a protein smoothie with fruit and coconut oil. Again, balance is key here! Don’t feel the need to gorge yourself the minute you walk in the door, especially if you are feeling nauseous.
In the summer months, athletes are generally more active than ever. The combination of great fuelling and exercise is unstoppable when it comes to you meeting your goals. Make this summer season your most productive yet!
Jonny: Thanks Brooke, some great advice there. One thing I’d add is that people often don’t consider the impact that any calories you have in your bottle will have on meeting your needs when you're fuelling up, especially on hot days. As you typically drink more (maybe even 2 or 3x as much) as you do on a cold day, even a modest amount of carbs in your bottle can contribute significantly to your fuelling needs.
And if you’re thinking ‘but H2Pro Hydrate contains no calories’ of course you’d be right…but watch this space for some exciting news that’ll be highly relevant to helping with fuelling as well as hydration! On the flip side, this increased consumption in hot weather is also one reason why traditional (6%) carb-based sports drinks aren’t a good choice in the heat, as that extra volume means you can get an overload of sugar in the gut, which is why people often feel bloated and sick when going hard and drinking highly sugary drinks in the heat.
Brooke Schohl is a Registered Sports Dietitian and the owner of Fuel to the Finish Endurance Nutrition Coaching in Scottsdale, Arizona. She offers customized nutrition plans to endurance athletes of all levels and also offers Precision Hydration’s Advanced Sweat Test. She’s an avid triathlete, having completed many triathlons of all distances including 3 Ironman races. For more info, check out her partner page.