Winter Nutrition for Paddlers
I recently wrote an article for the Outlaw Paddling monthly newsletter. It looks at winter nutrition for paddlers, however it really pertains to all athletes.
Nutrition Tips to Train Through Winter
Nutrition plays a vital role in staying healthy and energetic during the colder winter months including prevention of illness, warming the system and making sure you are putting the right fuel into the tank.
Below are some tips to keep those winter cold and flus or the winter blues away:
- Eat regular, smaller meals that have a source of protein in each meal – the regular meals, and especially the protein, will keep basal metabolic rate (our internal fire) up and keep insulin levels low so you produce energy more efficiently and don’t put on too much fat. In addition, the presence of protein in each meal, will promote the production of satiety that make you feel fuller for longer.
- Get fuel for energy from fibre and nutrient dense sources of carbohydrates: i.e. fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and some WHOLE grains. In addition, these nutrient dense (and unprocessed) sources of fuel are rich in nutrients including vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which assist with energy production and provide a huge boost to your body’s immunity.
- Many people use cold and flu shots as a preventative over winter. In my opinion, if you focus on good nutrition, you will get better results anyway. As well as have more energy. However, if you find this difficult, then consider the shots as an option.
- Have 1-2 small serves of grain per day and make sure they are WHOLE grains – most wholemeal and multigrain bread is still mostly white flour. When you take the brown bit off flour or rice you remove all of the fibre and most of the nutrients which will impair energy production and function of all cells – including immune system function and recovery from training. So refined carbohydrates are essentially sugar in disguise – or empty calories that don’t give much back in return. They should be avoided!!
- Grains will be 100% whole grain only if it says it is – don’t assume. 100% whole grains options for bread, pasta, cereals etc can be found in health food stores or the health food section of supermarkets.
- Eat plenty of essential fatty acids – from fish, nuts and seeds, avocado, tofu and soy products and some oils (olive oil and many nut and seed oils). These help to increase muscle production and reduce body fat. Plus they are essential in energy production, reduction of inflammation and the function of the immune system.
- Have lots of warming foods to keep you warm and keep the circulation flowing: i.e. warming herbs and condiments (pepper, cayenne, chilli, ginger, garlic, turmeric etc), soups, herbal teas, casseroles etc.
- Whilst caffeine can be helpful during an event, more than one to two coffees per day can make you pay energy wise. It exacerbates fluctuating blood sugar levels (which need to be kept constant to maximise energy production) and is a central nervous system stimulant, so it will drain you over time if you rely on coffee or those evil energy drinks to keep you up.
- Use a good quality supplement(s) based from whole food or plant extracts. Many multivitamin/mineral supplements that are synthetically produced are not readily bio-available to the system so, whilst the label says they are potent in lots of goodies (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants) they also have fillers etc, and you will end up urinating most of these ‘so-called’ goodies out without ever receiving the benefit of them to your system. Most of us have experienced the smelly yellow-orange wee after taking vitamin-mineral supplements. Well, that’s where the money you have spent is going if you don’t get a good quality supplement.
- As our digestive systems evolved over a million or so years by exposure only to whole foods (except for the last 100-200 years or so) these are easily digested and assimilated and you will get full benefit from the nutrients contained in them. Examples of whole food or plant extract supplements would be Juice Plus, Vital Greens, fish oils, herbal extracts such as Siberian Red, Olive Leaf Extract, Echinacea etc.
- My ideal supplement protocols for maximising cellular health, energy production and immune system function is as follows. I developed and followed this protocol over many years since having recovered from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome:
1. Juice Plus – high potency pure fruit and vegetable extracts. They replace the multi-vitamin/mineral supplements. Bioavailability is excellent and research has found that levels of major vitamins and antioxidants increase considerably after having used this for a month or more. See more info on Juice Plus. Users of this report fewer incidents of colds and flus and less fatigue.
2. High potency, high quality fish oils including EPA and DHA: i.e. Metagenics, Bioceuticals or Ethical Nutrients. The oil is better than capsules as it is far more potent – so find one that tastes ok and mix it in with your smoothies or salads. 95% of the Western population is deficient in Omega 3 essential fatty acids.
3. Bioeffective A – an antioxidant and antimicrobial (including antibacterial and antiviral) extract from Russian pine needle species that is also terrific for liver regeneration and support. Great for digestive health and liver health and preventing colds and flus. Available in some health food stores or at Pine Needle Products.
4. Siberian Red – a pure liquid extract (non-alcohol based) from Siberian Fir tree needles. Siberian research found this excellent as an antioxidant and adaptogen (which helps increase the body’s ability to cope with stress produced by training load, winter coldness or psycho-emotional stress) It is great for reducing fatigue and enhancing endurance and stamina. It also a potent source of highly bio-available iron for a plant source.
Available from Pine Needle Products