This Race Season, Beat the “Bonk” with Science-backed Sports Nutrition
Lauren Mitchell, MS, RD, CSSD provides nutritional consultations at Aspen Valley Hospital. Here she answers some of the most frequent questions she receives from athletes of all ages and levels.
I want a competitive edge with my training?
If you want to learn how to fuel your competitions, various training phases, and day-to-day life, consider working with a Registered Dietitian (RD) who is a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD).
What can working with a CSSD do for me?
Every Olympic, collegiate and professional sports team has a CSSD on staff to work with each individual team member to provide performance-enhancing nutritional coaching. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to optimizing individual performance. Training and nutrition are based on the individual’s specific nutrient needs and performance-based goals. A sprinter will have different nutritional needs than a marathoner. A Power of Four racer will have different fueling needs than a hockey player.
I keep “bonking” during a race or feel a lack of energy during my training, what can I do?
Having the confidence of a race-plan that works for you can help enhance your performance, decrease bonking and GI distress that often occurs with athletes. For optimal results and to have the most effective nutrition plan, I recommend meeting prior to starting your training program, 1-2 months into your training program and 1 month prior to your race or competition day. Every athlete has individual nutritional needs at different times throughout their training. A CSSD can create a science-backed plan so you can know how to fuel the right way for your specific needs and health.
What is a race-day nutrition plan?
A race-nutrition plan is learning how to fuel yourself for your performance and health goals. How we eat during training can help create metabolic advantages to enhance our training, sustain our activity levels, improve recovery and ultimately enhance our performance. A race-nutrition plan takes into account your health and performance goals, macronutrient and micronutrient needs, hydration and lifestyle to create an individualized approach to better your health and performance. Often athletes can feel “bonking” or a depletion in glycogen stores during a race and/or experience GI issues which can dramatically effect performance. Having a personalized race-plan can decrease the “bonking” and give you the confidence to compete without worrying about any GI issues.
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When should nutrition coaching start?
Remember, race-day nutrition does not start the morning of your race. Your individualized nutrition plan to optimize your performance should be practiced and periodized months throughout your training program just as your training has various phases and cycles.
What are the essential elements of sports nutrition?
- Nutritional needs assessment including your total calorie needs, hydration, macronutrient and micronutrient needs.
- When you meet with me, your total fueling needs will be assessed based on your energy expenditure, activity and individualized nutrient needs. For proper performance, sufficient calorie intake, macronutrient timing and hydration must be considered when creating a personalized nutrition program.
- Recovery improvement emphasis to promote high-quality exercise and training sessions with individualized nutrient-timing.
- Proper recovery is essential to optimal performance and improving day-to-day health. I can help you ensure proper macro-nutrient timing to accelerate your recovery. Often, when nutrition is insufficient this can lead to “overreaching” and “over-training” which can have decremental effects on performance.
- Nutrition assessment for improving daily eating habits for weight and energy management.
- If you are wanting to know how to fuel yourself for optimal health, having a detailed look at your nutritional intake can help you reach your goals for weight management and/or body composition change. I can help you by taking a comprehensive look at your nutritional habits to optimize your daily health.
- Your fueling and hydration needs should be tailored to the specific training cycle you are in for a periodized nutrition program. This can give you an extra edge in your training and on race-day to accelerate your performance. Most athletes make the mistake to only think of their nutritional intake the week of their race or competition and can try new nutrition strategies the morning of a race—which is a big mistake. Learn how to fuel the right way throughout your course of training to enhance your performance!
How do I know it will work for me?
I am an athlete myself; I have used my knowledge of sports nutrition to fuel my own performance goals. I am a 6-time Boston Marathon qualifier, an ultra-marathoner and recently ran the Leadville Silver Rush 50-mile race and the Crested Butte Ultra. But that is not where I started!
I’m not an ultra athlete but I want to perform better?
I have worked with individuals of all ages and understand the various nutrient needs to create a road towards optimal performance through nutritional intake using evidenced-based, scientific practices. Living here in the Roaring Fork Valley makes an athlete out of everyone, and there is always an opportunity to elevate your enjoyment by increasing your performance. You may have a goal to hike from Aspen to Crested Butte, or to keep up with your kids on the slopes and not know where to start, or you may feel you have hit a wall or that it is too late to run a marathon. With the right nutrition coaching and there is always new, optimal you!
Lauren Mitchell MS, RD, CSSD
Registered Dietitian, Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics
Let’s Get Started Together!