Some tips for Winter nutrition, courtesy of Etixx.
Improper fuelling during and after winter training can have an impact on your general health. Immune suppression has been noted in the two-hour period immediately following prolonged and/or intense training due to elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol and a corresponding drop in lymphocyte production and T-cell activity.
Consuming carbohydrates during and immediately after training helps reduce cortisol levels and maintain lymphocyte production, thereby helping prevent infections.
How to maximise recovery
Ensuring you eat a meal containing sufficient protein and carbohydrate after a long ride will help you to refuel and recover. However, fats are also important, including 2-3 portions a day of essential fats such as those found in avocado, nuts and oily fish can help reduce inflammation and aid recovery and will also provide a source of fuel for long, steady rides.
Importance of hydration
Cold weather can reduce thirst, meaning you might not be hydrating adequately to support your training. This can in turn compromise your immunity and leave you susceptible to winter colds. If out on the bike try mixing up a carbohydrate/ electrolyte drink like the Etixx Isotonic Powder or Energy Load with hot water before you head out, wrapping your bottle in a sock or insulating sleeve to keep the heat in.
A hot sports drink in cold weather prevents you getting brain freeze with every sip and will encourage you to drink more, keeping you fuelled and hydrated at the same time.
As well as upping your consumption of healthy fats, eating oily fish such as tinned sardines can increase your winter levels of Vitamin D- an immune boosting vitamin your body synthesises during summer sun exposure. Other minerals which are important to boost energy and immunity include B vitamins, Magnesium and Vitamin C. Eating a varied diet full of fruit, vegetables, nuts and whole grains will help keep these micronutrients in balance.
Sleep also plays a big role in recovery and health. A pre-bed snack like a warm drink (try a Etixx Chocolate Recovery Shake mixed with hot milk/water) can top up energy levels on tough training days and improve sleep quality. Using a magnesium soak or supplement before bed like Etixx Magnesium Absorption Plus can also help to reduce symptoms of twitchy or achy legs after long sessions, enhancing sleep quality and keeping you well rested throughout the winter months.
If the weather gets really bad, early morning turbo or treadmill sessions can be your only option. Get the biggest physiological benefit from lower or medium intensity run or rides by avoiding carbohydrates before you train. This trains the body to tap into fat stores for fuel, meaning you save muscle glycogen for more intense bursts of activity and helping you to stay trim during the winter months.
If you need to take something before such sessions perhaps eat some protein (e.g. a poached egg) to stave off hunger and protect muscle mass or use caffeine to make sure you’re awake and ready to go. If a pre-session coffee leaves you thirsty or worse causes GI issues, try a supplement like Etixx Energy Release which contains natural caffeine from guarana and green coffee as well as vitamin B2, vitamin C & magnesium help the body produce energy.
Glenn Kearney is the head sports nutritionist at Etixx UK and has previously worked with UK Athletics. For more information, for more information on Etixx sports nutrition, please visit: www.etixxsports.com