High Energy Eating - It's Not What You Might Think
If you want to get the most out of your time on the water, it is really important to think about how you are fuelling your body! Windsurfers tend not to think like sportspeople when it comes to pre, during and post-session nutrition. Even at the top level I am often surprised to see what people are eating and drinking! They may get away with it, but that is not to say that we should all follow suit - I often wonder how much more some of the pros could be doing if they got their nutrition right too.
It's an easy mistake to think that in order to boost energy we should have some kind of high carb, high sugar food. But this is the last thing we actually need when we need to increase our energy levels! Eating highly processed and sugar-heavy foods do give an initial surge of sugar, but then follows the inevitable 'crash', which results in energy levels dropping and performance falling. Instead, we need to focus on eating foods that will deliver a sustained release of energy.
It is always worth thinking of food in terms of nutrition and nourishment, rather than simply energy. We all have a decent stash of energy in our bodies - and in fact, if we can begin to access our stored body fat when we are out on the water, we are in a win-win situation, as we can be burning bodyfat at the same time as having a great session! Excess bodyfat is not useful to windsurfers - we want to be lean and light so we can get planing sooner, as well as looking better in an unflattering wetsuit, of course!
Sugar and white or refined carbs (bread, cakes, biscuits - the foods many windsurfers' vans are bursting with) rob our bodies of essential nutrients - taking more vitamins and minerals out of our bodies to process than they provide! Thinking purely in energy terms is a mistake - our bodies need more than purely calories to function effectively, let alone optimally. We need the nutrients that come from fruits, vegetables and protein in order to function and use the energy in our food. We are actually living in a world where many people are under-nourished despite being overweight due to a caloric excess. There is more to food than just calories and energy!
Sugar & refined, processed foods lead to weight gain, low energy levels, low mood, and even accelerated aging. In the long term, we want to be eating the foods that will help us be lean, fit and able to stay as such for many years to come - thinking in the long term, your day-to-day nutrition will have a huge impact on your sailing, and your life, for many years to come!
The basis of any meal should be fruits and vegetables, along with a decent portion of protein and some good fats. If you then need a higher dose of starchy carbohydrates then they are the last part to be added, according to your need and you activity level. In fact, most people can get plenty of carbohydrate, and the healthier kind that contains lots of other good stuff too, from fruits and vegetables. Include fruit & starchier vegetables (such as butternut squash) & pulses if you plan to be more active. The best sources for your starches are sweeter fruits, sweet potatoes, oats, quinoa, brown rice, pulses & unrefined breads (sourdough rye is a top choice - most people do better without wheat).
Some great meal options (these can be eaten before, during or after windsurfing!):
30g jumbo (not quick cook) oats made into porridge with water, with some vanilla whey or rice protein stirred into it after cooking, served with sliced banana, apple or berries and some chopped nuts / seeds. If you don't want to use protein powder have the porridge and a boiled egg or two.
A slice of sourdough rye with a little organic butter and 2-3 organic scrambled eggs, served with sliced tomatoes, spinach and mushrooms.
A vegetable omelette or frittata, and a mixed fruit salad.
A protein shake made with rice (www.sunwarrior.co.uk) or whey protein powder, 50ml light coconut milk, water, a frozen banana and some berries.
A big salad, made with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, leftover roast vegetables such as courgettes, peppers, aubergine, butternut squash or sweet potato (or some quinoa or brown rice), and some chicken, fish or beef.
Leftovers from the night before, such as chilli or a chicken stir-fry, served with some extra salad / vegetables, and some quinoa or brown rice.
You would ideally eat something about 30-60 minutes before getting out on the water, to give your body the chance to digest your food before going out - a harness is not the best digestive aid! As the wind rarely works how we want it to, you may find that you had a good breakfast then don't actually get out on the water for a few hours, in which case it is worth having a small snack to hand.
The best quick snack option for sustained energy or refuelling after a session is fruit and nuts - make sure you get raw, unsalted nuts like almonds, brazils or walnuts. Try slicing an apple (or a banana) and smearing almond butter on it - delicious. You can also use peanut butter, but make sure you get a good quality peanut butter that has no added sugar or vegetable oil (from health food shops, the Merdian brand is the best). Vegetable sticks and houmous is another good option. You really do want to avoid the sugary snacks and white, refined, processed carbs!
There are some really good, all natural bars available now, too. Veggie Juice in a Bar from www.juicemaster.com is great, as are Nakd bars, made from either just fruit and nuts, or fruit, nuts and oats. Most supposed health bars out there are nothing of the sort, so steer clear! Check the label and if it is full or artificial ingredients and sugar then it is not fit for consumption!
If you want something more chocolatey, then you can get raw cacao based chocolate now, that is not sweetened with sugar and is actually good for you! You can get some great raw cacao bars from http://www.rawliving.eu and some incredible raw chocolate 'pie' from: https://www.livingfood.co.uk. These are made without any sugar, but have all the indulgent bliss you might be after from chocolate. Raw cacao contains more of the beneficial properties than regular chocolate, even dark chocolate, without any of the added nasties. If you can't get raw cacao bars, then the next best bet is some 85% dark chocolate. This can give you a good boost of energy, with only a very small amount of sugar. Combine a couple of squares with a handful of nuts and some fruit for a more balanced snack.
It is important to be well hydrated, too. So make sure you drink plenty of fluid throughout the day before you go out. If you do pop back to the beach then always have some water, it is worth popping back to the beach every 45 - 60 minutes to rehydrate.
Another big mistake people make is to rely on energy drinks. We do not need to be running on energy drinks! If you follow the nutrition advice you will have plenty of sustained energy without needing to drink artificial stimulants that actually wear your adrenals down and increase your stress hormone, cortisol. If you are drinking water but don't feel it is quenching your thirst, this is because you actually need electrolytes, as you have lost them through sweat. You don't need an energy drink for this though, either! All you need to do is prepare a bottle of water, add some freshly squeezed orange juice and a pinch of unrefined, Celtic or Himalayan sea salt. This is not the same as regular sea salt, and you will probably need to get this from a health food shop or online, but the important thing to remember is that the salt must not be white! That means it has been bleached and means the minerals you are after are not present. Celtic sea salt is grey and the Himalayan salt can be grey or pink. These salts contain other minerals, not just sodium chloride, and are actually beneficial.
Another great rehydration option, that you can buy ready to drink, is coconut water. You can get this from health food shops and online, and it is getting increasingly popular so I'm sure more supermarkets are now stocking it. This has the same amount of potassium as 2 bananas. It is best really cold, and is fab on a hot day! Even if you are on the south coast of England, you will be transported to a tropical island for a moment or two!
So, the take-home message is get rid of the processed and refined foods and focus on natural, nutrient-dense foods. Pack your food for the day, use a good cool bag with some long-lasting ice packs (Techni-ice is great - it actually stays cold for up to 48 hours, rather than melting immediately like regular cool blocks: http://www.chillerz.com/) and take your lunch and some snacks, so you don't end up grabbing some biscuits or a soggy sandwich on the way. Take plenty of water, and if it's cold take a flask of hot water - some green tea or rooibos tea is a great way to warm up and rehydrate at the same time, in colder weather.
Think like a sportsperson, and remember that what you put in affects what you will get out - the better the fuel, the better the performance and the more you will get out of your time on the water!
Written By: Caroline Radway
Date of birth: 01/11/78
Years windsurfing: 13 - eek that makes me feel old and a very slow learner!
Windsurf Level: Wavesailing mostly, or the nearest I can get to it locally when we can't travel west! Still learning to forward - this is the year for sure!
Current location: Southampton
Local windsurf spot: Avon / Witterings, and Cornwall as much as poss!
Caroline runs a fitness coaching business that delivers Personal and Group Training to the people of Southampton who want to get fitter, slimmer and feeling fantastic! She is the creator of the revolutionary Fit Body Fix Bootcamps http://www.fitbodyfix.com, that deliver a total transformation solution to busy people in need of efficient and effective fat loss and fitness conditioning, as well as nutritional coaching, goal getting and more.
Caroline gets all her windsurfing equipment from the lovely Bob at www.4boards.co.uk, whatever you are looking for, Bob can provide it, so check out the website or give him a call!
If you have any questions for Caroline on fitness, nutrition, yoga or windsurfing related topics, then you can contact her by joining the free member site: http://carolineradway.ning.com. It's full of useful fitness and nutrition resources that you can access completely free, as she is passionate about spreading the word on how best to achieve fitness, fat loss and boosted energy levels and vitality in today's fast paced world!