It’s important for you to eat healthy and eat at the right times because 70% of what you do within dragonboating is about your diet. Today I’m going to explain in detail about the different types of nutrients within foods that you need to be aware of. These are the build blocks to eating right and having a fit body for dragonboating.
Macronutrients are the food substances that fuel and repair our body. They are made up of carbohydrates, protein and fat. It is only when these macronutrients are in the correct ratios that a person can have a lean, heathy body, irrespective of their total calorie intake. The macronutrient profile, when combined with food timing, is an excellent way to burn both fat and strengthen your muscles for dragonboating.
Carbohydrates (carbs) can be broken into two broad categories, simple and complex. Simple carbs include fructose (fruit sugar), lactose (diary sugar), sucrose (white sugar), maltose (malt sugar) and glucose (blood sugar).
Some experts argue that because fructose (fruit sugar) is ‘healthier’ than sucrose (white sugar) large amounts of fruit should be eaten regularly. Although fruit is definitely a healthy food loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, phytochemicals and fibre, eating a large percentage of your carbohydrates from fructose is not sufficient to help you build lean muscle and strength.
Lactose (diary sugar) is a naturally occurring simple sugar you can eat in moderation if you tolerate it well; however a lot of people do NOT. Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest diary products. There are a lot of people who don’t have the enzyme to digest lactose and therefore get gas, bloating, water retention, abdominal cramps and diarrhea when they eat diary products. Diary products should not be used as your primary source of protein or carbohydrates.
Diary products contain simple carbohydrates and all simple carbohydrates should be minimised in your diet. Whereas complex carbohydrates include both starchy and fibrous carbs. It is the fibrous carbs (vegetables) you should include in your diet more frequently. Also starchy carbs are often slow release (low GI) and they contain too many grams of carbohydrates and these you should also minimise.
All animal proteins (fish, meat, poultry and eggs) are ‘complete’, which means they contain all the necessary amino acids. If you are a vegetarian, your diet would combine different plan products (rice and beans) to include all the essential amino acids.
Fats play a vital role in many processes including primary energy reserves, membrane constituents, hormones, fat-soluble vitamins, thermal insulators and biological regulators. For these reasons, fats are absolutely essential in your diet. Most vegetable fats are ‘good fats’, while most animal fats are ‘bad fats’. Trans fats are the main problem and must be avoided.
Many food companies use trans fats to make their food more appealing. Some examples of these foods include cakes, pastries and biscuits which give it a more solid consistency, and to prolong shelf life. Trans fats are also found in vegetable shortenings, some margarines, crackers, and snack foods. Like saturated fat, trans fats are bad for the heart.
Try to avoid products that have partially hydrogenated oil listed on the ingredients list and also avoid foods that have high trans fat content e.g. deep fried fast foods and takeaways, cakes, pies and packaged biscuits.
Just like protein, carbs and fat, alcohol is a macronutrient. Whilst training for dragonboating try to minimise the amount of alcohol intake and keep in mind that there are 7 calories in a gram of alcohol. As it is a toxin it is the first fuel to be used during your recovery process and that way you are not getting the proper nutrients into your blood stream if you have alcohol too often.
As you may have realised by now, nutrition plays a huge role in dragonboating. Though, the above nutrition can be applied to any other sport. What is crucial is understanding how it works and then tracking what you are feeding your body. Next week I will be continuing on how to choose the right foods to plan for a good diet.