There are so many factors that go into determining what food is ideal for your body. Today I will be giving a broad scope of the types of foods to focus on eating, which will give you a better understanding of what is good for you. Remember the same goes for this diet, eating and timing your food intake every 2-3 hours is critial, giving you an average of 6 meals a day.
Understanding the diet for Dragonboating
A Dragonboater’s diet is very similar to that of your average adolescent, with one critical exception: carbohydrates. Paddlers need more carbohydrates. The energy a paddler uses primarily comes from carbohydrate stored in the muscles as glycogen. The carbohydrate level in the muscle must be restored before the next practice in order for the paddler to “recover” and be ready to work hard again. If the levels are not restored, the paddler remains fatigued and training is not effective. If the problem persists, they will not be able to race well.
Many coaches and leading nutritionist suggest that calories be split so that 65% comes from carbohydrates, 15% from fats, and 20% from proteins, reflecting the greater carbohydrate needs.
As nutrition is very important for supporting muscular development during training, supplements such as mult-vitamins are crucial and I would recommend taking a daily dosage to aid in a faster recovery.
What to eat?
Carbohydrates are the most important energy source for a paddler. They help maintain blood glucose levels and replace muscle glycogen that has been used for energy. Carbohydrates are also the only nutrient that the brain can use. Paddlers should aim to have 6-10 grams per kilogram of body weight (3-4.5 grams per pound) of carbohydrates each day. To put this into perspective:
* A serving of fruit, grain, or milk and alternatives contains about 15 g of carbohydrates.
* A serving of legumes (¾ cup) contains about 20 g of carbohydrates.
* Vegetables contain varying amounts of carbohydrates, from 5 g in a cup of lettuce to 15 g in ½ cup of corn.
Proteins are the body’s “building blocks”, helping to rebuild muscle after intense exercise. Paddlers do have higher protein needs than the average person (1.2-2 grams per kilogram vs. 0.8-1 grams per kilogram body weight) and therefore need to incorporate protein supplements to help with muscle growth.
Assuming that a paddler needs 1.5 grams per kilogram protein a day, a 60kg paddler would be able to meet his/her needs just by having two eggs, a glass of milk and toast for breakfast, a wrap or sandwich with meat, cheese, and veggies for lunch, an afternoon snack of yogurt with granola and a balanced dinner with a little bit of meat, starch and a good portion of vegetables. Breaking this down:
* A serving of meat and alternatives contains about 15 – 20 g of protein.
* A serving of milk and alternatives contains about 8 g of protein.
* Grain products and vegetables provide a little bit of protein as well.
In order to get the most out of your protein intake, you should take small amounts of protein, like an egg or a glass of milk, every two to three hours to help the body convert it to amino acids and build muscle.
Because it provides over double the calories per gram compared to carbohydrates and protein, fat has gotten a bad rap in the past and has been the nutrient to eliminate in many diets. However, aside from providing energy, fat intake is necessary for the body to get the essential fats that it can’t produce itself. It also helps the body absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
For a person who eats 2,000 calories a day, 400-500 of those calories should come from fat, which would be about 45-55 g. Choose sources of unsaturated fats like canola oil, olive oil, avocado, fish and nuts and seeds to prevent inflammation from high-intensity exercise and maintain heart health. In terms of food:
* All oils are 100% fat, and every millilitre weighs about a gram. Thus, a teaspoon of oil would contain about 5 g of fat.
* Nuts and seeds contain about 20 g of fat per Food Guide serving of ¼ cup. Although they’re a great snack, you definitely should watch the portion!
* An avocado contains about 30 g of fat.
* Most of your fat will probably come from the milk and alternatives and meat and alternatives groups. Choose leaner sources of these food groups to avoid overdoing your fat intake, especially saturated fat.
Water or replacement fluid
Although water doesn’t provide any energy, hydration is just as—if not more—important than maintaining a balanced diet. Any degree of dehydration can hurt an paddler’s performance. A good schedule for fluid intake is:
* 400-600 mL (1½-2½ cups) two hours before exercise.
* 150-350 mL (¾-1¼ cup) every 15-20 minutes during exercise.
* 450-675 mL (2-3 cups) after exercise for every pound lost during a workout.
Water should be perfectly fine unless you’re performing intense activity for over an hour or exercising in very hot/humid conditions where sweat loss is increased. At that point, you need to be more careful of fluid and electrolyte losses through sweat and depletion of muscle glycogen. Therefore, you should drink a quality sports drink containing sodium, potassium, and small amounts of carbohydrate during your workout in those situations.
As you can see, the importance of eating the right foods will not only enhance your performance for dragonboating, but will also make you stronger, more energetic and increase your longevity of life.