What Should Sprinter's Be Eating?
Think back to when you were a child; the feeling of running at top speed - its euphoric and addictive. The only way you could sort out who was the fastest was an old-fashioned race during break time. As we grow older we look for nutrition and supplements that can help to boost performance. Providing your body with nutrition that is specific to your type of training is crucially important in determining your success as an athlete. If you're past the days of racing your friends during break time and are truly concerned with becoming a true sprinter keep reading.
Sprinting and Energy Demands
There are three main energy systems involved in most physical activity. These are the ATP-PC system, responsible for short burst of high activity (sprinting, jumping, powerlifting), the glycolytic system, responsible for medium duration activity (400m run, HIIT activities) and the Lactic acid system, responsible for long duration, low-intensity exercise. Each energy system draws on specific forms of fuel to power the movement. The system we are most concerned with as a sprinter is the ATP-PC system. This system stands for Adenosine TriPhosphate - Phosphocreatine. This system is strictly responsible for short bursts of high intensity; sprinting, powerlifting, jumping. The question is, what fuels this energy system?
On a fundamental level sprinting is fuelled by three very specific nutrients; glycogen, phosphocreatine and ATP. ATP doesn't really count in our conversation because it is merely a term we use to describe energy - ATP is energy.
What is Glycogen?
Glycogen is a metabolised sugar, usually derived from carbohydrate-based foods such as fruit, vegetables and grains. These carbs are digested and synthesized into glycogen which is then used to power muscular contraction and movement. Without adequate stores of glycogen, you lack power and endurance. Eating a diet that is high in carbohydrates will be crucial to your overall success as a sprinter.
What is Phosphocreatine?
Simply put, phosphocreatine is the combination of phosphates and creatine. Unfortunately, we can't exactly ingest phosphates but we can supplement creatine in our diet. Phosphocreatine helps our body to resynthesize ATP - proving more energy, rapidly. The more stores of phosphates we have in our muscle and working tissue the faster we can sprint without feeling fatigue. If you are a sprinter in the disciples of 100m-800m your diet should consist of 5-7g/day of creatine.
It is important to note that creatine is found in many everyday foods we already consume, such as animal-based proteins. With that in mind, regulating the amount of creatine we get on a daily basis can be crucial to overall success.
Protein and Fats
From the perspective of recovery and hormone regulation, these two macronutrients become important. A diet that is high in protein can help promote muscle protein synthesis - the mechanism in charge of recovery of soft tissue (muscle). Protein, in essence, will not help you to boost performance before or during a race, rather is used in promoting recovery of muscle tissue.
Fats have the smallest role to play in the overall performance of sprinting athletes. A diet that is balanced in fat intake should contain no more than 20% calories sources from fat. Fat is used to help stabilize hormone regulation. Addressing the role of supplements and other nutrients in our diet and their effect on sprinting performance, fat plays a role in the regulation of hormones.
The optimal Macronutrient Split
For optimal performance in endurance running, a macronutrient split of 65% carbohydrates, 20% protein and 15% fat has been suggested.
Moving past what we eat on a daily basis there are numerous supplements that can help boost performance, decrease recovery time and delay muscle fatigue.
Here are the top supplements for Sprinting athletes:
There is no better supplement for an athlete than creatine. Creatine helps to volumize the cells and replenish ATP (Adenosine TriPhosphate) stores so that you can workout harder, recover faster and have more power during a workout. Depending on your goal you should take 4-8g/day of clean creatine monohydrate. To boost your performance take creatine with a complete carbohydrate matrix.
Most people take protein directly after a workout, but science shows that taking protein before we sleep can have the greatest effect on overall performance. The reason we take protein is to help muscle tissue recover and heal, but this can only be done if we stimulate protein synthesis - a mechanism for recovery. During sleep testosterone secretion is at its peak, and ingesting an excessive amount of protein will stimulate protein synthesis to help recover overnight, with the highest testosterone levels.
By increasing the extent to which the muscles relax and improving sleep, muscles can have a better chance of repairing during sleep, decreasing the amount of time needed for muscle recovery. This can be extremely beneficial for athletes, allowing the athlete to be able to perform more intense workouts closer together in time.
Hemp is making a comeback because of its low cost and great health possibilities. Hemp protein has a great spectrum of amino acids, is low in calories and very easy to digest. This means every serving you take pushes you further in your quest for vegan sports performance.
As a sprinter, your goal should always be maximal effort. Without an adequate store of nutrients that your body demands during exercise, you will not be able to perform at your highest level. Try eating a diet that is high in carbs, relatively high in protein and low in fat. On exercise, days be sure you are eating a large amount of easily digested carbohydrates. On days where you are not training you can increase the amount of protein in your diet in order to emphasize recovery rather than glycogen loading with high carbs.
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