Athletes Voice

Nutrition Q & A

Sports Nutritional Questions Answered by Secret-Traininguae from the school of thought of ‘Tim Lawson’

Sports Nutrition is complicated and also very personal. Why do some things work for one athlete and not for the other? Everybody’s body works slightly different and there are so many variables: your own metabolic rate, your normal eating habits, how sensitive are your intestines, food allergies etc etc

With this in mind and coupled with the fact that there are different schools of thought amongst the sports nutritionists about the nitty gritty, our advocated nutritional approaches might not suit everybody in all situations. What we can promise you though is that our answers will be based on well researched knowledge and are not merely here to promote the sales of certain products.

If we don’t know an answer, we ask Tim and if we still don’t know it we will tell you so...

Feel free to send your questions to our email address and we will personally respond to you by email. If appropriate and with your permission we will post your question and our answer on this page.

We would love to hear from you!!

David & Rianca and The Sported Team

Staying hydrated Nutrition Sported 600x600 - Staying hydrated while training in hot weather or indoors

Staying hydrated while training in hot weather or indoors

Hot weather and indoor training can make it difficult to maintain optimal hydration, dehydration is not healthy but it is always important to remember it is possible to overconsume fluids during exercise. Too much water during exercise can cause the sometimes fatal condition hyponatremia, (literally low sodium) often known as water intoxication.

One of the adaptations to training is a reduction in the amount of sodium lost in sweat. However, as sweat rate increases the sweat gland has less time to recover sodium so if you are sweating a lot more than usual you may need to increase consumption.

Hyperhydrating prior to tough sessions by drinking 400-800ml of strong electrolyte solution -double up on electrolyte fizz tabs could be a useful strategy and the same after exercise in addition to a good protein recovery drink. REMEMBER water alone will just increase urine volume after exercise, this is one situation where you really benefit from sodium.

Getting hot and dehydrated during some sessions can have beneficial effects. The body adapts by increasing plasma volume, this reduces haematocrit level and EPO is produced to bring the level back up. The net result is an increase in red cell volume. NB Chronic dehydration is not healthy and will have a negative impact on health, performance and adaptation;- ensure you rehydrate properly after exercise.

During exercise, it is important to balance hydration and energy needs. If hydration needs are high and energy needs low then superhydration drink mix is optimised to deliver more hydration to the right body compartment.

For most indoor sessions Training Mix can maintain energy levels without fear of compromising fat burning. The special slow-release sugar used in Training Mix has been shown to work well in hydration drinks (Amano, 2019), making it a good choice for most zwift sessions. OK, if you want to race for several hours it may be beneficial to switch to a regular energy drink like Energy Mix but for sessions less than 90 minutes Training Mix can be a great option. 

How to use caffeine for training - Sported

How to use Caffeine for Training and Race Days

When it comes to using caffeine to help with training and racing, it’s all about the timing. Different people have different reactions to caffeine, but here is our general advice:

Caffeine before a fasted training session

A black coffee before a fasted training session is likely to help your body to fuel from fat, helping direct your metabolism towards fat burning.

Caffeine is likely to make your fasted training more efficient. In this case you only take water, or electrolytes and black coffee and no other carbs, including milk. Training like this should be kept for those easy or medium-paced sessions (not much longer than two hours).

Caffeine for an energy boost

If you’re taking caffeine together with carbohydrates, be it with regular food, a gel, or a drink with carbs, your metabolism is directed to fuel more from carbs and less from fat. 

This strategy is great when you want to push hard in a race, time trials or tough interval session. Having plenty of readily available carbs in your body with some caffeine will give your energy levels a boost.

This strategy can lead to you burning less fat. This is why in a longer race – where you will need to make optimal use of your fat stores, but also need a steady stream of carbohydrates throughout – it is advised to only start taking caffeine in the latter part of your race. 

If you start taking caffeine too early (therefore not using your fat stores effectively) you are more likely to run out of steam well before the finish line. 

Caffeine for pre-session digestion 

Caffeine can also help stimulate a bowel movement before a race or training session If you have breakfast (combining carbs and protein here) three to four hours before your race, you could combine it with a cup of coffee. The three to four hours will allow enough time for the effect of caffeine to wear off and not interfere with your fat-burning metabolism once the race starts.

More from Nutrition Q&A

How do I balance intake of solids and liquids during an ironman?

If I want a stronger energy drink can I just put more scoops in my bottle?

Is Sports Nutrition Safe for Children and Teenagers?

Is Sports Nutrition Safe For Children? - Sported

Is Sports Nutrition Safe for Children and Teenagers?

Tim Lawson, owner and founder of Secret Training, answers the frequently asked question; “Is Sports Nutrition safe and sensible for children and teenagers?

What is Sports Nutrition?

Sports Nutrition is made of real food ingredients in a format that makes it easy to dose and use in a sports context. Using a brand that leaves the ‘nasties’ out and uses natural ingredients will for sure be a more healthy choice than downing a tin of soda or eating a mars bar.

Children’s Bodies Work Like Adults’

Children’s’ bodies don’t work any differently from adults’ in that they need more carbohydrates and protein with increased activity, and that they can perform and recover better when they get the right amount and quality.

Athletic Children Could Need More Sustenance

When children are keen athletes and put many hours of training in, and at the same time need nutrients to grow and develop their bodies, you might argue they need more than adults in terms of sustenance.

A Sensible and Realistic Strategy

For example, a 10-year old participating in a pre-school-morning swim session will be hungry by the end and it will be a lot easier to consume a balanced protein shake next to a peanut butter sandwich than just a home-cooked or packed breakfast with the same quality proteins in it.

When a 15-year-old has a 2-hour rugby training session after school fuelled by some carbohydrate gels, he or she will likely have a more productive workout. Following this with a protein shake without having to resort to some junk food before dinner seems a sensible and realistic strategy.

Non-Athletic Children Don’t Need Extra Carbohydrates

Of course, a child who just does a couple of regular PE sessions a week, is not particularly active or even a little overweight, doesn’t need extra carbohydrates. They just need normal healthy meals, snacks and to stay hydrated with some low carbohydrate-electrolyte drink in warmer weather.

As with adults, what children take in terms of sports nutrition should depend on the situation.

Products with caffeine and creatine are best not taken by those under the age of 16 and extensive fasted training is best reserved until children have finished growing.

Katie Lawson - Is Sports Nutrition Safe for Children and Teenagers?

Katie Lawson, our own Under 10 Secret Training ambassador and a keen cyclocross athlete uses Secret Training Real Fruit Gels and Black Currant and Elderflower Super Hydration – Now with increased training volume using more of the protein recovery products. 

Look out for Katie smashing out sessions on Zwift!

More from Nutrition Q&A

How do I balance intake of solids and liquids during an ironman?

If I want a stronger energy drink can I just put more scoops in my bottle?

How do I balance intake of solids and liquids during an ironman?

You need enough liquids and electrolytes to prevent dehydration, having said this you should expect a 2-4% drop in weight by the finish line, so your aim is never to drink enough to maintain starting body weight.   You need fuel in the form of carbohydrates.  Whether this comes in the shape of solids, or liquids, or most likely a mixture of both is totally up to you.  Aim for a carb intake of 90g per hour, this is a lot more then a lot of athletes think they need.  So do your math and write out a plan with exactly what you are going to eat and drink, look at the ingredients and calculate how many carbs per hour your plan will give you.  Be specific for all stages starting in the warmup, not neglecting opportunities at the swim lineup and transitions.  You will be able to fuel more on the bike then the run, so make sure you use that leg of the race.  Bon appetite!  

If I want a stronger energy drink can I just put more scoops in my bottle?

Do you mean with ‘stronger’ higher in carbohydrates?  This depends on two things. If the drink also contains electrolytes then the prescribed amount will provide you with the right electrolyte balance, it is normally safe to make it a little stronger, however increasing by too much might make the concentration of electrolytes so high that it could have the opposite effect i.e. it might draw liquids from your body towards your intestines where the strong electrolyte mix sits.  

If your energy mix consists of just carbs in theory you can make it as strong as you want, however your body won’t be able to digest/absorb much more then 90g of carbohydrates per hour.  What type of carbohydrates are in your drink also matters as some are more easy to digest as others.  High fructose levels are often the cause of GI distress (Gastro Intestinal).  Equally simple sugars like glucose and Sucrose although quickly absorbed in lower doses are less well tolerated in high doses then more complex mixes with Maltodextrin and sticky rice starch.  Not everybody is the same, so practice with different types and strengths and perhaps slowly increase the amount of carbs if experimenting and try it out whilst training…what works for your training buddy might not work for you!