Expert shares ‘easy to digest’ foods to eat before exercise

London Marathon: Thousands take part in 26.2-mile run

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Rick spoke to Express.co.uk about what one should eat both before and after a race. He also shared the best daily meal plans to increase protein intake before running.

The fitness expert said: “For the build up to any race, it is important to get the balance right. If you are trying to hit race weight, complete this two weeks prior to the race so that your body has a chance to stabilise at this weight.

“The day before a race, I will ensure all key ingredients are met, for example. Then, on the day of the race it is better not to overindulge – you want to feel light and bouncy.

“You should have sufficient glycogen stores for an explosive sprint race from the day before, whereas for a longer endurance race you must ensure that you eat sufficiently well to get the fuel intake you need. Do not experiment with new foods or anything drastically different than your normal routine, as this will likely throw your body off.”

Rick warned against drinking too many sugary drinks, and to avoid eating anything too heavy before a race.

He said: “I recommend you avoid too many sugary drinks so that you are not up and down with your energy levels, and drink caffeine drinks if that suits you, finishing them around one or two hours prior to your race.

“A good pre workout powder with water would be recommended, too. In terms of food, I would recommend opting for a simple sandwich or salad – you don’t want to eat anything too heavy before you race and to ensure you can perform at optimum levels, make sure you finish your food four hours prior to racing.

“Before you race, you may want to stick to a protein bar or mixed raw nuts so that you can easily digest your food before you run. After your race, make sure you drink plenty of water to avoid cramping and be mindful that you may feel a bit sick so a light sandwich will help you refuel, while a protein shake will speed up your recovery time nicely.”

The elite sprinter went on to offer his top tips for managing one’s protein intake while training for a race.

He said: “Protein is a nutrient that serves multiple purposes for our bodies, so your fitness goals should serve as a guide for how much protein you should incorporate into your diet.

“Most famously, protein helps build muscle, so if you’re lifting heavy weights or pushing your body to its athletic limits, it is vital to repair and restore those muscles.

“Additionally, protein serves as reserved energy and burns comparatively more calories than fat or carbs. So, if you’re looking to stay fuller for longer and regulate your appetite, you should consider swapping sugary snacks for protein-based foods instead. This will also help those who are aiming to lose body fat.

“Protein is an essential nutrient in terms of regulating hormones and supporting the immune systems. So, even if you’re not looking to grow muscle, it is still vital for your overall health and wellbeing.”

Rick explained how vegeterians are just as likely as meat eaters to reach their protein goals. “It’s a misconception that you have to eat meat to get protein into your diet,” he said.

“While meat can be an easy, tasty way to achieve high-protein diets, the same can be found in a variety of food types, such as green vegetables, beans and lentils.

“These types of food are rich in various vitamins and nutrients, which is an added bonus! For a well-rounded, healthy diet, try to balance protein with carbs, fats and vegetables to keep your energy levels high.”

Supplements can also help one to reach their desired levels of protein. Rick advised: “Make sure you research which supplement type and form is best for your body and find your favourite way to eat or drink it.

“A popular favourite among athletes is using whey powder in daily smoothies and shakes. If you’re looking to do this, make sure you have a good shaker at the ready to ensure that it’s mixed properly and you aren’t left with a clumpy mixture.”

Rick’s daily meal plan

Breakfast (7:30am):

1/4 lemon juice with hot water or two tsp apple cider vinegar with hot water

Porridge with mixed summer berries, one tsp peanut butter, one tsp desiccated coconut, ½ tsp moringa powder, two tbs Greek yoghurt

Snack (10:30am):

Three wholegrain rice crackers with cottage cheese sprinkled with cayenne pepper

Lunch (1pm):

Chicken thigh fillet with steamed broccoli, carrots and brown rice

Afternoon snack (4pm):

Two hardboiled eggs

Dinner (7pm):

One banana and chocolate protein shake

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