When you start to train seriously in your 40’s usually you have a number of aims that you are trying to achieve healthier, fitter, to lose weight or a combination of all. It is important to remember that from a nutrition view point you may not achieve what you expect immediately. You may see marathon training as a great way to lose weight but if you reduce your food intake dramatically at the same time as starting an intensive training program just because “you are in the zone” your success may not be as you would have hoped. And you may run the risk of injury which then throws your training program. Remember what you see on the scales and what is going on below the surface might not be what you would expect. Often when you gain muscle, weight on the scales can go up but you will actually notice that your body shape is changing.

Keys to success?

On a training day use training as your driver for eating rather than sticking to “three meals per day” mantra. If your run or cycle is in the evening then have your main meal at lunch time with two substantial snacks around the training session.

Don’t make the mistake of not refuelling after evening training. There is a myth that this will not help with weight loss and if you are going to eat then certainly no carbs! You don’t have to eat huge amounts but something with carbohydrate and protein within 30-45 minutes of a long hard endurance session will ensure that you are more productive in the nest session. More consistent training sessions will have a better effect on your body fat stores than restricting in the recovery period.

Make sure you meet your energy needs for your new lifestyle. Many older athletes fail to do this and end up either sick or not making gains in terms of times and performances. Endurance training such as cycling and running will use a combination of fat and carbohydrate as fuel but if the carbs run out you will use muscle (protein stores) to provide the body with fuel. Using some of the online free apps to monitor food intake and calorie output will help you manage this new lifestyle change.

For some it will be important to watch and make sure you don’t eat too much. You have to be honest in how hard the training session was and how often you are training. On non-training days revert back to your three meals per day if this helps you manage your calorie intake.

Be careful with alcohol. It will add significant calories and burning the candle at both ends eventually catches up with you and your new training lifestyle.

Fluids are important. Water, soups, milk and dilute sugar free juice are all good sources of fluids. Use sports drinks sparingly and if your run or cycle is less than 60-90mins with good prep you might be able to do without. Planning is key.

As we get older some nutrients such as protein, calcium and vitamin D may become more important to maintain muscle mass and bone health. Through the winter months it may be appropriate to use a vitamin D supplement as our main source is the sun and there is not a lot of that about in December! It is unfortunate but we start to lose muscle mass in our thirties. Exercise will help to maintain it but spacing out protein intake is crucial so it’s available to the muscle when it needs it.

If you are considering sport supplements then you really need to know what you are taking, why are you taking it and are you doing the basics right. Be careful with stimulants and fat burning type supplements and if you are taking multiple supplements you really should seek advice on usage and suitability. Some of them are not what they seem and ingredients that should not be in them have been found.

I really want to emphasise the importance of giving yourself time. It is human nature to expect changes quickly and we can get disillusioned if we don’t see them. Remember Rome was not built in a day!


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