INSHAPE NEWS OPINION
Photo credit: Jeff Broughton 2010
Diana Robinson – Nutritionist
Clean eating months prior to a triathlon is extremely important so that your body has time to clear out toxins and get in optimal shape before the big day. At least 3 months prior is when you should get serious about your diet. This means avoiding processed foods and sugar, eating an array of different vegetables and fruits, good quality sources of protein and plenty of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.
During intense and prolonged exercise, your body produces cortisol (the stress hormone) and free radicals (the things that cause damage to your cells). This is an unavoidable side effect, but you have control of how it effects your cells and ultimately impacts on your health, immune system and aging process. This is of course through your diet.
To combat free radical damage, make sure to include plenty of vibrantly coloured fruits and vegetables. Quite literally, you need to eat the rainbow. A helpful tip to remember about anti-oxidants is, the darker the colour, the higher the antioxidant level. For example, blueberries, purple cabbage and spinach are all excellent sources of antioxidants, that will help to mop up any free radicals before that can cause damage to your healthy cells.
The effect of elevated cortisol levels can negatively effect your sleep, weight and skin. Things that can help to reduce cortisol are limiting caffeine and sugar intake, keeping well hydrated and practicing regular calming exercises such as yoga, tai chi or meditation. You can also take herbal and nutritional supplements to help protect the adrenal glands and reduce cortisol levels, such as ashwaganda (withania), rhodiola, tulsi (holi basil), vitamin C and B group vitamins. For anyone undergoing an intense training regime, particularly if you have outside stressors (e.g work, life), I would recommend taking an adrenal complex with the above herbs and nutrients.
Be conscious of your macronutrients and ensuring that you get a good balance of protein, fats and carbohydrates. At each meal you should include a source of protein, some sort of vegetable, fruit or salad (as many vegetable as possible), a source of omega-3 such as fish, nuts or avocado, and a complex carbohydrate such as brown rice, buckwheat or quinoa.
Diana Robinson is a Melbourne based nutritionist working in clinical practice with a special interest in food intolerance, fitness and mood disorders.
Diana graduated from Melbourne’s Endeavour College of Natural Health with a Bachelor Degree in Health Science – Nutritional Medicine. She is a firm believer in living life to the full and taking care of your body by feeding it healthy, nutritious food but not forgetting to nourish your mental wellbeing also.
Diana encourages patients to seek enjoyment from the food they eat rather than having a negative relationship with food. When you learn to eat right, you will learn that food is your friend and not your enemy.
You can follow her Instagram for inspiration and recipes @dianar_nutrition.
Disclaimer: The information published in this column are based on each of the author’s own professional and personal knowledge, and opinion. This information and opinion is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any manner. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition and consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional program or exercise program. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on InShape News.