Motocross is one of the most demanding sports on the Planet!
If you are reading this you don’t need me to tell you that!
One of the most common questions I get is “What should I eat?”
The right answer is…. Well it depends!
There is no one size fits all approach to Nutrition.
And I wouldn’t argue that it’s probably one of the most confusing topics around!
Every one has there own beliefs and opinions and the marketing of food and supplement companies bombards us with shiny ads for their so called healthy products!
I don’t blame anyone for wondering where to start.
As my mentor reminded me this morning, the more I learn, the more I realise I don’t know!
Firstly, it is important to note, I AM NOT A NUTRITIONIST OR DIETICIAN.
I don’t pretend to know it all.
But if you are like I was 5 years ago and are eating a Standard Aussie Diet, then these basic tips will help you.
I am part way through completing a Certification with Precision Nutrition, but what you read below is only advice and if you want a concrete laid plan and Qualified Direction then I suggest visiting a quality Naturopath or Nutritionist who will assess your current siuation and health markers and make recommendations from there.
I recommend 5th Element Wellness in Melbourne.
WHATS YOUR BELIEF?
Nutrition can be like Religion!
Some people wear it like a badge of honour that they follow a certain philosophy or way of eating.
That’s Human Nature.
It’s a primal urge to want to belong to something.
To be part of a tribe.
This blog is not written to discount one philosophy or way of eating over the next.
And this blog is not based purely on performance.
There are many people and brands of supplements out there who will tell you that smashing down additive laiden pre workouts, protein shakes, sugary gels and lollies is not just OK, but actually imperative for performance as an athlete.
My beliefs will differ slightly from this because I care about your Longevity. Both as an Athlete and a fully functioning Human wanting to live a Long and healthy life!
I have researched many eating philosiphies and also trialled many myself.
What i have written below, has helped me greatly and many of my clients as well, as a frame work.
What I really like to apply is a simple little tool called…..
It is my belief that any particular way of eating can be very healthy or quite the opposite, whether it be Vegan, Vegetarian, High Carb, Low Carb, Ketogenic, Carnivore. (or whatever the latest fad is at the moment!) Following one or any of these approaches can work for you if you believe in it, and find it easy and sustainable to implement.
The over arching factor I believe that makes any of these a good or not so good choice when it comes to performance and longevity, is, Quality of Source.
That’s why which ever way my eating template goes, I follow a Wholefoods approach, and focus on Quality, unprocessed sources of Foods to make up the majority of my meals.
It makes Logical sense to me, that consuming foods as close to there original form that have been minimally processed, still maintain all the nutrients they were made with and haven’t had any preservatives, fillers, flavours or thickners etc is going to provide a better source of Nutrients and Energy and place less stress on our bodies than highly processed foods that have been stripped of Nutrients and had all sorts of things added to them in factories.
So, I hear you saying, “But I am fit and very active, does it really matter what I eat, I’ll just burn it off anyway!”
Well I believe yes, it does matter. I used to give little care to what I ate for this very reason.
An average day for me used to look like, Weetbix and honey in the morning, Gatorade and banana before Race, Snakes, Gels and Gatorade during Race, then a Hotdog or Hamburger from the Canteen and more often than not KFC or Macccas Drive Thru on the way home.
Not only was this low in Protein, Healthy Fats and Nutrients, it was also low in overall Calories, and I didn’t know it at the time but I was starving myself!
I then ended up Pre Diabetic at the age of 32, suffering many other ill effects on my Health and body, simply by thinking, “She’ll be right, I’ll burn it off!”
And this is why I believe it’s even more important, that if you are an Athlete, particularly one who races MX or Offroad, investing some time and effort in your Nutrition will pay dividends in the long run.
Eating poor quality processed foods, in a nutshell, is very stressful on our bodies and can increase inflammation.
Partaking in one of worlds most demanding sports on the planet for hours on end each weekend, is also very stressful on our bodies!
Quite simply, we need to support this with adequate amounts of quality nutrients, that will aid in performance, recovery and help lower the inflammatory response after exercise.
Putting this amount of stress on you’re body, then starving it of Nutrients and overall calories with poor quality foods is a sure fire way to shorten your career and Longevity.
MEET YOURSELF WHERE YOU’RE AT
Nutrition is not a one size fits all approach. You are unique, so your body will respond differently to mine and the next persons.
But I challenge you to try some different things and experiment!
One thing we love as Humans is routine! And it is ever so the case with Nutrition.
Do you feel Good? Do you feel Great? Or do you just feel normal? Is your routine working?
And could normal be better?
I don’t expect anyone to drop every thing and start eating like a monk.
Every one has there own starting point, and you have your’s.
Be honest with yourself.
The first step with any type of progression is awareness.
Do you think you can do better?
Then just pick one thing! Pick one simple thing to tweak and just focus on that for a while. Habits take a long time to change, and trying to change everything at once is a recipe for disaster.
Maybe for you that’s just trying to drink 3 litres of water a day, and cut out the sugars in your coffee? Great! Keep doing that until it becomes a habit and then pick the next thing.
It’s taken me 5 years to get where I am with my Nutrition Knowledge and I am still tweaking and trying new things on a daily basis.
And I am Human. I slip back into bad habits and need to check myself from time to time!
So go easy on yourself, but take the blinkers off and be honest with your Nutrition…
Do you know what Macro Nutrients are?
I didn’t either for most of my life.
With out trying to make it too confusing, here is a quick break down
Give some thought to your Macro Nutrient make up > Fats, Protein, Carbs.
Are you getting enough of all 3? Or are you heavily skewed towards carbs like the standard Aussie Diet?
Contrary to popular belief and what the ads on TV may have you believe, our bodies actually need fats. Good quality Natural Fats Like Butter, Oilve Oil, Avocado, Coconut Oil, Fatty Fish like Salmon and Sardines (Omega 3’s)etc. Our Brain is 60% Fat and relies on Fat as it’s building blocks. They are also anti inflammatory and our bodies do actually burn Fat for fuel at low to moderate levels of Intensity when exercising.
Most people think of meat when they think Protein, and yes you are correct! But all plant matter also contains protein to a varying degree. So you will be getting a small amount from vegetables etc.
I believe animal sources (when sourced from ethically produced, grass fed sources) provide a better nutrient profile and the proteins are more bio available and readily used by the body than plant sources.
Protein and it’s associated Amino acids are another building block for our bodies that aid in muscle building, recovery and repair. They are also involved in our bodies neuro transmitter production which can effect things like mood and hormones when you become really depleted.
Another thing you may not know is, After approx 2 hours of endurance exercise , when glycogen (carbohydrate) stores become depleted, our bodies will turn to our protein stores for fuel. If amino acids aren’t present in our blood, then there can be a catabolic effect and our muscle stores can be slowly eaten away. If you are an athlete it pays to make sure you are getting enough protein in your diet, and that it is spread out over the course of the day.
***Side note, the 20-30 min post training, optimal Nutrition window is a myth. If you are training of a morning, fasted, then yes it’s important to eat soon after, that’s a no brainer! But if you have eaten 2-3 hours before training or racing and that meal contained Protein, then you will have some Amino acids floating around in your blood so it’s not a do or die window of 20-30 mins like some Protein shake companies would have you believe! Simply eating a meal with some quality protein and carbs 1-2 hours after training or racing should have you recovering well….. However a Protein shake is probably a better option than a Hotdog, so if that’s more convenient sometimes then thats an option.
Carbohydrates are our bodies main fuel source when working out at high levels of Intensity, which is what is taking place when we compete or ride a dirt bike with Heart Rates often sustained at 170-180 with spikes upto and over 200 bpm! This is where quality counts.
At the end of the day, all carbs get broken down into glucose for fuel eventually. But the type can have an effect on how quickly and how long that energy lasts.
Think more along the lines of complex carbs like Brown Rice, Qunioa, Sweet Potato etc that give a longer lasting burn of energy as opposed to sugars and refined grains like white bread and breakfast cereals.
White rice is one of the cleanest burning carbohydrate sources for the body, so therefor is a great choice for pre and post workout meals to provide a quick, clean burning carb source to replenish Muscle Glycogen stores.
MY BIGGEST TIP
Put simply, the biggest thing I see my clients get results with instantly (after cleaning things up and minimising processed foods) is just eating more food!
If you are an MX or Offroad athlete and are operating at that level of intensity for up to multiple hours of a weekend and even some weekdays for the lucky ones, you would be amazed at how many calories you burn over the course of the day.
Riding Moto is one of the most physically and mentally demanding sports on the planet. It requires an immense amount of physical strength and endurance and also a massive amount of mental focus.
And our brains consume a massive 20% of our bodies daily calorie requirements at rest!
So you can imagine how that would sky rocket when you are reading terrain and controlling a bike at break neck speed for hours on end!
It has been reported that Ryan Dungey would consume upwards of 5000 calories to complete his two 30 min moto’s at an AMA National!
Here is a short clip of Andrew Short, AMA Racer, hitting the nail on the head when it comes to his breakfast and calorie requirements on Race Day!
So what should you eat on Race day apart from more?
Well what you eat in the lead up is also important, so I would recommend, making sure in the days leading up to the event, that your portion sizes are bigger than usual so your overall calories are greater and your stores are topped off. So this will include an adequate portion of Protein with each meal, a serve or two of Healthy Fats, 1-2 cups of Complex Carbs and of course heaps of Veggies!
***This is a broad estimate and would vary a lot depending on your situation, size, activity levels and Goals etc
On Race Day I do believe the most important thing is Breakfast. Try and get this down 3 hours before Race time.
If there is one tip I can give anyone out there, MX Racer or not, and you may not agree with me on this but here goes… THROW YOUR BREAKFAST CEREAL IN THE BIN!
We have been conditioned to believe that breakfast must come from a box. That’s only been for the last 60-70 years. Before that we ate real food for breakfast.
Breakfast is just a meal. There for it can look like any other meal.
Do you like Steak and Veggies or a stuffed Chicken breast and veggies for dinner?
Yep well go ahead, that’s a much better option than breakfast cereal.
Breakfast cereal is high in simple carbs, low in Fat, Low in Protein, Low in Nutrients and will have you knocking on the door of the canteen for a jam donut and an Iced Coffee before practice starts!
Think of something that includes all of the macro nutrients we spoke about earlier, Fat, Protein, Carbs and resembles Real, Wholefoods and doesn’t get tipped out of a box!
My Race Day Breakfast looks a lot like the above and always includes, Protein, Some Healthy Fats and Quality Carbs. I aim to get AT LEAST1000 calories in at breakfast. If it is an Offroad event and you know you won’t be getting to eat properly until late in the day I would go closer to 2000 cals!
Now sitting down to 2000 calories of Meat. Veg and Rice isn’t always appealing or comfortable for everyone.
So Ii you don’t have much time or don’t like sitting down to a big breakfast before you ride, try Smoothies! These can be made with a Quality Protein powder and chocked full of many ingredients, to pack them full of nutrients and calories!
The best thing about smoothies is half the digestion is already done for you so they are super easy to get down and don’t leave you feeling bloated or Full soon after. They are great if you need to eat and then start racing early.
They are also awesome if you are a Tradie or have to get on the road early of a morning, as a breakfast option. Make them the night before, have them ready to go, as a much better option than cereal and toast.
Smoothies are also a great option to snack on, in between moto’s or sprints, during the course of the day for all of the reasons above as well. *** Remember to make your smoothie thick and eat it with a spoon! Your first line of digestive enzymes are in your mouth and are activated when you chew! So Chew It!
Check out this page for heaps of Great Smoothie Recipes, that includes calorie values.
Snacks on the day can include things like home made slices and Muesli bars. This Sweet Potato Brownie is a favourite of mine! I still rate the smoothie as a great option because you can make them to any taste you desire and they are super simple to whip up the night before and have in an esky. Fruit is an ok option if you tolerate it well.
Then making sure you have something ready to go after you finish riding or racing so you don’t have to resort to a Hotdog from the canteen or Maccas Drive through!
Remember overall calories are important so you have permission to have a second helping at dinner!
In a nutshell Qulaity Nutrition comes down to being prepared. It will require a little effort but remember, you are worth it!
How much time and money do you spend prepping your bike? Do you bring that level of preparation to your Nutrition?
Nothing new happens on race day!
It is essential that, whatever you plan to do on Race Day, you practice in Training.
Try and replicate if possible what it will look like on Race when it comes down to type and timing of Meals etc.
Racing Moto is a big Mental Game.
He (or she!) with the most Certainty Wins!
When you know your Nutrition is on point and your Energy levels and Recovery are 100%, it is just another box ticked, and another level of confidence and self belief you can bring to the start line!
The 80/20 Rule!
I do firmly believe at the end of the day like most things, Nutrition can be quite simple!
Try not to over think it, and keep it simple!
And it is true that what you do 80% of the time will dictate your results, so stay consistent.
And remember that everything serves a purpose.
If that purpose is to celebrate and enjoy a moment with friends, then yeah maybe the Chicken Parmi, Chips and Ice Cream for dessert is going to allow you to do that.
So do it…… Occasionally!
And enjoy it.
Because any stress you place upon yourself for eating a certain meal will undo or remove any of the health benefits
Lack of purpose, preparation and knowledge are the seeds for bad habits in most areas.
Are your current Nutrition Habits allowing you to Give it 100%?
INVEST IN YOURSELF
One thing is for sure it can be a little more expensive (but sometimes cheaper too!) to eat well and with less convenience.
Remember, You are your most valuable asset.
So treat yourself more like a factory Race Bike and only give your self the best fuels you have available to you.
If you have any questions in regards to nutrition or any other training and racing goals, please feel free to drop me an e mail or a message and I will do my Best to help.
Give it 100%