Nutrition in everyday office life
How can I optimally adapt my diet to my training units?
Who doesn’t know this: dealing with the everyday work and stress of office life while trying to squeeze in one or the other training unit during your lunch break or right after work? And because you usually go straight back to your screen or the next meeting after the unit, you often don’t have time for a proper meal. Nevertheless, a few basic principles can help you adapt your diet better to training.
As a general rule, the more intense and timelier the planned effort, the more important it is to heed what you eat and drink beforehand. Accordingly, relaxed training gives rise to significantly fewer gastrointestinal problems. The food eaten before training or a competition can only have the desired effect once it has been digested and the nutrients and energy have been absorbed by the body. In light of this, it is crucial to keep in mind that the stomach contents are not yet available to the body. Nutrients are only absorbed in the intestines (i.e. after they have passed through the stomach). Anything left in the stomach can cause burping or nausea.
The digestion time depends on the type and amount of food. It can take anything from a few minutes to several hours and also varies from person to person. It is therefore necessary to experiment somewhat to figure out the best time to eat.
The following factors influence the digestion time or the gastric emptying rate:
- Fat extends the digestion time.
- Protein extends the digestion time. Foods such as meat, fish, eggs, and cheese should only be eaten in small amounts, especially if they are also rich in fat.
- High-fibre foods such as vegetables or fruit provide a lot of nutritional volume, but little energy. They are therefore unsuitable here, so don’t eat them right before training.
- Liquid meals are digested faster than solid ones.
- The larger the meal, the longer the digestion time.
- The more processed the food (e.g. through cooking) the faster the digestion.
For everyday office life, this means eating a balanced breakfast with good carbohydrate, protein, and fat components. An example of this is muesli with oatmeal, curd cheese, fruit, a handful of nuts, chia seeds and linseed. A «mid-morning» snack can be eaten about 1-2 hours before the effort. Easily digestible, carbohydrate-rich snacks such as sports bars, cornbread rolls, rice cakes, bananas, a small, low-fat sandwich, or a sports drink are suitable here.
The recovery phase after a training unit is a key component of your overall training. It is sometimes viewed as an add-on that can be neglected when there is a «lack» of time. This is, however, wrong. The goal is to be so fit again for the next load you can train optimally. Regardless of whether it's for your second training unit that day or the next day. In principle, the various recovery measures depend on how quickly you need to be optimally primed for the next physical (or mental) exertion. The quicker this is required, the more important it is.
The main objectives of nutrition are to:
- Replenish your energy reserves, especially your carbohydrate reserves in your muscles and liver (glycogen)
- Replace fluid losses (sweat loss)
- Support the repair, (re)building and adaptation processes in your muscle and other tissues
To achieve these three nutritional objectives, optimal recovery requires 0.3 g of protein per kg of body weight, 1 to 1.2 g of carbohydrates per kg of body weight and 150% of the weight that was lost during the unit in the form of fluids. Here’s an example for a woman weighing 60 kg who lost 1 kg during the training unit: 18 g of protein, 60 to 70 g of carbohydrates and 1.5 litres of fluids.
For example, you could prepare a sandwich with cheese, ham, egg, or tuna without too much butter along with a drink. Another option would be to bring a muesli mix, similar to your breakfast, or a quinoa salad with vegetables and chicken from home. If you don't have time for solid foods, you can also mix up a nutritious and high-energy drink from fruit (or vegetables), oatmeal, low-fat curd cheese, and some milk as a meal replacement.
Lose weight and still perform well?
In principle, you need to eat less energy than you burn to lose weight. In such a situation, optimal regeneration is not always automatically guaranteed. You should therefore always carefully consider in which training phases you can restrict your food or not. Tough training phases should not be used to simultaneously lose weight. You also have to keep in mind that dieting reduces your resilience – if this is not taken into account, you will increase the risk of injury.
When you’re in a hurry and don't have much time, planning your food and energy intake well is of immense help in improving your quality of training and ability to recover. If you can do this, then nothing will stand in the way of your next interval unit or a run together with colleagues during your lunch break.
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