Updated: Apr 21, 2022
Have you ever trained for a particular race for months and woken up on race morning not feeling well? Or have you ever started a race, but later you have that yucky feeling in your gut? Feeling this way can quickly devastate a race. Of course, we can’t avoid EVERY ailment and illness, but we can learn to provide the proper fuel for our unique body to minimize issues on race day.
A healthy gut allows one to effectively and efficiently absorb vitamins and nutrients, correct electrolyte imbalances, and decrease gut toxins. The intestines house millions of bacteria known as gut flora, which outnumber our cells at a ratio of 10:1. Their job is to break down food and use it to begin the process of making energy. We all have different types and ratios of flora, unique to us.
What does this mean?
With unique gut flora, each athlete’s body handles the fuel that they receive just a bit differently.
Athlete One may be sensitive to gluten. Imagine this individual as the type of vehicle that runs off of super unleaded gasoline. If you put regular gasoline in its “tank,” would it stop working all together? Probably not, but you couldn’t get very far without damaging the engine. On the days leading up to a race, they would want to look carefully at what they are eating, making sure that they are receiving the proper amount of carbohydrates without accidentally consuming a food that would make their gut handle the food inefficiently.
However, Athlete Two handles carbohydrates and gluten effectively, but, during a race, their body does not handle protein very efficiently at all. This is like filling your car, which is designed for regular unleaded fuel, with super unleaded plus fuel. Would the super unleaded plus fuel work? Sure it would, but this fuel choice would not be an effective choice. This individual’s struggle lies in making sure that preceding the race (like for breakfast that day), the competitor consumes a proper ratio of complex carbohydrates to simple carbohydrates to fats with a very small amount of protein.
With your coach, fitness nutrition specialist, or trusted and knowledgeable friend, I encourage you to do your own research (because I always encourage that) to discover which fuels your body can most effectively and efficiently use!