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Gain weight during the pre-season

Published on 23/12/2019 09:12

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Whenever we plan for the most demanding seasons, we surround ourselves with professionals who adapt our training cycles with periods of output and rest.

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We also adapt what we eat, and here I present the sportsperson’s do’s and don’ts for this time of year, an interesting time to gather your strength for a very productive 2020.

Nutritional do’s and don’ts for the pre-season

1 DON’T OVERDO IT

We commonly overdo it when we want to be on “holiday”. I’m in favour of 2 excesses per week, but not of any more (this would not benefit your sports or your health). I don’t like large weight increases during this time.

2 BE AWARE

Although you can be more flexible with your food, be aware of your choices. Look for nourishing foods, “superfoods”, antioxidants… That way you will recover more quickly!

3 INTRODUCE FIBRE (prebiotic)

When in full competition mode, I am not in favour of incorporating great quantities of fibre, as this is related to intestinal sports pathologies (vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain…). So, this is the ideal time to add this “food” which is beneficial to our intestinal flora. Wholemeal pasta increases pulse each week, wholemeal bread or bread made from ancient cereals (spelt, rye…). This will give you a healthier intestinal flora.

4 INTRODUCE PROBIOTICS

These are the most forgotten about. The intestinal flora we have in the so-called “First World” is increasingly more deficient and has less and less varieties of bacterial strains. Introducing other healthy strains from “fermented” foods is a good choice for improving this: yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, pickles, kombucha, miso…

5 SAY NO TO PROCESSED FOODS

Processed foods (cured meats…), pre-cooked foods, prepared foods (sausages, frankfurters…). I don’t need to tell you that they contain UN-healthy fats which, in some cases, can be harmful to health. When saturated or hydrogenated animal fats are used in cooking they turn into trans-fats, a fat that is harmful to our health and which increases LDL cholesterol (the bad one) and triglycerides.

6 SAY NO TO INDUSTRIAL BAKERY PRODUCTS

I am not just talking about cakes, but also about the industrially made bread which they want us to think is good for us (cheap bread? Of course: containing poor quality flours, no dough starter, no fermentation, and containing binders and flavourings).

7 REDUCE YOUR PROTEIN INTAKE

Each day we over-consume proteins. This has been more than evidenced. There is no need to incorporate meat into your meals 2-3 times a day. What is more, when I am going on a sports diet and I begin to create the meal plans, I realise that sportspeople have as much need for carbohydrates (legumes, pasta, rice, quinoa, potatoes, sweet potato…) as for animal proteins, which must be reduced, as they are already covered by the vegetable proteins. In many cases, I keep to 1-2 portions of meat per week, 1-2 portions of dairy products per week, 1-2 portions of eggs per week. An excess of protein may overload the kidneys, make you gain body fat (animal protein is always bound to fat) and, it can even de-calcify your bones.

8 INCREASE YOUR VEGETABLE INTAKE

You need to recover, and to do this, vegetable foods are essential (legumes, vegetables, greens, fruit, citrus, pasta made with ancient grains – quinoa, spelt…, dried fruits…). All of these will increase your antioxidant levels (vitamins A, E, C; tannins, lycopenes…), vitamins and minerals (without the need for supplements!). Some nutrients, such as vitamin C, are not stored by the body, and because of this, you need to find a daily source, such as kiwi or peppers.

9 MAINTAIN (or increase) YOUR WEIGHT

Exactly. The pre-season is not the time to reduce or make drastic weight changes. On the contrary, it is all about recovery, and following a strict diet may have the opposite effect. Furthermore, when many of you have obtained very low % fat values (around 5-6-7% for men and 12-13-14% for women) you have been “forced” to raise it slightly (around 2-4%). There is a reason for this: the body is not able to maintain itself for longer than 4 weeks on the lowest % level of fats that you have obtained to date. If you prolong this, you could make yourself ill or cause an injury. And this is normally at the end of the season when the lowest levels of % fats are reached. But, of course, this would only be when you have already worked at a nutritional level and your body composition has been modified. If you start to work nutritionally in the pre-season, this premise does not always occur (it will depend on each of us).

10 DON’T BECOME OBSESSIVE

This is the time to relax. You don’t have to recover from all you have gained during the season, but you also don’t have to make demands on yourself to reach the next sporting year in the same condition as you finished this one.

It is all about following some guidelines for maintaining and recovering your body and being able to carry on with your sporting activities for many, many more years.

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He convertido mi pasión por el deporte y mi formación en nutrición humana y dietética en mi trabajo y hobby, disfrutando cada día de la planificación deportiva desde el deportista amateur, al apasionado de la larga distáncia al atleta de élite en competiciones a nivel mundial. www.nutriexper.com

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