When preparing for a race, not only do you need to pay heed to your training, you also need to ensure your diet encompasses all of the nutrients you need to strengthen and support your muscles.
Whether your challenge is a 5K or a marathon, getting your training diet spot on will help you go that extra mile and avoid sustaining injury.
With this in mind, nutritionist Sarah Flower highlights six of the best nutrients you need to optimise performance and minimise the risk of sprains.
If you want to improve your sporting performance, you need to increase muscle energy production.
This requires activation of aerobic respiration in the mitochondria and magnesium plays a vital role in supporting the mitochondrial and APT process.
Magnesium can also help to reduce inflammation as well as maintain muscle mass and reduce damage from free radicals.
To speed up post-training recovery, magnesium can help to repair and relax sore muscles, combine this with a soak in the bath with some Epson salts to soothe your body after a workout.
Also try increasing your consumption of magnesium-rich foods such as pulses, nuts, wholegrains and green leafy vegetables to your diet.
You can also take a magnesium Citrate supplement, such as Power Health’s New Era 8 (available to buy at powerhealth.co.uk for £8.49). These mineral tissue salts are easy to take and simply melt in your mouth.
Similar to magnesium, Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) plays a vital role in energy production and the APT system.
As a powerful antioxidant, CoQ10 can improve sporting performance, strengthen the heart and increase oxygen consumption and transportation.
CoQ10 is found in every plant and animal cell, however, it is often beneficial to take a CoQ10 supplement to ensure you have adequate supply.
During periods of extensive training, you will need to support the mitochondria health with omega 3 fatty acids, so ensure you consume plenty of oily fish or take a good quality fish supplement such as Krill Oil, which has the additional benefits of being a powerful anti-inflammatory.
Krill oil contains Astaxanthin, which helps reduce soreness and decrease lactic acid, aiding endurance.
Zinc is a super-nutrient when it comes to challenge training as it is needed for the growth and repair of muscle tissues.
In fact, it is needed for over 200 enzymatic reactions and also helps to support hormones including insulin, thyroid and sex hormones and acts as a natural anti-inflammatory.
Zinc also plays a vital role in supporting our immune system; and a deficiency in zinc can affect strength, endurance and cardio-respiratory function.
Increase zinc in your diet by eating pumpkin seeds, spinach, nuts, wholegrains, oysters and beef.
Iron is a nutrient which helps to transport oxygen to our tissues. An iron deficiency can affect our aerobic capacity as well as impair our energy.
You will also need to ensure you have adequate Vitamin C in your diet in order to utilise the iron.
Iron is found in red meat, poultry, sea food, dark green leafy vegetables and fortified cereals.
Vitamin C also plays a vital role in supporting our immune system, connective tissue and can help reduce inflammation.
It has a primary role in the production of collagen, the main protein substance in the body. It is also a powerful antioxidant and required for the growth and repair of muscle tissue.
If you do sustain an injury whilst training Vitamin C can help heal any wounds, repair cartilage and strengthen tendons, ligaments and blood vessels.
The best sources of Vitamin C are berries, dark green vegetables, broccoli, peppers and tomatoes.