When training as an elite endurance athlete, grains are a crucial component in my diet. I include grains in my diet for two essential reasons:
1. Energy. Grains are a source of carbohydrate, which provide glucose that the body uses as energy during exercise. Consequently, they are an absolute must for fuelling my training, particularly for endurance events such as the 42.2 km marathon. E.g. Throughout the day I include grains at all my meals and snacks. Some favourites are toasted pumpernickel with peanut butter, stone ground bread with scrambled eggs, and a whole wheat wrap with greens, and tuna or salmon. E.g. Before a race, I enjoy a toasted bagel with honey or toast with jam.
2. Recovery. After training, by consuming grains that provide carbohydrates, our muscle glycogen is restored, which allows quick and efficient recovery so that we can do it all over again. Within 30 minutes of a run, it is a high priority to consume carbohydrates in order to restore my glycogen. E.g. After a long run in the cooler months, my favourite recovery meal is a bowl of warm oatmeal with fruit, nuts and seeds. In warmer weather, I tend to rely on smoothies made with fruit, spinach or kale, plain greek yogurt, milk and oatmeal.
Occasionally I will add some soy textured vegetable protein to my chili or stew to further increase the protein of the meal since protein is also vital to recovery, particularly to repair muscle. A favourite evening treat is homemade granola made with oats, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, honey, and chocolate chips.
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