Thursday, May 17, 2012

Event Foods

What to eat during a long event recently came up here, on Armour Archive.

Having just finished a semester of nutrition for performance, here's what I replied:

While fighting the primary thing your body is losing is water and electrolytes.

Think about the time you spend on the field. In your armour you're pretty much always sweating (heck I sweat through my gambeson at a frostbite tourney). But most of the time is spent standing around or maybe walking. Interspersed are brief bits of max intensity action. While those are physically demanding, they don't actually burn that many calories. And your muscles also highly active, but you shouldn't be sore like you are after a session of strength training.

The needs are to replace electrolytes and water. You don't actually have a high need for either carbs or protein at this time.

There are plenty of ways to replenish electrolytes: gatorade, jerky, pickles etc. So you need to find what appeals to you and what has worked in the past.

You need to eat enough that you don't feel hungry or tired. Obviously those will impede performance and these will vary from person to person and how that day is going (or how last night went). And to meet this need you should eat whatever you like to eat and has worked for you in the past. Eating lean meats is going to be preferable to fatty meats, for most people, because the fattier meals tend to be harder on the digestion.

The question asked was about event foods. And not recovery from training. Training should be much more demanding than fighting and so the needs are different and increased.

Of course, the topic of protein came up in the discussion:

You don't burn protein for energy under normal circumstance. Protein metabolism has noxious by-products (due to the nitrogen), so the body always keeps it to a minimum. Except in starvation. Using your muscles a bunch doesn't lead to protein metabolism.

If your muscles are sore, and in need of repair, then protein is needed. But the repair process takes time. If you're sore on Saturday then the repair process won't be complete until Monday or Tuesday. Protein consumption does not meaningfully affect this process. Protein consumption simply isn't gonna make a difference for Sunday.

Of course, that's no reason not to eat food you enjoy! One of the things I liked about my nutrition class was the repeated emphasis on Enjoying Food.

And the only thing that doesn't recover in a day or less is muscle soreness of the kind that would be fixed by protein consumption. There are different ways for a muscle to be sore (including Delayed Onset, where I don't hurt until after I get home from the event :P ).

Some of those other kinds of sore can be fixed faster. For instance cramps may be fixed by stretching, massage and/or electrolytes depending on cause.

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