Live Q&A with Martin MacDonald
Jamie220 Posts: 168
Do you have a nutrition query that needs answering? We're hosting a live Q&A with sports nutrition expert Martin MacDonald right here from midday on Thursday 20th February, so send in your questions for him!
Martin will be speaking at the Triathlon Show, taking place at Sandown Park in Surrey from 28 Feb to 2 March. More details at www.triathlonshow.co.uk.
Hi Martin, thanks for taking part in this live Q&A with us! How are things?
I'm now online and happy to answer any nutrition questions I can. They can relate to any areas of performance, weight loss, training, competition etc.
Plenty of interesting 'current' topics in the world of nutrition that would be fun to discuss too!
Ok - here goes. Every time I lose the last stubborn 1/2 stone that I think gets me to my ideal 'racing weight' I seem to get ill with colds, coughs etc. Any ideas why?
Should I give up my glass of fruit juice in the morning? I am concerned about the level of sugar in my diet and see it as a way of reducing my intake.
Hi Helen! This is an interesting one that could bring up lots of questions. You've already somewhat hinted at one of the questions... what makes you think its your ideal race weight?
The first two nutritional points that spring to mind are firstly, speed of weight loss and therefore the energy deficit that you are creating and secondly, your macro/micronutrient intake during this period of energy deficit.
Low energy intake can have a profound hormonal, metabolic and immune function impact. Similarly, low intakes of certain macro and micronutrients can reduce immune function. The one that we see very often in endurance athletes is a reduction of foods that are deemed to be 'high fat'. The reduction of fat can impair immune function as well as the reduction in the foods lowering intakes of important minerals, especially zinc, which may again be an issue. Lowering fat intake can also unfortunately lead to a reduced protein intake if you are not careful which again could be a factor.
Interestingly, it could just be a coincidence, you may reach a state of over reaching/training at the same time that you usually try to drop half a stone and at this time you are immuno-compromised anyway.
If any of those seem like they could be on point, feel free to ask and I can expand further.
This is one of those current topics that I mentioned that would be interesting to discuss! The answer is... it depends. If you were 'asymptomatic' for any issues that drinking that fruit juice might cause, there isn't really a necessity to get rid of it.
However, if you are trying to improve body composition, or were suffering with gout for instance, there could be an argument for decreasing your intake.
Is there a reason you'd want to cut it out? Other than worrying about it due to media hype?
Thanks Martin! I think the point you make about over reaching at the same time as trying to drop weight is a good one. I'm a bit 'all or nothing' when it comes to training and how healthily I eat!
Hi Martin, here's a topical question for you – how big an issue do you think eating disorders are in British sport? A recent survey found that an alarming number of professional sportswomen feel under pressure to conform to a certain look – what do you think of it all?
I'm reading a book called 'Pure, White and Deadly' by John Yudkin.
It details how the modern diet is very high in sugar. So far he hasn't distinguished between different types of sugars so it reads like all sugars are bad for you. This contradicts what I picked up from training over the years where we should look for complex sugars rather than simple sugars. Whats the reality? Is the high carb diet adopted by endurance athletes bad for us in the long term?
Thank you Martin,
I was just looking to improve my diet as I have quite a sweet tooth. By cutting the level of sugar in my diet I was thinking that would help me get in shape quicker for the season.
I have seen a lot in the media lately about the level of sugars in fruit juice and thought it was a t(r)opical question (sorry about the pun!).
Would a glass of water or milk be a suitable alternative? Or what about effervesent vitamin tablets, do they provide a what they claim to?
Wow, big question Jamie!
I think eating disorders, and even more so disordered eating, are a huge issue. Its something we, at Mac-Nutrition, are thinking of holding a conference on and getting some expert speakers in to talk about the issue and how to deal with it because sports nutritionists are notoriously badly prepared to deal with anything like this.
We get quite a few clients with eating disorders who we bring in psychological support for alongside our nutritional support.
One of my more controversial views is that many sports nutritionists are making matters worse. I see no end of posters and 'help sheets' (sic) that label foods as 'good and bad' or 'harming and healing' and more often than not demonising perfectly healthy foods. The average sports nutritionist graduating with a Masters hasn't the first clue about weight loss in athletes yet they put them on all sorts of horrific diets and then blame it on the athlete when they can't perform/train or stick to their 'plan'.
Like I said... controversial perhaps
Cool book. There actually aren't technically simple and complex sugars, all sugars would be termed 'simple'. Unfortunately, and something I have been quite vocal about before, is the use of the terms simple and complex, in relation to carbohydrates. They are now completely outdated. White bread, for instance, is a 'complex carbohydrate' but we know it acts very much like sugar (glucose) in the body.
The reality is, those doing a large amount of exercise can eat a lot of carbohydrate in many cases. Others simply do not seem to do as well with lots of carbohydrate even with large amounts of exercise, and this will vary dependent on the type of exercise. Sugar is something quite different to the overall content of the diet as it may promote over eating... again, not an issue if you are a lean triathlete who struggles to consume enough food anyway.
For the general public, added sugars are probably an issue, but this doesn't mean avoiding whole foods that contain sugar as some zealots might have you believe.
My main issue, that might be coming through in a few of my answers now, is when people eat more carbohydrate but at the expense of fat and protein. I have an article on the Mac-Nutrition website titled: A low fat diet worsens cardiovascular risk factors in... runners" that might interest you.
Thanks Martin, definitely thought provoking. Would love to do a follow-up on this topic with you for 220triathlon.com
Cheers Martin. I'll take a look.
Your comment re: "cutting the level of sugar in my diet" and getting in shape is an interesting one. Reducing body fat is mostly a matter of calories and once this is in place it is about fine tuning other factors such as macronutrient intake, timings and food sources. If by cutting out the fruit juice you reduce calories, you may well lose body fat but if you cut out the same amount of potato for instance, you could well achieve the same results. The question then is... which is easiest and most optimal to remove. Swapping the fruit juice for water or milk are both potentially useful options, the water is a complete reduction in calories and the milk swaps some of the sugar/carbohydrate for a little fat and protein.
Vitamin tablets provide vitamins... whether these are useful is dependent on the rest of your diet as a whole.
Hope that helps!
OK everyone, ten minutes left of this live Q&A with Martin – if you have a nutrition question for him then now's your time to ask!
As long as I can be controversial (read truthful)... I'm up for it. haha
It's generally recommended that you should have an energy gel every 30mins of exercise. But is that really possible for anyone racing Olympic-distance triathlon and up, both practically and how the stomach will react? Do you suggest a substitute to gel consumption to any athletes? And is there something you'd recommend to alternate with them?
Thank you for your time
One more question in from Twitter:
@220Triathlon @MartinNutrition 50 yr old train weeknights 5-6pm what and when should I eat too avoid fatigue— Mark Haggart (@TheRunningMan64) February 20, 2014
Good question Matt. This depends on the type of energy gel you use to some extent as well as the individual. In many individuals, they can tolerate 60g of carbohydrate per hour (up to ~90g if using multiple sugar sources and they have 'trained their gut') so using 2 x 30g carbohydrate gels is not terrible advice if you're needing to fuel in such a way. Practically depends on the feeding stations and your own set up.
We have used a number of methods with our clients ranging from olympic distance up to self fueled IM (such as Roth). For longer events we have found good benefits of using MCT oils/powders even though the research in this area is a bit sketchy. We also find that fueling on the bike is most important as once it gets close to the run and on the run, people are much more likely to get gastrointestinal discomfort therefore we taper it at these points.
Gels also need to be accompanied with fluid intake so we often use a syrup type substance, combined with water in something like a Speedfill on the bike.
A lot of people report wanting a little something solid on the bike also, just to break the liquid nutrition.
Great, thanks for the help and the info Martin! Much appreciated.
OK that's a wrap everyone, thanks for your time and input, and a massive thank you to Martin for joining us today!
He will also be speaking at the Triathlon Show next week, taking place at Sandown Park in Surrey from 28 Feb to 2 March. See you there.