BK GUDMUNDSSON | Training & Nutrition for the Competitive Athlete
by Björgvin Karl Guðmundsson
When you are a competitive athlete your approach to nutrition can prove to be the decisive factor between succeeding and failing. You either eat properly and fuel your system with the stuff that brings out the best in you or you risk your performance being below par. I am competing in a sport where the margins are so slim. There can be so little that makes the difference between winning an event or coming in 5th, 12th or even last. So it is simple. You either get your nutrition right or you can just forget about it because you can be 100% sure that most of your competitors are getting it right.
This is not just something you do when you get closer to a competition. Making sure that your nutrition is on point 365 days a year is a commitment you have to make - but this commitment isn’t that hard to make. There is plenty of loopholes and there can be cheat days and celebrations. As long as you know when you have to be super strict and when you can be a bit loose, then this will all work out. I had not really applied myself to proper nutrition until 5 years ago. Of course I was choosing healthy options (or at least I thought I was) before that but I did not have my nutrition scientifically dialed in to work for me, my body type, the level of training I do and the goals I set for myself like I do now. My journey with RP (Renaissance Periodization) started 5 years ago and I have not looked back once ever since. It just clicked instantly for me and to make it clear I was actively using the RP platform long before I became a RP sponsored athlete.
As soon as I got the hang of how my nutrition is planned it soon just turned into a habit. Through this process I have learned exactly how to fuel my body and I do not have to force anything or think specifically about how to construct my meals. I just know exactly what portions of each ingredient I need to put on my dish every single time. Of course the nutrition varies a bit between seasons and phases but I try to keep it as consistent as possible and as soon as I understood why I eat a certain way for a certain purpose it became very simple and easy for me to maintain this.
My meals are very much constructed to fit into my training. I usually train twice a day. One session in the morning and then another session in the afternoon. I eat before, in between and after the sessions, and the same thought process applies to how I approach the nutrion in those cases..
My first pre-workout meal is my breakfast. 3 eggs and porridge with different toppings. So basically some protein, low fats and high CI carbs so that I have enough fuel for a long and gruelling workout. The reason why I keep the fats low is because they can slow down the absorption of other nutrients and generally take longer to digest. This can cause discomfort while I am training, especially in high intensity sessions.
During training I usually have a nutrition shake with me. My go to shake is the Foodspring Chocolate whey protein mixed with the Foodspring endurance drink. This becomes an absolute neccessity if it is a long workout so that I have enough fuel to power through the whole session. This also makes a lot of difference to how fast and well I recover after the session. The reason for having higher GI carbs after this first session is to help replenish my glyocgen stores for the later session of the day. It's not something that everyone has to do, especially folks just training for an hour a day. It is a benefit to those higher-level athletes though that need to train for multiple sessions per day.
My in-between workouts meal tends to have similar values to my pre-workout meal except I have even more carbs in it. This is just to make sure that I have all the energy I need to fully recover. An example of this meal can be 140 gr. chicken, 250 gr. rice, a handful of greens, sweet chili and crushed wasabi nuts on top.
After the second session I usually have the same meal as I had between the workouts. I basically make two plates. Eat one between the sessions and the other one as soon as the session is done. This is usually around 5-5:30 PM.
Then I have dinner around 7:30 - 8:00. That meal can contain more fats that the meals around my training, but my dinner is usually not a big meal. In the evenings then I have snacks ready like some fruits and nuts and stuff like that. Then I wake up the next day … and repeat.
I know this might sound a bit complex but it really isn't. I have a pretty good feel for how to construct my meals according to this plan and therefore it is not so much about what is on the menu each day but more about the portions of each.
And since you were asking, of course I allow myself a cheat meal every now and then too. It's important to have some balance in life around nutrition, especially in the off-season. As the main competitions get closer I tend to dial things in a bit more and am closer to 100% on track.
Björgvin Karl Guðmundsson