Nutrition Naturally is currently sponsoring a team of two students, my nephew Thomas and his friend Augustin, in their bid to cover 6000 km, through France, Spain and Moroccan Sahara desert in a 43 year-old Renault 4L! Apart from the enormous challenge of making sure the car is fit for the road, their main objective is to take school and sports equipment to impoverished children in Morocco.
During the 10 days of the rally I will be providing suggestions on what they can eat to help their endurance.
Here’s my initial advice:
1. Eat healthy whole foods: Ensure a good balance of healthy whole foods including protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. Protein rich foods, which you should be able to find easily include meats, fish, eggs, beans and lentils. Complex carbohydrates are fresh fruit and vegetables in the six colours of the rainbow (green, red, yellow, orange, blue/black/purple, white/tan) and whole grains. Healthy fats are avocado, olives and olive oil, tree nuts (almond, walnut, brazil, macadamia, etc), seeds (chia, flax, etc), coconut, yoghurt and egg yolk.
2. Ensure adequate energy needs and macronutrient breakdown: A 21 year-old man’s daily calorie requirements to meet daily energy needs with moderate activity are around 2,800 calories. You should aim for 560 cals from protein or, more specifically, 1.2-1.6 grams per kg of body weight (90-120 grams for a 75kg man) to ensure adequate muscle and energy. As an example, a medium-sized chicken breast is roughly 38 grams of protein. Carbohydrates should represent around 700 calories including around 7 portions (1 portion = size of your fist) of vegetables and 3 of fruit and around a cup of grains or légumes. This will provide you with energy and vitamins and minerals for peak performance. Fats should represent around 1,430 calories (you would get this from eating, for example, 2 eggs for breakfast, a steak at lunchtime, fish for dinner, having French dressing on a salad, one avocado, 12 almonds and six olives).
3. Stabilise blood sugar: Ensure stable blood sugar by eating a protein every time you eat a carbohydrate. The protein slow down the digestion of the carbohydrate and stops insulin spikes which can make you stressed, hungry and tired.
4. Keep your energy, concentration and hunger levels steady: Avoid sugar and sugary food (any foods using white flour and refined grains like white rice) and drinks such as soft drinks. See blood sugar stabilisation above.
5. Stay hydrated: Drink at least 2L of purified water or herbal teas (mint tea would be a great option in Morocco!).
References : Alliance for National Health (2018) Food 4 Health Guidelines. Available at https://www.anhinternational.org/campaigns/food4health/.