Food Diary of an Ultramarathon Runner

Roslyn Yee | Accredited Sports Dietitian by Roslyn Yee | Accredited Sports Dietitian 23 January 2019

Ever wondered what’s in an athlete’s fridge? Wonder no more, we’ve got the inside scoop on the eating habits of Jacqui Bell

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Food Diary of an Ultramarathon Runner

They say you can learn a lot about someone by what’s in their refrigerator. You might think a professional athlete forgoes all treats, or is there a secret ingredient they chomp on for an extra health boost? To satisfy your craving to know more, we delved inside the fridge of True Athlete ultramarathon runner Jacqui Bell, who recently became the youngest female in the world to complete the gruelling Four Deserts Grand Slam.

Fridge contents:
 

Strawberries
Bananas
Greek vanilla yoghurt
Avocado
Zucchinis
Tomatoes
Mayonnaise/aioli
Wholegrain English muffins
Eggs
Cheese
Milk
Wholegrain wraps
Ice cream
 

My day on a plate


3.45am - Wake-up.

4am - Hit the gym. Drink True Protein Pre Workout shake.

5.15am - Finish at the gym and get ready for work
 
5.30am - Head to 12 Rounds Fitness for work. Drink True WPI90 Coffee Mocha with 100ml milk, 100ml water and ice.
 
8.30am - Eat a wholegrain English muffin with two eggs or three Weetbix with a banana and a small skinny latte.
 
12pm - Eat a wholegrain wrap with zucchini, tomato, spinach, mayonnaise and cheese plus two Vita-Weat crackers with avocado.
 
2-4pm - Training again.
 
4.30pm - Eat a handful of strawberries with 200g Greek vanilla yoghurt and a second coffee.
 
5-8pm - Work at F45.
 
8pm - Dinner. Mum usually has dinner cooked for me. I don't eat much red meat anymore so usually it is chicken or fish with a mix of vegetables - sweet-potato, tomato, zucchini, potato. I like a little bit of aioli with it usually.
 
8.30pm - I have a bit of a sweet tooth so, sometimes, if there’s ice cream, I will have a small bowl of it, a few squares of chocolate or a mouthful of peanut butter.

 
Lots of people ask if I am on a strict diet with my ultra running and, honestly, no I am not. I don't like to restrict myself. I think it is super important to have a good relationship with food and for me, that means not counting every calorie and macro. I fuel myself based on my training and how I feel to be performing at my best. I am also quite social so I enjoy having brunch out with friends and nice dinners. I avoid alcohol and only drink it maybe 3-5 times a year on special occasions.

 

Quickfire questions​

What food could you not live without? Avocado!

What is your go-to dinner recipe? Homemade poke bowl with roast chicken, mixed salad, some sort of dressing, avocado, feta and pine nuts.

What is your ultimate food indulgence? I love a delicious gelato or Cold Rock ice cream with Nutella on top for sure!


What Roslyn says…

True’s in-house Accredited Sports Dietitian, Roslyn Yee, has over 11 years experience in the industry, having first made her mark in clinical dietetics before specialising in sports nutrition. See what she’s got to say about Jacqui’s diet:

Jacqui’s discipline and commitment to elite performance in ultrarunning really shine through in her diet. What and when Jacqui eats and drinks can ultimately affect her training, performance and lifestyle. Ultrarunning is an endurance sport that is extremely taxing on the body in competition and in training. Nutritionally, adequate energy intake is imperative to support frequent and prolonged exercise as well as optimising muscle mass. Jacqui consumes energy mostly through complex carbohydrates in the form of wholegrain bread and cereal, fruit and dairy as well as healthy fats from fish, dairy, avocado, seeds and peanut butter. There is less of an emphasis on protein as her training sessions focus on endurance exercises, not hypertrophy (building muscle) because excess muscle will only add weight and slow Jacqui down. However, her diet contains adequate protein to optimise her muscle mass through fish, chicken, eggs, dairy and True Protein supplementation.

Jacqui’s overall intake is well-balanced in terms of a variety of whole foods from core food groups. Although not vegetarian, her intake is mostly plant-based consisting of fresh vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Plant-based diets provide extensive health benefits and have been shown to significantly improve physical wellbeing, emotional wellbeing, depression and general health whilst lowering the risk of diabetes (T2DM), obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and many types of cancers (1,2). Jacqui is easily hitting the target of five serves of vegetables and two serves of fruit per day. This provides her with a wide range of micronutrients like vitamins and minerals as well as fibre, water, antioxidants and other beneficial plant chemicals to ensure the smooth running of a healthy and efficient body.

Jacqui’s meals and snacks are evenly distributed across the day. Eating regularly will assist with consistent energy levels over the day whilst keeping your appetite at bay. It will also help you to remain focused during work and prevent dwindling concentration levels. By eating regularly you will ensure you don’t have an energy slump in the afternoon forcing you to reach for a sugary pick-me-up like chocolate bars and other sweet treats.

Elite performance nutrition considers fuelling and recovery strategies for competition and during training cycles. When and what you eat around exercise can have a significant impact on your performance. Jacqui is fuelling her morning workout with True Pre that contains 11 functional ingredients specifically formulated to enhance energy levels and alertness to maximise your training session.

Despite being an elite athlete, Jacqui has a positive relationship with her diet and is realistic about how performance nutrition fits into her lifestyle. At times she will eat intuitively and enjoy the social aspects of food yet she remains disciplined and focused on her sporting goals. I wholeheartedly agree that having a healthy relationship with food is important and this aspect must always be considered when changing your eating practices for sports performance or improving body composition.

From analysing Jacqui’s day on a plate, the key message is that optimising nutrition for sports performance needs to be individualised. There is no single diet that suits all of us. Jacqui has carved out her intake and dietary habits through consistency in her sport and training, experience and knowledge of fuelling performance in a way that allows her to excel at ultrarunning whilst supporting her health and lifestyle.

 

References

  1. Toumpanakis A, Turnbull T, Alba-Barba I. Effectiveness of plant-based diets in promoting well-being in the management of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review. BMJ Open Diabetes Res Care. 2018;6(1):e000534. Published 2018 Oct 30. doi:10.1136/bmjdrc-2018-000534

  2. Mariah Madigan1, Elisa Karhu. The role of plant-based nutrition in cancer prevention. J Unexplored Med Data 2018;3:9.10.20517/2572-8180.2018.05

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IMPORTANT INFORMATION: all content provided here is of a general nature only and is not a substitute for individualised professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and reliance should not be placed on it. For personalised medical or nutrition advice, please make an appointment with your doctor, dietitian or qualified health care professional.

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