Louise Rudd explains to Matt Long how she’s developed the stomach for the fight as world class masters athlete
In a recent piece we explored the recovery from injury of multi-world masters champion Louise Rudd. Closely linked to injury is of course the issue of nutrition.
With the ongoing pandemic many risk factors pertaining to nutritional health have been highlighted, one such issue being that of obesity.
Here in the UK, news was recently reported that 25% of our population were obese and 60% were overweight (see also Yang et al. 2020).
More recently highlighted is the issue in endurance sport of RED-S (Relative Energy Deficit Syndrome), which equally has many associated risks.
Testimony from Louise
So how do we the balance between ‘overeating’ and ‘undereating’? The following is a personal testimony from the lead author as athlete rather than nutritionist….
“For me and any athlete I believe carbs are not the enemy. I have found that the ideal amount is 7-10g of carbohydrate per KG of body weight.
My need for carbohydrate will be more if I train more than once a day. What I find helps if you can’t stomach eating more is something like orange juice- don’t forget there can be 10g carbs in 100ml of orange juice.
In terms of my recovery, I have found that the addition of protein (1-2g/KG) to carbs has the added benefit of stimulating muscle protein synthesis and tissue repair.
In generic terms I eat meat, fish and dairy for general but a good nut butter could be a good vegan alternative.
I like to drink good old milk to both replenish protein and re-hydrate myself.
In my experience healthy fats also have a vital role to play in my daily nutrition because I feel they support intramuscular triglyceride stores and therefore provides energy.
The guidelines I follow suggest 70g a day for women and 90g for men, with no more than 30g of that from saturated fat.”
As we age our metabolism tends to slow and so what I’ve come to realise that what I ate 20 years ago may need to change.
I’m not sure about anyone else but my diet especially at university was questionable to say the least!! I have to personally focus on eating a better quality and balance of foods.
Yes of course there are plenty of treats in there as its mentally draining for me personally to restrict certain foods but it’s all about balance! Similarly, I’m well aware that not eating enough can lead to further problems such as osteoporosis due to poor bone health.
A question of balance
It’s important to get a good balance of macronutrients, micronutrients and fluids in your daily diet, but what else can help?
There is some evidence around tart cherry juice being useful for recovery in aiding inflammation. Caffeine has been well documented as an ergogenic aid for sports performance, especially endurance sports. I do have caffeine gum before a race – the recommended amount is 3-13mg per kg of body weight – it’s a big range as we all have a different sensitivity to caffeine – for example – if you drink coffee every day its likely you will need more to get a response. At the moment the studies show a benefit for endurance sports specifically but we all know that a caffeine burst certainly gives you a boost.
I think that Omega 3 has been shown to help with remodelling & recovery from muscle damage, as has Vitamin D. Vitamin D is also integral to good bone health and government guidelines do suggest taking a supplement of 10mcg a day in the winter months in the UK due to the lack of sun exposure. I personally take Vitamin D, a good multivitamin and mineral, an omega, a probiotic and collagen.
From the research I have done, Collagen is an interesting one – some studies have shown a benefit to taking collagen together with vitamin C (it aids absorption) to benefit cartilage injuries. after what I’ve been through, I certainly thought it was worth a try.
From your mid 20s you begin to lose about 1% of your collagen a year and for women as much as 30% in the first 5 years of menopause.
So what about probiotics? They are living organisms that occur naturally in foods such as yoghurt, sauerkraut and miso and they can be known as ‘friendly’ bacteria.
Any imbalance in the gut can definitely have a knock on effect and personally I’ve found the extra supplements have helped. Most of what you need can be found in a good balanced diet (apart from the additional Vitamin D needed in winter) so my advice is don’t worry about having to buy supplements just make sure you plan ahead with meals.
A cautionary note
Be wary of what you buy and where you buy it from as the supplement industry is not regulated in the same way as the pharmaceutical industry. (Editors note – remember to check the status of any supplement you plan to take on the Global DRO website)
Similarly if you are seeking advice from a professional – check their credentials. A nutritionist can technically go on line do a course and get a certificate, a dietician has to be registered. Clearly that doesn’t define whether they are good or bad but be weary of people advising you to cut out entire food groups or those, for example, that state no carbs after 6pm.
A change should be something that is long term and sustainable, be it for weight loss or weight gain. I try not to compare myself to others as we are all very different in both our needs and our circumstances”.
The above is a personal reflection from an athlete who has been an elite masters level athlete in bagging global titles. It is not a prescription from a qualified nutritionist or dietician.
As athlete and coach, both Louise and myself as coach/ coach educator would always recommend that for prescription, professional advice always be sought. This being said Louise’s experience as a biologically and intellectually mature athlete indicates she is understandably taking a high degree of ownership in terms of how she approaches nutrition.
So similarly, there is no reason why as athletes, you cannot engage with the same self-reflection questions as well as seeking professional advice:
Now what: Questions for self-reflection
1. How am I monitoring signs that I may be ‘overeating’ on the one hand or ‘undereating’ on the other?
2. How cognisant am I of my nutritional intake in terms of the recording of my consumption, as I would be with the logging of frequency, intensity and volume of my training?
3. In what ways is my nutritional strategy aiding my overall health and athletic performances?
4. To what extent can I take ownership of my nutritional strategy or to what extent do I need the prescription of a professional?
5. Why might my approach to nutrition change as my biological and training ages increase as has Louise’s?
You can keep up with Louise’s rehabilitation and comeback @lulurudd on twitter or @louisenrudd on Instagram. As both Midland Mens Road Running Team Manager and Midland Masters Mens Team Manager, Matt can be contacted for views on this piece through firstname.lastname@example.org.