When you trek harsh terrains for a living, your body is going to take a hit. Most sports scientists will tell you that if you don’t fuel up properly, you’re putting yourself at serious risk.
So after running more than 150km across 7 days in 8 states and territories, it’s no surprise that Ultramarathon runner and Red Bull athlete Courtney Atkinson understands what it takes to keep his body functioning at its prime – even in the most strenuous situations. And that means loading up on kilojoules to keep his energy levels sufficient.
While the average joe will consume around 8,700kj daily, Courtney needs to aims for 1500kj (3-400 calories) an hour.
“One big thing to note on my day on a plate is to remember I am an endurance athlete and expend hours and hours of energy on given days,” says Atkinson.
“What you’ll notice is that not everything in my diet is ‘healthy’, but the nature of my sport means understanding the functional benefits of ingredients such as sugar for pre-workout and post run recovery.
“Eating well means eating based on what your body requires to function at the level of activity you want it to perform, so that’s how I structure mine each day.”
“I generally eat a wide variety of food and no two days would ever be the same. I don’t follow any hard fast or fad diets but I aim to follow these four general guidelines,” he continues.
Here’s Atkinson’s advice when it comes to eating:
- “You’ll see lots of colour in my fridge (fruit & veg) because I tend to find you tend to eat what is in front of you.”
- “Aim to match the amount of food I consume to the duration and intensity of exercise I do that day (calories – though I’m not a calorie counter I have a good idea what’s going in compared to output).”
- Golden Rule: “onboard carbs to start replenishing muscles ASAP or at least within 20minutes of finishing an intense or very long workout. This is where a Red Bull comes in handy. I’ll 24/7 have a 24 pack in the boot of my Subaru ready when I arrive back at car after being out in the forest.”
- “Generally, try to stick to good quality low GI carbs ( great for a gradual release of energy) as much as possible but then I also have a sweet tooth… I can consume a pack of gummy lollies like a six year old! But hey life is too short to miss out on all the good things!”
Here’s what his standard fare looks like:
- First thing in the morning: cup of water and coffee.
- Post training recovery: Red Bull, banana and a big bottle of water.
- Breakfast: bowl of muesli or an Acai Bowl if I was eating out at a cafe.
- Lunch: ham & cheese on whole grain sourdough or sushi I like as an easy quick eat out option.
- Dinner: old school – a portion of lean meat or fish, a portion of some type of veg and depending on the day, I might add in some extra carbs, usually some sourdough or a beer.
- Snacks depending on training hours and intensity: extra fruit and maybe a few Tim Tams with a coffee… or a pack of them if it’s been a real killer run!