We caught up with Dr James Morton to talk all things nutrition.
TRAIN: What foods are commonly under-eaten by athletes in your experience? Why are these so important?
Dr James Morton: It really depends on the culture of the sport and age of the athlete but across the board and in my experience, most athletes prior to receiving sports nutrition support, often under consume oliy fish in their diet e.g. salmon, mackerel etc. There is too much reliance on chicken only to achieve protein requirements! Of course, most of the general population under-consume vegetables let alone the elite athlete!
When selecting a protein source would you say dairy (Whey or Milk) is essential?
Dairy is not essential but milk is often an under-consumed protein source. It provides protein, carbohydrate, fluid, electrolytes and calcium at the same time. I often advise recovery drinks are made with milk as opposed to water, unless in an intended period of weight loss and you want to maintain high daily protein intakes without additional calories.
What’s your favourite protein smoothie recipe that covers all nutritional bases?
Greek yoghurt, banana, mixed berries, a scoop of SiS whey protein and lots of ice.
What would a typical daily food intake look like for someone who needs to fight inflammation, so it helps boost recovery?
In general, I would advise people to eat “natural” foods and avoid processed sugars and meats etc. It may sound too simple, but fresh vegetables, fruit / berries, oily fish, poultry and dairy etc alongside carbohydrate sources such as rice / quinoa / sweet potatoes etc should form the basis of your dietary approach for this goal. Avoid sugars and alcohol and limit your caffeine intake!
What supplements do you think have improved drastically over the years and what do you think is the next big thing in performance?
I wouldn’t say that supplements per se have improved but the quality of manufacturing procedures have certainly improved and SiS are leading the way in this regard. The scientific study and resulting commercial awareness of the role of protein in an athletes diet is gaining increased acceptance (as opposed to the carbohydrate focus). In contrast to conventional protein powders, I would therefore have to comment on SiS Whey20, a truly innovative method of delivering 20g of lecuine rich protein.
In terms of performance, I truly believe that the concept of nutritional periodization is the future of sports nutrition. This simply means changing what you eat in terms of type/ timing and quantity of food intake each day according to the goals of the particular session. For example, one day the goal might be to promote high trainining intensity, the next day might be a day with lower volume and intensity that does not need to be fuelled in the same way as the day before. In the same way our training loads are periodised, so should our nutrition!
What is the one food stuff someone should be eating every single day?
There is no single one food stuff, all macro and micronutrients are important as they work together to achieve optimal performance. However, I would say the biggest mistake elites and non elites make is to under-consume protein at breakfast and so for this reason, I always recommend eggs at breakfast!
Is there such a thing as too much protein?
Like all food stuffs, you can always over-consume one thing at the expense of the other. Our standard advice for protein requirements is to consume 2 g/kg body mass per day, spread out as even doses every 3-4 hours. This usually equates to protein intake at main meals, in snacks and in close proximity to the completion of training or competition.
How do you recommend people eat when they’re injured? Are there specific foods you think are particularly effective in the healing process?
Injury is is certainly a time when you need to maintain or even increase your daily protein intake to 2.5 g/kg body mass given that one of the requirements is to prevent any loss in muscle mass. Given that training load is likely stopped or severely reduced, then we also believe that carbohydrate (and calorie) intake should be reduced accordingly. So…its ramp up the protein and cut back on the sugars!
Is there a particular ‘food fad’ within the fitness industry that particularly annoys you?
There seems to be a general consensus that carbohydrate is no longer important for exercise performance anymore and that high fat diets are the key. I have spent 10 years studying carbohydrate metabolism in human muscle biopsies and whilst I believe that strategic periods of reduced carbohydrate can facilitate components of training adaptation (i.e. nutritional periodization), race winning periods of races still remain fuelled by carbohydrate! I am even more confident in this statement having been fortunate to spend two years with some of the world’s best endurance athletes.
Dr James Morton is the World-Class Knowledge Director at Science in Sport. James is a lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University and works with elite athletes as a nutritionist.