Sleep, Nutrition, and Hype Cycles
Throughout our interview, Jef emphasised the importance of three key factors in an athlete's training regimen: sleep, nutrition, and avoiding hype cycles. According to Jef, sleep is crucial for recovery and overall performance. He suggests that athletes prioritise a regular sleep schedule, aiming for 8-10 hours of sleep per night - and, if possible, a few naps between training sessions.
As for nutrition, Jef believes in a balanced and varied diet rich in whole foods, lean proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates - avoiding extreme keto because it can lead to exhaustion and overtraining.
“…by now, we know from scientific evidence that even at a really slow base, carbs are your main fuel, and especially if you go to a competition, you're actually 95% reliant on carbs.”
When it comes to hype cycles, Jef warns against getting caught up in the latest fitness trends and fads. Instead, he encourages athletes to focus on consistent, sustainable training and listen to their bodies for optimal results.
Jef's recommended supplements before a training session
During our chat, Jef shared three key supplements he recommends taking before a training session: sodium bicarbonate, beetroot juice, and Beta-alanine.
Sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda, can help buffer lactic acid buildup during high-intensity exercise, improving muscular endurance and delaying fatigue. Jef suggests consuming sodium bicarbonate about 60-90 minutes before training, preferably with a meal, to reduce potential gastrointestinal discomfort.
Beetroot Juice or L-citrulline
L-citrulline is an amino acid that, like beetroot juice, can increase nitric oxide production in the body. This leads to improved blood flow and oxygen delivery to the muscles, potentially enhancing exercise performance and reducing fatigue. Jef suggests taking L-citrulline about 60 minutes before training to maximise its benefits.
Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid that the body makes itself and gets from your diet. The body uses this little substance to form carnosine. Among other things, this regulates the body's PH level, and this affects the energy supply and the reabsorption of lactic acid by the muscles. This is why it is a popular supplement among (top) athletes.
Jef's recommended supplements during a training session
For in-session supplementation, Jef endorses the use of carbohydrates and caffeine.
Consuming carbohydrates during prolonged exercise can help maintain blood glucose levels and delay fatigue. Other potential benefits include the preservation of muscle glycogen, improved endurance and faster recovery.
Caffeine is a widely recognised stimulant that can enhance focus, alertness, and endurance. Jef suggests consuming a moderate amount of caffeine (depending on your body weight) about 30-60 minutes before training.
Jef's recommended supplements after a training session
To aid recovery after a training session, Jef recommends the use of exogenous ketones and recovery shakes. These supplements can promote muscle repair, reduce inflammation, and replenish energy stores, helping athletes bounce back more effectively from intense workouts.
Ketones can provide an alternative energy source for the body when muscle glycogen is depleted. By supplying the body with ketones after a workout, athletes can support the recovery process and help restore energy levels more efficiently. Jef recommends consuming a ketone supplement within 30 minutes post-exercise, following the manufacturer's dosage guidelines.
Recovery shakes typically contain a blend of high-quality protein, carbohydrates, and other essential nutrients to support post-workout recovery. Consuming a recovery shake within 30 minutes of finishing a workout can help promote muscle repair, replenish glycogen stores, and reduce inflammation.
Training advice for athletes looking to achieve next-level performance
Jef offered some valuable training advice for athletes striving for peak performance. He emphasised the importance of incorporating periodisation into training programs, which involves varying the intensity and volume of workouts over time.
“A lot of athletes do the middle ground, keeping a moderately hard training rate that drains them of the energy needed to go really hard. The trick is to go easy, maybe five or ten beats lower in heart rate, and then go really hard, one or two sessions per week”
This allows athletes to optimise their training adaptations while minimising the risk of overtraining and injury.
Another crucial aspect of Jef's training philosophy is the inclusion of regular recovery and rest periods. He advises athletes to listen to their bodies and take adequate rest days to ensure they can continue training effectively without burning out.
Lastly, Jef highlighted the value of working with a knowledgeable coach or mentor. A coach can provide personalised guidance, support, and expertise to help athletes navigate the complexities of endurance training and push beyond their perceived limits.
For more great tips and insights, be sure to check out the Train Your Dream website, with tons of great articles written by Jef himself.
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