How proper nutrition can enhance climbing performance

Hi guys!

The last week we talked about some pieces of advice useful if you are training in a gym and you are new to climbing. But there is something else that you can do if you want to improve your climbing performance: having a proper nutrition.

Climbing is not just about learning techniques or warming up, but it is mostly about food!

I would like to think that I have always had pretty good eating habits, but it was not until I started climbing, four months ago, that I began to focus on how I could enhance my achievements by consuming proper food and drinks.

The impact of nutrition on climbing performance most of time is underrated. Indeed, climbing is not just about learning techniques or warming up, but it is mostly about food!

If you consider your body as a machine and foods and liquids you consume as your fuel, it is easy to understand how important is to fill your fuel tank with proper nutrition. In climbing, you tend to rely especially on your forearms, which are in a state of contraction most of time. They produce energy without receiving oxygen, thanks to the anaerobic system and when a muscle have to rely on this kind of energy system tend to reach exhaustion much faster. So, how can you delay forearms exhaustion and avoid a certain failure on a climb? The answer is simple: by choosing your fuel wisely. In other words, thanks to a proper nutrition!

Essentially, you can nourish your muscles by consuming carbohydrates in the form of glucose, the primary energy source, and glycogen, the secondary one. So, in order to improve your muscle endurance and delay the onset of fatigue your aim is increasing your glucose levels. This will delay the need for your muscles to dip into your glycogen tank, which depletes significantly faster. If you climb regularly then you should also have a regular consumption of carbohydrates so you can maintain good levels in your fuel tank.

Simple carbohydrates are quickly broken down and absorbed by your body, whereas complex carbohydrates must be broken down into simple sugars first and provide a more gradual energy release. For example, if you want to consume complex carbohydrates, it is advisable to do that at least a couple of hours before your climbing session so that your body has enough time to extract the energy.

You can find simple carbohydrates in all fruits and they are a good option if you are stuck at work all day and need a snack that will give you energy fast just before going to the gym. Conversely, complex carbohydrates are common in starches, grains, and vegetables. Whole grains, root vegetables and dried beans are also excellent sources that are packed with vitamins, minerals and protein.

However, before a climbing session, eating properly is not enough. You should be focusing on hydrating too. Hydration is crucial in improving muscle performance and just a slight decrease in hydration can result in a significant drop in performance.

To sum up, maintaining hydration by drinking water throughout the day, along with a proper supply of carbohydrates, could turn out to be the key for a successful climb and to reach the top!

Francesca Berti

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