Q I want to take my races seriously, but do I have to remove all unhealthy foods from my diet?

Andy Hathaway, by email


A: Investing a little time into your race food can bring big results. Athletes often have commitment to their training but they don’t always put the same effort into preparing food.

Athletes have permission to eat real foods with fat and sugar which might be viewed as ‘bad’ but which in the context of exercise can be both performance-enhancing and tasty. Aim for a variety of fruit and vegetables to get a full range of nutrients. experiment and listen to your body. You could swap milk for almond milk to avoid dairy sensitivities, or switch pasta for gluten-free rice or quinoa.

But if the original foods don’t upset you, why change? Whole food is best. Apples contain the anti-oxidant quercetin which is a great free radical scavenger that combats the stresses of daily life.

You could take a supplement, but without all the phytochemicals and polyphenols in the apple, quercetin doesn’t work so well.