We take on your nutrition questions with the help of our expert, Allen Lim…

Q. I want to make this the year that I take my races seriously, but do I have to remove all unhealthy food from my diet? Andy Hathaway, by email

A. Investing a little time into your race food can bring big results. Athletes often have dedication and 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. Eating carrots every day is no good. Rotate your fruit and veg as often as possible. 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. For example, apples contain the antioxidant 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.

Expert: Allen Lim, Former director of sports science at the Garmin and Radioshack pro cycling teams and author of Feed Zone Portables, velopress.com

Image: Africa Studio/Shutterstock