Featured Features

Antioxidants and Endurance Athletes

antioxidantsPeople involved in regular endurance sport training generate huge amounts of things called free radicals as a result of using oxygen to produce energy. These cause damage to DNA, molecules and tissues and this understanding initially poses a potentially confusing question: is exercise bad for you?
Whilst exercise does stress the body, leaving it in a worse state than at the start of a hard/long session, race or event, the recovery is where the magic happens. It is through the recovery from the stress that we become fitter and healthier. During recovery, the body’s natural anti-oxidant defences are stimulated to fight off and destroy all the invading free radicals, while the body also adapts to become stronger resulting in less DNA damage.
Obviously too much DNA damage would always be bad and it is for this reason that there is a limit on how many Ironman – or similar ultra-endurance events – can be raced within a 12-month period for example. However low levels of stress caused through regular training appears to have a positive effect on the body. This vaccination-like reaction is known as Hormesis. Derived from the Greek for ‘to set in motion’, Hormesis goes some way towards explaining how (although the exact mechanism is not fully understood) low levels of stress or toxins have the opposite effect on the body to that of higher levels – a common vaccination, for example, introduces small, controlled amounts of a disease into the body to activate natural defence or repair responses.
Over the last few years it has become clear that many plant foods also have an antioxidant effect. Indeed, dark, red, green and purple fruits and vegetables have been praised for having such a healing effect on cell damage that regular broccoli is thought to half the risk of death in women from breast cancer (see, for example, This is obviously impressive and potentially wonderful news, but for the athletes, does that mean that the dietary plant antioxidants will chase away and destroy the free radicals in the body resulting in lazy bodily defences that undermine the positive effects of exercise? In other words, do endurance athletes need to choose whether to be healthy or adapt well?
No. Firstly, researchers into the positive effects of cherry juice have suggested that even if this was true, plant based antioxidants would likely speed up recovery enough that athletes could train more often causing smaller, but more regular, ‘hits’ of stress to the body which over time could be beneficial. However, more recently, this has actually been tested and what was found was that eating foods high in antioxidants, didn’t do all the work for the body, in fact they boosted the natural free radical fighting antioxidant processes. Interestingly though, supplementation with Vitamin E and C did undermine the physical processes, meaning poorer recovery and adaptation to exercise sessions.
Antioxidants are exactly that, they are anti-oxygen, so, as athletes, we want to eat lots of vividly colours fruits and vegetables that don’t go brown the moment they are exposed to the air. This means that while apples and bananas aren’t rich in antioxidants (although they are rich in many other nutrients), berries, citrus, dark green leafy veg and green tea are all a must for anyone who’s keen on being not just a good athlete, but as healthy as possible – and that should be everyone…
Feature by Joel Enoch.
Joel holds an MSc in Nutrition from Bristol University and BSc Sport Science and coaching from Brunel University, he is a respected educator for SportScotand and launched a Performance Triathlon Squad in summer 2014. In addition to this he is also an accomplished triathlete himself having raced in four European Age Group Championships (2008, 2009, 2010 and 2013) three World Age Group Championships (2009, 2010, 2013), the British Super Series and the Outlaw Iron Distance Event. His sponsors include Clif Bar, claireLOGIC Ltd and Zoggs. For more information on Joel’s squad and work see

Featured Features

Tofu Stir Fry Recipe

Tofu Stir Fry

Our Nutritionist Says:

“Tofu is made from soy, the only plant protein to contain all 21 amino acids. This makes it just about the best way for active vegetarians to get all the building blocks they need to adapt to and recover from training. You’ll also get plenty of sodium from the soy sauce and so this is a good post workout meal when intensity and sweat loss has been high.”

Joel Enoch, Sports Nutritionist -


175g tofu

1tsp light soy sauce

1tsp sesame oil

1tsp vegetable oil

25g egg noodles

100g spinach

40g sugar snap peas

1/2 a red pepper

2 medium spring onions

A handful of cashew nuts

1cm fresh ginger

Chill flakes


1. Mix together the soy sauce and sesame oil. Cut the tofu into 2cm cubes, toss together with the soy and sesame, sprinkle with chilli flakes and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least an hour.


2. Cook the noodles as per packet instructions, drain and return to the pan.


3. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan or wok until smoking hot. Add the tofu, being careful of the oil ‘spitting’. Stir and cook for 3minutes. Add the cooked tofu to the pan with the noodles.


4. Peel and thinly slice the ginger. Slice the pepper into strips and cook in the wok along with the spring onions, sugar snap peas and ginger for 3minutes.


5. Add the noodles and tofu to the wok; toss together and heat for 1minute. Toss in the spinach and allow to wilt in the heat for a few seconds. Serve.

Download the recipe HERE


Sundried Tomato and Sausage Pasta

Sundried Tomato and Sausage Pasta

Our Nutritionist Says:

“Tasty, simple and relatively cheap; use tomatoes in olive oil to get a good helping of health boosting Omega 3 oils. Western diets contain a large amount of Omega 6 from vegetable oils used in most processed foods and we need to have less of these and more Omega 3 to optimise health… Experiment with different types of sausage, but always buy the best quality. Cheap sausages can contain a lot of fat and other ‘fill’ ingredients.”

Joel Enoch, Sports Nutritionist -



30g protein

85g carbohydrates

40g fat

10g saturated fat

5g fibre

3g Salt


1. Bring a large pan of water to the boil, adding a small pinch of sea salt. Cook the pasta as per packet instruction (reduce by 1 minute for a more authentic al dente Italian style.)


2. Peel the skin from the sausages and cut the meat into bite-size pieces. Remove the Sundried Tomatoes from the oil in the jar and chop into small pieces.


3. Gently heat 1tbsp of the sundried tomato oil in a large pan, add the sausage meat and good slowly for 7minutes. When the pasta is nearly cooked, add the remaining sundried tomato oil and the sundried tomatoes to the sausage pan, season with a little black pepper. If you wanted some added ‘bite’ add a small sprinkle of chilli flakes and stir in.


4. Drain the pasta and tip into the pan with the sausage meat and sundried tomato mix; stir together, mix in the chopped parsley and serve.

Download the recipe HERE

Featured Features

Chorizo, Pine Nut and Spinach Spaghetti

Chorizo, Pine Nut and Spinach Spaghetti

Our Nutritionist says:

“Everyone should aim to eat a protein of nuts and dark green leafy veg daily because of their health giving nutrients. Along with these, lemon provides load of antioxidants to fix cell damage caused by endurance training so don’t hold back on these ingredients. Olive oil also supports a healthy heart and if you want to reduce the saturated fat content even further, replace chorizo for seasoned chicken.”

Joel Enoch, Sports Nutritionist -

40g chorizo
Zest of and juice of half a lemon
Pinch of sea salt
1 tbsp virgin olive oil
150g spaghetti
25g pine nuts
125g baby leaf spinach


1. Bring a large pan of water to the boil, adding a small pinch of sea salt.  Cook the pasta as per packet instruction (reduce by 1 minute for a more authentic al dente Italian style.)


2. Zest half the lemon and chop finely; mix with juice from half the lemon and stir in olive oil.


3. Chop the chorizo or bacon into small bite-size pieces.


4. Four minutes before the pasta is ready heat a frying pan gently and add the chorizo or bacon to the dry pan – no need for extra oil.


5. As the meat begins to cook toss in the pine nuts to toast. Keep everything moving as pine nuts tend to ‘catch’ and burn.


6. When the pasta is ready put the baby leaf spinach in a colander (keeping a handful of leafs back for serving) and drain the pasta through it to wilt.


7.  Return the pasta and baby leaf spinach to the pan, tip in the chorizo/bacon and pine nuts and mix together with the lemon and oil until the pasta is coated.


8. Serve with the remaining handful of baby leaf spinach on top of the dish.


Download the Recipe HERE


Featured Features

Sausage & Pea Penne

Sausage & Pea Penne


Our Nutritionist says:

“After a hard evening training session this is a quick, tasty and no-fuss way to get the protein, energy and electrolytes you need to recover effectively. Add kidney beans and/or extra veg for more vitamins, minerals and healing antioxidants.”

Joel Enoch, Sports Nutritionist –

150g penne
25g frozen peas
4 pork sausages
Pinch of sea salt
1/2 tbsp virgin olive oil
Chilli flakes or chopped fresh red chilli
Zest of half a lemon
1/2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
100g half-fat cre?me frai?che
Handful of basil leaves


1. Bring a large pan of water to the boil, adding a small pinch of sea salt. Cook the pasta as per packet instruction (reduce by 1 minute for a more authentic al dente Italian style.)


2. As the pasta cooks, de-skin the sausages and take out the meat, chopping roughly into small pieces.


3. Heat the virgin olive oil in a large pan (it needs to be big enough to later add the pasta), add the chilli flakes or chopped red chilly and the sausage meat, cooking gently for 5 minutes.


4. Two minutes before the pasta is ready add the frozen peas to the pasta water and cook together.


5. One minute before the pasta is ready add the lemon zest, wholegrain mustard and cre?me frai?che to the sausage pan, reduce the heat and simmer gently.


6. Drain the pasta and peas, tip into the sausage sauce, season with black pepper and stir together.


7. Serve sprinkled with the torn basil leaves.


Download the Recipe HERE


Joel Enoch Sports Nutrition Part 2

Joel Enoch Sports Nutrition InterviewJoel Enoch is one of the UK’s leading sport scientists and motivational speakers, renowned for a straightforward approach that aims to demystify nutrition. Cyclo talked Joel at this year’s Triathlon Show and, in this second of our two-part interview (read part one here), we discussed carbohydrate loading, drip-feeding strategies, omega oils and sports supplements…


Cyclo: What are your thoughts on carb loading? There seem to be as many approaches as there are athletes…


Joel Enoch: Carbohydrate loading gives a certain impression… ‘loading!’ it’s a big word, a loaded word. It gives the impression that you have to eat as much pasta or potatoes or rice as you possibly can. But really carb loading is all about tweaking your diet, but equally about getting the timing of that loading right.


Cyclo: What strategy would you advise?


Joel Enoch: A classic carb loading protocol is that a week before a race you drop carbs out for three days, this increases your bodies ability to use fat quite effectively as a fuel; then you bring carbs back in three days before you race.


But the issue with that is that people often wake up on the day of the race having over eaten carbs for three days, feeling bloated, feeling lethargic and needing the toilet – which can be a massive issue… That can be avoided; there are studies that show that if you have an increased amount of carb for two to three days you can maintain those elevated glycogen stores in the body for up to five days. So maybe what we should be doing is having that loading period on the Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday (before a race on the Sunday) and then over the two days before the race just having quite plain foods, tapering the carbs. For me the night before a race my meal is often just a salad, which means I wake up on race day feeling ready for breakfast and feeling fresh and alert.


Cyclo: So, not all about big changes?


Joel Enoch: Not at all, it’s very small tweaks. Look at every meal though – make a diet or meal plan for the week before, that’s useful. Then look at each meal and just look at the carb element of each one and add a few grams of carb, perhaps just knock back a little fat and a little protein. Very small changes… It comes back to the British Cycling mantra – the aggregation of marginal gains. Small changes that add up to a big total shift.


Cyclo: What about the problems of taking carbohydrates on during an event or long training session?


Joel Enoch: The body is more likely to have difficulty digesting, absorbing and using particularly carbohydrates during exercise because of the way the blood shunts away from the major organs and into the working muscles if you take on board big dollops of carbs just in one big go; so the more you can spread it out the better.


Now, the kind of racing dictates how much you can spread it out. For example in an Olympic distance triathlon race it is likely, at elite level, that they don’t have time to be messing about with drip-feeding, so it’s a case of working hard in training to make sure their bodies can handle, lets say one gel and a moderate consistence sports drink – just taking that one gel in one go and that will be it. They practice that in training and try different products to make sure their bodies can handle that without stomach problems.


Cyclo: But if the luxury of drip-feeding is possible?


Joel Enoch: Well, if your talking about a longer event, then there is the luxury of drip-feeding, every ten to 15 minutes a little bit of carb a little bit of fluid, then that way the stomach can cope with absorbing that amount of carb and fluid. So drip-feeding is one of the key things I would say to anyone.


Cyclo: What are your thoughts on Omega supplements?


Joel Enoch: The reason people would supplement Omega3 in particularly is that we have an imbalance of two types of fat – Omega6 and Omega3 – in out diet. Omega6 are in vegetable oils so they are in all sorts of things, even processed foods.


Omega3s are only in a very few types of food: oily fish, walnuts, avocados, olives and a couple of other types of oil; that’s about it, so we end up with this imbalance in the ratio between the two types of fat. There’s nothing wrong with either of them, but the imbalance causes an increase in inflammation in the body and that can inhibit recovery. Because it’s so difficult to get enough Omega3 oils into our diet supplementing can be useful, particularly if you are someone that doesn’t eat fish. It can certainly help an athlete’s recovery.


Cyclo: What about the broader issue of supplements? Do multivitamins have their use??


Joel Enoch: They can have. In theory all of the vitamins and minerals that we need we can get from our diet, so my initial answer is no we don’t really need these supplements. However, the vitamin and mineral content of foods is changed, quite dramatically, by how that food was stored, how it was transported, how longs it’s been since harvesting and also the cooking process which denatures the vitamin and mineral content of fruit and vegetables quite dramatically. So, when you eat a fruit or veg that should be rich in these you cant be certain it actually is when you put it into your body.


As an athlete I choose to have a safety net underneath my usual healthy, nutritional intake which first of all looks to have some fortified foods added to my diet – if you look at some cereals or something like Clif Bars (read the Cyclo review here) – those would be fortified with vitamins and minerals and that’s another way of having a food source that’s rich in vits and mins. So real food is our first choice, then fortified foods our second and then, if we still feel like we might need more supplementation, then we might take a multivitamin.


Cyclo: That’s something you do?


Joel Enoch: Yes, It’s something I do on a daily basis, but I choose the multivitamin that has the smallest amount of all the vitamins and minerals. You often see vitamin C 2000-times your recommended daily amount! Why do I need 2000-times? That doesn’t make any sense at all. For me it’s no more that a safety net.


Cyclo: Nitrate supplementing is something you say you find quite exciting…


Joel Enoch: Nitrates that are found in beetroot juice are showing quite exciting results across all of the studies so far – what’s rather unique, despite quite small study groups, is that 100% of test subjects across all of the tests have shown improvements in performance; it’s almost entirely consistent – everyone using oxygen at 17-20% greater capacity than they would do normally and without that supplement. Yes, we still need more testing, we still need more results, but it’s a very exciting area of research and something that many of the top athletes are already using. Even if it doesn’t have an effect on oxygen capacity it will help your antioxidant count to aid recovery, so there’s certainly an application there and a number of products are coming out that exploit that.


Joel Enoch Sports Nutrition InterviewIn addition to Joel’s work as a sports scientist he is also an accomplished triathlete having raced in three European Age Group Championships (2008, 2009, 2010) two World Age Group Championships (2009, 2010), and domestic Elite races including London and Blenheim. His sponsors include Clif Bar (read our Clif Bar review here), 2Pure, Nine Point Nine, claireLOGIC Ltd, Kurt Kinetic, Orca UK, POC Sports and Zoggs. For more information on Joel’s work see


Read part one of this interview here.


Featured Features

Joel Enoch Sports Nutrition

Joel Enoch Sports Nutrition InterviewJoel Enoch is one of the UK’s leading sport scientists and motivational speakers, renowned for a straightforward approach that aims to demystify nutrition. His MSc in Nutrition from Bristol University and BSc Sport Science in coaching from Brunel University lead to his passion for ‘deconstructing sports nutrition’, goal-setting and endurance training. Cyclo caught up with Joel at this year’s Triathlon Show and, in the first of a two-part interview, we talk mix-messages, scientific studies and, of course carbohydrates (with just the right dash of protein…)


Cyclo: As far as nutrition goes, do things really have to be complicated?


Joel Enoch: No, I think it’s fairly simple; most of the complexities about nutrition come from implementing it in day-to-day life and getting the timing right, and, of course, getting the right amounts of protein and carbohydrates and fats.


In theory it should all be quite straight forward – if you are doing most of your training at the weekend and Monday to Friday, nine to five, you have a nice structure, then it’s quite easy to implement all those things.


Cyclo: Then why do you think so many people seem to get it wrong?


Joel Enoch: Well, where it falls down is that there are just so many mixed messages about food and nutrition and hydration; people don’t get a clear message about what they need to consume and when they need to consume it. It’s all to do with education and helping people understand the basics of nutrition – that’s what they need to get right.


Cyclo: And the nutrition industry has a tendency to over complicate things too…


Joel Enoch: In industry there is lots of marketing of course, and they push different aspects of nutrition – so it’s very easy to get caught up in ‘Do I go high carbohydrate?’ ‘Do I go high protein?’ ‘Is high-fat good?’ ‘Is low-fat good?’ Someone, somewhere is pushing any one of those things…


One of the biggest companies that currently operate in the UK market has an entire campaign that’s based on the findings of one person in one study. But because that is an actual result they can use that in terms of marketing; obviously it’s not indicative of the improvement of, say, performance that everyone might get – actually it’s not even indicative of the improvement in performance of the all the people in that study got, its just the best result for one person…


Cyclo: The sheer volume of studies – large and small – probably doesn’t help?


Joel Enoch: Sure, there are so many studies – and scientific studies can be extremely useful – but the problem is they (manufacturers or brands) only ever look at one particular aspect. So when someone reads up on the science they will see one study that says this particular aspect of nutrition is important and then they will read another study that says exactly the opposite… It’s very difficult if you haven’t had the experience or the knowledge base to mesh all of those things together and see where the truth lies in it.


Cyclo: As an example, the addition of protein to carbohydrate seems to be a common area of confusion…


Joel Enoch: We come back to how you read science on this. There are studies out there that show if you add protein to a carbohydrate sports drink during exercise you will have an improvement in performance; the issue with that is that in every study that has shown an improvement in performance there has also been an increase in calories in that sports drink…


So, they took two normal sports drinks, added protein to one and not to the other and the one that had protein added to it – and therefore also had calories added to it – gave an improvement in performance. That’s indicative of the similar improvement in performance you get if you added different types of carbohydrates to one of those drinks – just adding more calories and therefore getting a little bit more of an effect.


Cyclo: Does that mean there’s no real benefit?


Joel Enoch: There is no current evidence in the (scientific) literature that shows the addition of protein to a sports drink will aid performance. However, if I was speaking to someone who was doing some sort of multiday stage race – so competing day on day on day – or lets say on a training camp where they are going to be training two or three times day every day with greater intensity, then I might say add a little protein to your drink that way your recovery strategy is staring during your session.


Also perhaps just that little bit of protein is going to inhibit protein muscle breakdown in the body and aid performance later down the road. That little difference could be enough to see them through the week or multi-day event and stave off injury. So there is an application for it but I think it’s really only once you get to intensive multiday training or racing. So certainly not really the improvement that is sometimes suggested…


Cyclo: But not detrimental?


Joel Enoch: There’s nothing I’ve read to suggest it could be detrimental – if it’s something that people find is useful then it is; anecdotal evidence is just as powerful as scientific evidence with enough people finding enough of a change. Quite possibly some psychological advantages too… The same goes for carbohydrates, taking it switches on little sensors in the brain and you feel a bit more positive, but that’s an effect you don’t get from artificial sweeteners…


Joel Enoch Sports Nutrition InterviewIn addition to Joel’s work as a sports scientist he is also an accomplished triathlete having raced in three European Age Group Championships (2008, 2009, 2010) two World Age Group Championships (2009, 2010), and domestic Elite races including London and Blenheim. His sponsors include Clif Bar (read our Clif Bar review here), 2Pure, Nine Point Nine, claireLOGIC Ltd, Kurt Kinetic, Orca UK, POC Sports and Zoggs. For more information on Joel’s work see


Part Two of our interview with Joel online here.