Meet XTERRA's Nutrition Expert - Alexandra Borrelly
Alexandra Borrelly Lebrun is a pharmacist and has studied sports nutrition and natural medicine. She works alongside her husband, a former professional XTERRA athlete & 2005 XTERRA World Champ, Nico Lebrun, at Organicoach, where they create optimized nutrition plans for athletes of all levels.
Alexandra takes care of Organicoach athletes and coaches by helping them choose the best food from nature. The Organicoach philosophy is, “Think Green and Stay Fit,” with organic food, natural medicine, and zero chemicals.
Recently we asked her a few questions about what to eat during the summer, how to avoid bonking, and the best pre- and post-race foods. We are thrilled chocolate is on the list!
Q. What should we eat this summer?
A. I'm always a huge fan of the Mediterranean diet, no matter what time of year. It's such a natural way of eating based on the traditional foods that people used to eat in countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea before 1960, when our diets became too heavy in processed foods.
The Mediterranean diet is rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seeds, nuts, olive oil, fish, eggs, and some red meat.
Q. What are the advantages of a Mediterranean diet?
A. Eating local, organic foods means a heavy consumption of vegetables and fruit, olive oil, whole grains, and fish. Dairy, red meat, and wine can be added in small amounts. The Mediterranean diet has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases. Moreover, it was realized that the Mediterranean populations were particularly active. Thanks to the sun, they are often outdoors and regularly practice physical or sporting activities. So for me, it is obvious that if you want to move well, you need a body that can be healthy and efficient, and a Mediterranean diet is perfect for meeting those goals.
Q. Can the fats in a Mediterranean diet help prevent “bonking” in an endurance event?
A. Healthy fats, like almonds and olive oil from first cold pressing can be a good source of energy if you are doing a low-intensity endurance event. Healthy fats conserve the sugar reserves we have in the muscles. When those are depleted, we “bonk.” Healthy fats also protect our intestinal barrier and aid in the anti-inflammatory response.
Q. What is a good pre-race breakfast?
A. It all depends on when you are eating. If you have a minimum of three hours, you can eat eggs with good quality whole grain or gluten-free bread, a banana, and some almonds. If you have less than 3 hours: it is better to avoid eggs and almonds because proteins and fats take longer to digest.The important thing is not to change your habits much on the day of the race. Just like a workout, you must practice your diet and try what works for you.
Q. What is a good post-workout meal, ideal for recovery?
A. You want to eat a varied mixture of vegetables to recharge minerals, whole grains and fruit to recharge the body’s sugars, and fish or eggs to rebuild the muscles. You must also hydrate well! Some great recovery meals include big salads, pizza with goat cheese, pita and hummus, and of course, fresh fruit.
Q. How can an athlete follow a Mediterranean diet while traveling?
A. The most important thing to remember while traveling is to eat lots of fruit and vegetables! It is better to stay simple and to follow the local specialties.This means simple meals, simply prepared, without rich sauces. You can make food taste amazing if you use good quality olive oil, lemon juice, and salt.
The important thing is to eat a lot of vegetables and fruit in the day. In the summer, lunches and dinners can be based around big salads with good quality olive oil, lemon juice and salt. And of course, eat enough whole grains and protein to support your training.
Q. What types of snacks do you recommend?
A. I love snacking! Some of my favorites are: hummus, raw vegetables, fruit, nuts, figs, and dried fruit. And in small quantities, chocolate (70% cocoa) is OK. Life is just better with chocolate!
Q. Can you give a sample of what Nico eats in a day when he is training?
A. Breakfast: eggs, fresh fruit with grated coconut, spelt bread, and almonds
Noon: very large salad with seasonal vegetables and small fish (sardines, mackerel or herring)
Evening: Vegetables, brown rice, and lentils