Whether it is working out to lose weight, training towards a marathon or playing team sport, keeping your body fuelled is a vital part of producing the best results.
And when it comes to understanding the science behind eating healthily and nutritionally to support an active lifestyle, not many people have more expertise than University of Bath-based sports nutritionist Renee McGregor.
During her 12 years as a registered dietician she has worked extensively with athletes across a variety of sports and abilities, including the London 2012 Olympic rhythmic gymnastics squad and members of the British Swimming team.
Now she is sharing that knowledge after writing her first book, Training Food. Released last week by Watkins Publishing, it is already the number one bestselling training and coaching title on Amazon.
“They have sold out twice already, which is amazing,” said Renee, who works as Sports Science and Medicine manager in the university’s Sports Injury Clinic and Human Performance Centre.
“I’d not done a book before but I write blogs and articles, bits and pieces here and there, and the commissioning editor at Watkins had followed what I was doing.
“They had this concept of a sports nutrition book with practical recipes and had contacted several people but not found the right one, so they got in touch and said they liked my style of writing and how I made it practical.
“Then they asked if I’d like to write a book. To be completely honest I thought it was a hoax so I didn’t respond to the email but when they wrote to me again, I checked out the company and thought ‘oh my God, these are proper!’.
“I went to London to meet them all and literally within an hour of brainstorming ideas we knew we had something pretty good.”
That was back in January 2014 and after more than a year of juggling her career, her family life – she is married with two daughters – and her long-distance running training, Renee’s book has finally come to fruition.
It is split into three parts, starting with the science behind sports nutrition and the importance of refuelling before, during and after exercise.
She then looks at different sports and provides practical meal plans for each before finishing with a healthy and nutritional recipe section.
“There are even recipes for desserts like sweet potato brownies,” said Renee. “They are so easy to do and so popular – I’m even contemplating making a few and selling them!
“The book is about meeting your performance goals, whatever they are – whether you are running your first 5k or your third ironman, losing weight or delving into open-water swimming. It is a complete guide to training and anyone can pick it up and learn from it.
“There are lots of books on sports nutrition but I don’t think anyone has gone into detail before about why it is so important. A lot of the other books are written by people who are active and have come up with their own ideas about recipes, rather than a practitioner working with athletes and understanding the fundamentals behind that science. It is unique in that way.
“A lot of people think because they have been running they can eat a piece of cake. Some people can get away with that but if you really want to reach your goals it’s about making sure you eat what you need and when you need it.”
The book had its official launch at Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath last week – an occasion Renee admits was ‘really overwhelming’.
“I got very choked by the amount of people who turned up,” she said.
“It wasn’t just friends either, there were people there who wanted the book and had come especially. I had more of that when I went to the London Marathon Expo on Saturday.
“It was just wonderful and really nice to be able to talk to people about their goals. I’ve just been blown away by the response, I haven’t had to give it the hard sell at all. It’s been really exciting.”
Renee had been planning to run the Virgin London Marathon on Sunday but is instead focusing her training on two other forthcoming races – the European Uphill Trials in the Lake District and Trail Marathon Wales in Snowdonia.
But along with her running and work at the University of Bath, could Renee now have a blossoming writing career?
“I would like to do another book if the opportunity was there,” she said. “The CEO of the book company has lots of ideas for follow-ups so who knows? Maybe I’ll just become an author!”
Training Food is available from Amazon, Waterstone’s and independent bookstores in Bath. It will also be on sale in the Team Bath Store soon.
Renee is available for appointments at the Sports Training Village. Call the Sports Injury Clinic reception on 01225 383636 to book.