I have lived and trained as ultra-distance athlete for more than 10 years. During this time, I have struggled to balance my busy work life (as a corporate attorney, and later an advocate) with a stringent training regime, with the result that I often fueled my running with “healthy” ready-meals, protein-shakes, sugary drinks and coffee. The more I ran and the harder I trained, the less sustainable this kind of eating regime became.

In 2016, I finally committed to pursuing my athletics dreams. I signed up with a coach, notorious for his hardcore training methods, and was quickly put on a performance-focused diet in which fat was banned, carbs were restricted and my primary source of nutrients became lean protein, including copious amounts of whey protein. Eating ceased to be enjoyable, food was simply fuel for my training; a toxic mindset that resulted in my cutting meals when my training hadn’t gone exactly to plan.

Following this trend, it wasn’t very long before my body entered a state known as “low energy availability” (i.e. a state of chronic calorie deficit) and thereafter RED-S (relative energy deficiency in sports). This resulted in my developing a stress fracture in my spine, chronic gut distress, inhibited thyroid function, depression, interrupted menstruation and, eventually, burnout… just in time for the 2019 Comrades Marathon.

David and Ann Ashworth

While working with biokineticist Tim Pearson to rehabilitate my back and a separately fractured fibula, Tim recommended that I start seeing Christine Rice, a registered dietitian based in Sunninghill, Johannesburg. By then it was clear that unless I allowed my body to heal and started fuelling it effectively, my running career would soon be over.

Christine Rice has helped me regain a healthy relationship with my food and has shown me that if I focus on eating whole foods, healthy fats, adequate carbs and lean protein or protein alternatives, my body has everything it needs to perform at its best. Acutely aware that many athletes, men and women alike, fail to appreciate the importance of balanced eating and the incorporation of nourishing meals into their diets (as opposed to simply topping up on supplements), Christine and I decided to launch athlEAT™; a sports nutrition and eating plan specifically geared to assist people just like me: hectically busy, time-sensitive, “hangry” athletes.

athlEAT™ aims to provide you with an athlete-appropriate weekly eating plan, as well as balanced dietary and supplement advice, to ensure you’re taking in everything you need to thrive. We’ll also share with you our favourite recipes, food pairings and snack options to keep you focused on your performance goals throughout the week.

athlEAT™ aims to save you time in the kitchen without sacrificing your high-performance nutrition.  athlEAT™: you are what you eat!