QA with Health and Performance Nutritionist Kate McDaid on Body Positivity
Q: Kate, what does the term ‘body positivity’ mean to you?
A: As a health and performance nutritionist, it’s really important to me that those I work with feel confident in their own skin. There are many elements that contribute to this like our feelings of overall wellbeing, where we place importance and indeed our relationship with food for example. Depending on your performance goals, health or lifestyle, body composition may need to be adjusted to support you further but overall, body positivity is getting to a place where you feel comfortable internally and externally and where outside opinion, like those on social media by way of example, doesn’t shape your own view. It’s a destination where the framework in your life supports your happiness, health and performance all of which can be transient and shaped by where you are at that moment.
Q: You referenced social media briefly and now that we are coming into summer, the pressure for what is commonly referred to as the ‘beach body’ is already beginning online. As a brand, we decided to launch the ‘Whatever the Season, Know Your Reason’ campaign to rebel against the idea of focusing on aesthetic results when how you feel and perform matters so much more. What are your thoughts on this rather unrealistic ‘beach body’ narrative?
A: I really like this Kinetica campaign because it addresses the importance of aligning our feelings and beliefs of wellbeing and performance with our aesthetic goals. It encourages us to look at the bigger picture. Too often the importance is placed on the latter and in a manner that is extreme. This narrative
creates an ideal that has little context and is extremely subjective. I don’t think there is anything wrong with challenging yourself but the lines become blurred when the ‘why’ behind our goals isn’t understood or is driven by others. If your goals and the process of achieving those goals leaves very little room for those you care about, activities you enjoy and indeed pleasure, I would start questioning just how beneficial they truly are for you and how much they’re really adding to your life. Reality and aspiration can be two very different things and there is nothing wrong with adjusting your targets as you start to understand that more. Focus on the longer term, maintainability and achieving something that will stand to your overall lifestyle and needs. Change can be difficult and there is nothing wrong with moving at your own pace on this front irrespective of the goal.
Q: We couldn’t agree more. We feel that education is the key to empowering people to make the right choices for them. As we look to hopefully a hot summer ahead, what nutrition advice would you give to people who may be breaking out the bike, attempting their first trail run or even for the more experienced endurance athletes?
A: Hydration is a big one.; an easy win that not all of us tend to be on top of. As the weather gets warmer, our fluid intake will need to increase, the same is true when our exercise load and the duration of it is greater. When we exercise, we sweat and as a result we lose fluid and indeed electrolytes so in cases where you’re exercising for prolonged periods of time or you’re struggling to rehydrate, electrolytes can be a really useful addition to your water. A good rule of thumb is to keep track of your urine and its colour. A pale yellow/ clear colour is a signal that you’re adequately hydrated, this is the aim before you do any exercise. Dehydration can impair performance but also increase our rate of perceived exertion. This means that exercise will feel more difficult. If you’re starting out with any new form of exercise or you’re looking to push your own boundaries, chances are, the challenge will be difficult enough, let’s not add to that burden further! Staying adequately hydrated throughout training is an objective to go after and as mentioned, hydration is an important part of recovery so don’t forget about your fluid intake post exercise as well.
It’s important to recognise that energy needs will increase the more active you are, this can be shaped however by your goals but to optimise performance we should aim to match your energy intake with your energy demands. Protein and carbohydrates (don’t forget fluid too) play a role in recovery and they’ll also play a role in your preparation so they should feature either side of training. The greater the training load and the greater its intensity, the greater your carbohydrate needs will be.
If you struggle to eat after training due to the its exertion or because it’s quite late, meeting your needs through fluids can be a convenient option. Kinetica’s whey protein (their powder or the ready to drink milkshake option) is a great option to add to a homemade smoothie to bump up protein intake or their Kinetica Recovery powder could be useful too as it contains a 2:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio.
As is dotted throughout my advice, I think it’s really important that you acknowledge your own needs and what is adding or subtracting from your performance and enjoyment each day. The more self-aware we are, the better we can support our potential.
About the Author
Kate McDaid is a Kinetica Ambassador, a health and performance nutritionist and founder of NutriKate, a high-performance nutrition consultancy based in Dublin. Having played and captained the Irish Basketball team, the importance of nutrition became apparent to Kate at a young age and a true passion for this area blossomed.
Kate followed her ambition and completed a masters in Sport and Exercise Nutrition at Loughborough University. Kate secured a role, advancing to senior health and performance nutritionist in a leading nutrition consultancy in the UK. Here she was able to build an extensive portfolio working with professional sports teams, elite sporting scholars, corporate clients, charity organisations, weight-loss, and health seeking individuals.
Kate returned to Ireland in 2017 with this experience and founded NutriKate. The NutriKate team works with an array of clients; athletes, teams and individuals looking to improve their health, performance, or body composition. They deliver nutritional workshops, seminars and support to corporate entities and sports clubs around the country too.
The NutriKate team works with Dublin GAA, Longford GAA, Motorsport Ireland, Basketball Ireland, Shelbourne Football Club Academy, Maynooth University and Trinity College Dublin to name but a few. Kate and her team strive to cut through the nonsense and deliver advice and content that holds truth, practicality and is backed by the latest scientific research.