Nutrients to Calories
Getting what you need from your diet is important for everyone. And what you need, from nutrients to calories, varies depending on your activity level. This where the import role of sports nutrition comes into play.
Physical activity uses more calories to make muscles work and cope with an increase in heart and breathing rates. This is one of the reasons professional athletes will take advice from a qualified sports nutritionist to maximise their health and performance. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t consider your diet if you’re taking part in sports and exercise on a more recreational level. You need to ensure that your diet is providing you with enough energy and supporting your recovery. And it’s not just what; when you eat it can be important too.
Benefits of eating well
Many areas of sports nutrition overlap with common-sense advice for a healthy diet. Eating a varied and well-balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables is pretty standard. But sports nutrition goes beyond this to look at how diet can be balanced with the demands you are making on your body. This includes fuelling up by eating the right amount of carbohydrates based on body weight, activity and the amount of training time.
But what about extra protein you ask? Protein requirements for strength and endurance athletes are only slightly higher than the rest of us and can usually be obtained via that varied and well-balanced diet. However, there is some evidence that eating protein directly after a workout can help with those sore muscles and aid recovery.
Which raises another point about sports nutrition. Eating the right thing at the right time matters. Skipping meals isn’t going to work and eating regularly in line with your activities does.
Other factors to consider are fluids and supplements. Staying hydrated is important for everyone but if you’re working out regularly then it contributes to maintaining your performance. NHS recommendations are that if you’re exercising for over an hour you should consume something with carbohydrates and electrolytes like an isotonic sports drink, as well as water.
So when you planning exercise take the time to think about what you’ll be eating. Make your meals, snacks and drinks support and enhance your workout.