The link between good health and good nutrition is well established. Interest in nutrition and its impact on sports performance is now a science in itself.
The link between good health and good nutrition is well established. Interest in nutrition and its impact on sports performance is now a science in itself. Whether you are a competitive athlete, a weekend team sportsman or a dedicated practitioner of daily exercise, the basis for improving performance is a nutritionally adequate diet.
The basic training diet should be sufficient to:
Next, we will assess 6 basic tips about sports performance and nutrition:
An athlete's diet should be similar to that recommended for the general public, with energy intake divided into:
Athletes who exercise vigorously for more than 60 to 90 minutes every day may need to increase the amount of energy they get from carbohydrates to 65 to 70 percent. Current recommendations for fat intake are that most athletes follow similar recommendations to those given for the general community, with preference given to fats from olive oils, nuts, avocado, nuts, and seeds. Athletes should also try to minimize the intake of high-fat foods such as cookies, cakes, pastries, potato chips and fried foods.
During digestion, all carbohydrates are broken down into sugar (glucose), which is the body's main source of energy. Glucose can be converted to glycogen and stored in the liver and muscle tissue. It can then be used as a key energy source during exercise to fuel muscle tissue and other body systems. Athletes can increase their glycogen stores by regularly eating foods high in carbohydrates. If carbohydrate intake in the diet is restricted, a person's ability to exercise is compromised because there is not enough glycogen stored to feed the body. This can result in a loss of protein (muscle) tissue, because the body will begin to break down muscle tissue to meet its energy needs and can increase the risk of infection and disease. Carbohydrates are essential for fuel and recovery. Current recommendations for carbohydrate requirements vary depending on the duration, frequency, and intensity of the exercise. Foods rich in unrefined carbohydrates, such as whole grain breads and cereals, should form the basis of the sportsperson's diet. More refined carbohydrate foods (white bread, jams, etc.) are useful in increasing total carbohydrate intake, especially for very active people.
Eating before exercise is an important part of an athlete's preparation before exercise. A high carbohydrate meal three to four hours before exercise is thought to have a positive effect on performance. A small snack one or two hours before exercise can also benefit performance. Some people may experience a negative response when eating near exercise. A meal high in fat or protein is likely to increase the risk of digestive upset. It is recommended that meals just prior to exercise be high in carbohydrates and known not to cause gastrointestinal discomfort. Examples of appropriate meals and snacks before exercise include low-fat cereal and milk, toast, fruit salad and yogurt, pasta with tomato sauce, a low- fat breakfast or a muesli bar.
During exercise that lasts more than 60 minutes, an intake of carbohydrates is required to replenish blood glucose levels and delay fatigue. Current recommendations suggest that 30-60 g of carbohydrates are sufficient. It is important to start the intake at the beginning of exercise and consume regular amounts throughout the exercise period. It is also important to consume fluids regularly during prolonged exercise to avoid dehydration. For people who exercise for more than four hours, it is recommended that they consume up to 90 grams of carbohydrates per hour.
Foods and liquids with carbohydrates should be consumed after exercise, particularly in the first two hours after exercise. To replenish glycogen stores after exercise, carbohydrates with a moderate to high GI should be consumed in the first half hour or so after exercise. This should be continued until a normal eating pattern is resumed. Good choices to start replenishing include sports drinks, juices, cereals and low-fat milk, flavored low-fat milk, sandwiches, pasta, rolls, fruit, and yogurt.
Dehydration can impair athletic performance and, in extreme cases, can lead to collapse and even death. It is very important to drink plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise. Do not wait until you are thirsty. Fluid intake is particularly important for events lasting more than 60 minutes, high intensity or in hot conditions. Water is an adequate drink, but sports drinks may be required, especially in endurance events or in hot weather. Sports drinks contain some sodium, which helps absorption. A sodium content of 30 mmol/L (millimoles per liter) seems adequate in sports nutrition.
Here are some small tips about sports performance and nutrition ... but there are many more. At Ozone by Reebok Functional, the new Reebok Functional centre in Gran Canaria, we have a large team of sports nutrition experts to help you improve your performance, also taking into account such fundamental aspects as sports nutrition. We look forward to seeing you!