Food should be enjoyed and is an essential part of our existence. We all know that eating clean and healthy foods is beneficial to us and making sensible nutrition choices not only helps the body function but also reduces the risk of many health related illnesses.
Clean foods should be your “go to” options for a majority of the time. By this I mean buying, cooking and eating fresh, natural and unprocessed foods. Basically if it is on a shelf, pre packaged and all you need to do is warm it up for 3 minutes then it won’t be the best choice. Don’t be confused by the reduced fat, low sugar labels that you may see on the packet. These foods will still be full of additives, preservatives, salt and who knows what else. The more ingredients on the label the less natural it is. Take a look at things like porridge, the ingredients are oats. An apple is an apple and so on. All these foods are healthy and this is what your main nutritional choices should be.
From a sports performance point of view the nutritional choices you make will play a huge part in your training, race day, injury prevention and your recovery. Making the right choices at the right time is key. How we fuel for this with both foods and fluids should be looked at and is as important as the training programmes that you follow. Making the wrong choices for instance, when building up to a race can mean the difference between finishing strong or just finishing, or in a worse case scenario that dreaded DNF or injury. One of the major points relating to performance nutrition strategies is injury prevention. Fatigue is a natural occurrence for any athlete during training or competition. As an athlete fatigues the risk of injury increases. If we are able to delay the onset of fatigue this risk of injury is reduced. Nutrition certainly plays its part in this. Nutrient requirement is broken down into Macronutrients and Micronutrients. Macronutrients are Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats. The body requires a greater quantity of these. Micronutrients are made up of vitamins and minerals and the body requires a smaller quantity of these. Both are equally important for body function and sports performance.
Carbohydrates Athletes typically train and compete above 65% of their Vo2 max. At this intensity carbohydrate is the main source of fuel for the body. This is broken down and then stored as glycogen. By ensuring the athlete has enough carbohydrates in their body they will sustain exercise for longer and delay the onset of fatigue caused by glycogen depletion. Good sources of carbohydrate are Oats, Honey, Rice and Pasta, Potato and Quinoa to name a few. Protein Is required by the body for growth and maintenance of body tissue, especially muscle. Building antibodies. Maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance and repairing exercise associated muscle damage. Good sources of protein are Meat, Poultry, Fish, Eggs, Beans, Quinoa and Nuts. Fats These have several essential functions within the body. One of these is serving as an energy source. Fats also play an important role in the structure and function of the nervous system, production of hormones, maintenance of body temperature and protect the vital organs. Good sources of fats are Dairy Products, Nuts, Nuts and Seeds, Meat, Poultry, Olive Oil, Coconut Oil and Fish Oil. Micronutrients Vitamins and Minerals play a key role in energy metabolism, bone health, immune function and oxidative damage to name a few. A well balanced diet that includes grains, meat, poultry, fish and vegetables should provide most go the micronutrients required. Hydration If not done right then poor hydration can effect strength, power and endurance for any athlete so should not be overlooked. Correct hydration for your training and competition will help maintain performance. With hydration, like food I am in the keep it natural corner. Water is great and in most situations will be adequate enough. For more endurance based exercise it would be worth having an isotonic or electrolyte formula also to help replace salts and minerals that are lost through sweat. More personalised nutrition and hydration advice is available to you once you become a Komplete Performance Athlete.