Athletes often spend a small fortune on sporting equipment & devote countless hours to rigorous training sessions, but tend to be unaware that getting their nutrition right is equally important. This is especially true with regard to endurance exercise.
It is easy to become confused by the conflicting information that we read online or in books & magazines as well as what our friends recommend. Athletes sometimes rely on nutrition advice provided by other well-meaning athletes, or they follow a nutrition plan that is set out for someone else. Unfortunately this can be counter-productive, resulting in fatigue, gastrointestinal issues, muscle cramps or sub-optimal performance.
Nutrition is fundamental to peak sporting performance, & good health. Every cell in our bodies needs nutrients to function effectively. The right nutrition will improve our energy levels & enable us to train harder & recover more quickly. Good nutrition can also help to enhance immune function which results in missing fewer training sessions through illness. This of course, translates into improved sporting performance.
Most people are aware that athletes have increased requirements for carbohydrate & protein, & that it is important to consume adequate amounts of essential fatty acids from foods such as nuts, seeds, olive oil, avocado & oily fish. The timing of both protein & carbohydrate is crucial to recovery, especially for athletes who train more than once per day, or who participate in endurance exercise or high intensity sessions. Athletes are often advised to consume a small serve of protein-rich food at each meal & snack throughout the day. This is because recent research has shown that the maximum amount of protein that can be synthesised at one time is around 20-25g. This amount can be found in 65g of lean meat/chicken or a ham & cheese sandwich (containing 40g ham & 20g cheese) or 375ml chocolate milk. Interestingly, female athletes have protein requirements that are approximately 15% lower than male athletes.
Although we have known since the 1980’s that carbohydrate ingestion during exercise can improve endurance performance, it is only in the last 10 years that we have started to gain a better understanding of the optimal amounts & types of carbohydrates to ingest before, during & after exercise. Total daily carbohydrate recommendations for athletes range from 5-10g per kg of body weight, depending on the type & length of exercise that is undertaken.
But, it’s not just about consuming the ideal proportion of macronutrients. Our intake of vitamins, minerals, trace elements, antioxidants, resistant starch, prebiotics, probiotics & a variety of other compounds is hugely important to good health & vitality. Phytonutrients are found in certain fruit & vegetables, wholegrains & herbs. They have numerous health benefits such as reducing inflammation, boosting immunity, balancing our gut bacteria, fighting cancer, reducing the risk of heart disease, & soaking up free radicals that can contribute to a variety of chronic health problems.
There are as number of other factors that can impact on our performance. These include ergogenic aids such as nitrates & caffeine. The amount of sodium consumed during endurance exercise is also very important.
In Australia, an Accredited Sports Dietitian is regarded as the most qualified person to see for sports nutrition advice. If you would like individualised advice regarding nutrition strategies to enhance sporting performance & help you gain a competitive edge, why not make an appointment to see an Accredited Sports Dietitian.
Accredited Practising Dietitian – Accredited Nutritionist – Accredited Sports Dietitian – Personal Trainer
Master of Science (Nutrition & Dietetics); Grad Dip (Human Nutrition); Grad Cert (Diab); B.A.
Cert 111 & 1V in Fitness
www.coffscoastnutrition.com.au Ph: (02) 6652 7529