Sports nutrition is the study and practice of improving an athletes’ performance through nutrition and diet.
Nutrition is an important factor in the overall training regime of almost every athlete. Nutritional intake can be different for each type of sport and research has been done, and is still ongoing, to always improve an athlete’s or competitor’s performance.
Factors that can Influence your Nutritional Requirements when practising sports
The sport you play will dictate what kind of nutritional plan will be best for you. Different sports require different energy intakes.
The time of your sports season; off-season, midseason or peak-season will influence your intake and type of food. Midseason can require more recovery foods, where off-season will call for a higher protein intake because of strength training.
What you eat, before, during and after games, performances or matches is very important. Pre-game you need to fuel up to keep blood sugar levels balanced. Mid-game nutrition will also vary depending on your sport. Drinks with high electrolytes, sodium and fast acting carbohydrates will be efficient.
Post-game nutrition could be the most important. Your recovery and long-term success can depend on what you consume afterwards. Fast food does not fall in the recovery nutrient bracket, and can actually cause more soreness and inflammation. A high-quality protein shake will be a good choice.
Athletes need more calories because they burn more calories during practice and performances. Athletes need a good quality of food that needs to hold nutritional value.
Every meal should have 1 to 2 servings of lean protein, 1 to 2 servings of healthy fat, and 1 serving of either a colourful vegetable or a fruit. At least 2 of the daily meals should include a slow-digesting, high fibre carbohydrate, like brown rice, lentils or wholegrain bread.
When it is not possible to expect to have a proper meal, always choose real food in the convenience store, not the food that claims to be sports drinks or sports bars. Health bars and whole grain alternatives will be good choices. A bag of trail mix is a better choice than a bag of chips.