Sports Performance Tips From The Nutritionist
For any sports person undergoing an exercise regime, a higher energy requirement is needed than a sedentary person—so meeting the right energy requirement is paramount to success! Sports also creates an excellent starting point to resolve any deficiencies that may lead to a lack of energy.
Improve Sports Performance
A better blood supply to the muscles enables nutrients and oxygen to be delivered quickly to where they are needed, thus increasing energy levels and well-being. As such, maintaining a constant supply of nutrients helps fight fatigue, improves stamina and minimizes muscle breakdown.
Aim to eat 5-6 small meals a day and choose foods with complex carbohydrates (bananas, beans, chickpeas, lentils, nuts, oats, sweet corn and whole grain products) whenever you can. This help to reduce fluctuation in blood sugar levels. The intake of energy drinks which contain complex carbohydrates (not sugar or artificial sweetener) provides a sustained supply of energy. Energy drinks also help delay feelings of fatigue when exercising, given their supply of useful electrolyte minerals (potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium) to replace those lost in sweat.
Increasing strength and boost power can only work if the diet supplies all the nutrients that the muscles need to grow and function properly. During this time, the body's requirements for good quality protein and energy-dense macro-nutrients and good fats (oily fish, olive oil and grape seed oil) play a vital part in maintaining cell membranes, production of hormones and provide energy.
A pre-sport meal to fuel the training, enough amount of carbohydrates is needed.
E.g. 5-7h per week activity level requires 5-6g carb/kg/body weight/day.
The amount of protein the muscles absorb during pre-workout is also crucial for fast recovery and muscles contraction to maintain power output during intense exercises.
Protein requirement: 1.2-1.8g protein per/kg/body weight, depending on the strength needed.
During sporting activities, the body will be subject to large energy demands, dehydration, muscle damage, free radical damage and reduced immunity. Drink plenty of water to keep hydrated as well as keep those energy levels up. If you are thirsty, this could be a key sign that you are already dehydrated. Being dehydrated even just a little can cause a major decline in performance. A key way to check is:
Urine is yellow = Dehydrated
Urine is clear/light color = Hydrated
Energy recovery meal is also the most important meal of the day. After intense exercising, our body starts depleting muscle glycogen that creates energy. A quick digestible carb (whole meal pasta/bread, oats, energy drink) together with a quick protein (fish, lean cuts of red meat/chicken/eggs/dairy/soya, whey/rice/pea protein powder) post-workout meal will jump start the muscle repair and shuttle nutrients into the muscle cells.
Depending on what sport you participate in, there are also other supplements which can aid to boost performance, though it can be hard to know what to take and the best time to take it. You can find out more with a one-to-one nutritional consultation with a nutritionist who can help to select the best supplements for you.