The foundation of a Sportsperson’s performance is greatly determined by the nutrition lifestyle.
As a sportsperson, it is important that you incorporate a comprehensive diet plan that matches the physical demands of sports activities. A good balanced diet ensures that you have the right amount of energy to prepare, participate in, finish, and recover from a sports activity. It ensures that you consume the right amounts of calories, carbohydrates, fluids, proteins, vitamins, and minerals, which generates the energy you need to boost your performance, improve your concentration, and accelerate muscle energy.
Understanding the composition of the diet you should adopt as a sportsperson is key in achieving this balance.
The type of sport activity, the amount of training you do and the amount of time you spend doing the activity or exercise, are also factors to consider when choosing a diet plan.
The recommended energy intake breakdown for a sportsperson is 45 to 65% from carbohydrates, 15 to 25% from proteins and 20 to 35% from fat.
Carbohydrates are vital macronutrients for any sportsperson as they are used as the key energy source for your body. Consuming carbohydrates before, during and after a sport activity ensures that your body has a constant supply of glycogen, which translates to a constant supply of energy. The proper amount of carbs can also help modify hormone balance to enhance performance. Hormones, such as insulin and cortisol which help in muscle building are affected by carbohydrates.
Proteins are important for providing your body with the necessary amount of amino acids to help build and repair muscles and tissues and transporting molecules and for our body’s defenses. When more protein is being generated than degraded, more lean muscle mass will be developed, resulting in an enhanced sportsperson’s performance.
Fats are essential to maintain bodily processes, such as hormone metabolism. Studies have shown that hormones like testosterone play a major role in muscle development, as well as performance and its levels are affected greatly by fats. As a sportsperson, your body needs fat not just for energy supply but also to protect your organs from injury. Fat is necessary in order to absorb fat-soluble vitamins and contains essential fatty acids which are necessary for the production of hormones and the building of cell walls.
Fluid intake before, during and after sports activities is key at ensuring you remain hydrated as a sportsperson. Dehydration can impair athletic performance and, in extreme cases, may lead to collapse and even death. Hydration is particularly important for events lasting more than 60 minutes, of high intensity or in warm environments.
As a sportsperson, your performance during sports activities is determined by the amount of preparation you do, and the same principle applies to your nutrition. To achieve a long-term and sustainable nutrition lifestyle that contributes to your optimum performance as a sportsperson, you must start today.
See you next time, as we unpack ‘Pre event meal basics’.
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By Eunice Nthenya,
Certified Nutritionist, Nutrition By Nthenya