What is the importance of nutrition in sports?

Posted by Sayful-L-Islam Khan on

Products that a sports nutritionist can recommend are featured on www.nutracity.co.uk as we are a sports nutrition store and we do stock vitamins and supplements as part of our sports nutrition products UK line. Nutrition is a key part of sports as it affects performance. Especially at a competitive level, where all the athletes are in great shape, nutrition is a key factor to getting the most out of your body. Key factors in nutrition include fluid intake, calories, carbohydrate, protein and fat intake, as well as vitamins and supplementation. These factors are also affected by the type of sport, the amount of calories used in training and how long you are training for. Carbohydrates provide energy during exercise and stored mostly in the muscles and the liver. Complex carbohydrates consist of long, complex chains of sugar molecules and are found in foods such as wholemeal bread and other grains, legumes e.g. peas and other vegetables. Complex carbohydrates provide vitamins, minerals and fibre and are a much better form of carbohydrates than refined sugars. Examples of refined sugars are cookies, cakes and pastries, these are often referred to as empty calories as they have no nutritional value and can cause us harm in the long-run.

Protein is important for muscle growth and tissue repair. It is important not to increase protein intake more than what is required as unused protein will be converted to fat, however the timing of the consumption of protein is especially important for sports. Benefits in retaining muscle mass whilst losing weight were seen when protein is consumed straight after a workout, for myself personally I’ve noticed maximum benefits from consuming a protein shake during my workout, I also noticed a huge reduction in muscle soreness. It is a myth that more protein automatically increases muscle growth, rather protein helps with repair therefore enabling you to train more often and train harder, this is what leads to muscle growth.

Water is another key nutrient when training or partaking in sports. The body can lose litres of water in sweat during vigorous exercise, so it is essential that this is made up by consuming more water before, during and after exercise. After exercise it is also essential to top up your electrolytes as not doing so can lead to dehydration. Fat is a primary source of fuel for light to moderate intensity exercise. It is especially useful when an athlete or an individual has achieved metabolic efficiency. This often happens when an athlete has become so good at their sport or training that they are able to maintain the same level of work at the same speed but at a lower intensity. At a lower intensity the fat that is stored in the muscle becomes a source of energy. Fat is available in many foods that we eat for example dairy (cheese, milk and yoghurt), meat, fish, nuts, avocados and processed foods as well as oils.

A common mistake that athletes make is to not eat before a workout. It is recommended to have something small but with high carbohydrates, that way you only need to eat 30-60 minutes before you start your workout. A higher protein intake before your workout would mean that you would have to wait longer before you work out because gastric emptying of protein takes longer than carbohydrates. Another aspect of nutrition is the consumption of superfoods. This is actually something we do stock at www.nutracity.co.uk These foods are filled with antioxidants which help to rid the body of free radicals and therefore help to prevent illness. Multivitamins are also a good general way to ensure that your RDA’s (Recommended Daily Allowance) for all essential vitamins and minerals are being met. A lot of top multivitamins are also stocked at www.nutracity.co.uk Also, a strong gut biome is another essential requirement for a lot of athletes and therefore supplementation with a good probiotic is recommended, this is also available at www.nutracity.co.uk Use the search icon on the home page to look for specific products, or the use the categories on the left hand side to browse through many products. If you have any queries for any products feel free to use the chat feature on the bottom right to speak to one of our on-demand pharmacists.

In this article, it is important to note that the information provided is not just for those who are athletes by profession. It can be for anyone who is into general fitness and wellbeing. Unfortunately, not all of us can commit to training full time as we all have other jobs to fulfil in order to pay for our living expenses, but this is why it is even more important to get our nutrition right as we do not have enough time to train two to three times a day. Also, with a busy lifestyle we may choose to eat less nutritional meals as it is more ‘convenient’ and less time-consuming. It is in this scenario that we have to bridge this gap with the right vitamin and mineral supplementation. It is also important to note that we all metabolise different foods in different ways. There are those that can eat a lot more carbohydrates than others and not put on as much weight, others are better at digesting protein. Just make sure that you are aware of your own strength and limitations and make sure your diet matches.

So to sum up, nutrition is very important for sports and any sporting activities. Not only is it important to have a balanced diet, but the timing of nutrients is very important, i.e. the type of nutrient consumed, before, during and after a workout and the types of nutrients consumed on ‘rest’ days as well. It is also essential to notice and acknowledge any gaps in your diet and then try to fulfil these gaps with the right vitamins and minerals via supplementation. It is very important to utilise resources such as www.nutracity.co.uk as they have the necessary vitamins and minerals as well as the pharmacists on-board to check for safety.