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. In order to know what questions you should ask a sports nutritionist it is important to firstly know what a sports nutritionist is. A sports nutritionist advises on nutritional information and nutritional services to mainly athletes or anyone that is interested in reaching optimal performance. They are able to make tailored plans for each and every individual so that they can develop the best eating habits for themselves. Sports nutritionists can design menus as well as recommend vitamins and supplements that are able to benefit the individual. Sports nutritionists can also work in research and development, where they can put together different studies and make recommendations to companies as to what they should be including in their products and in the correct quantities. In this article we are going to focus on commonly asked questions that sports nutritionists often have to answer along with a brief answer for each. These five questions are; How many calories do I need a day? Should I take extra vitamins and minerals? How does an athlete know how much protein to consume? Should I avoid eating fat? How much carbohydrate should I consume?
How many calories do I need a day?
This depends on many factors for example age, size, physical activity, whether you are competing amongst many other factors. It is commonly known that women typically need 2000 calories a day and men typically need 2500 calories a day, however, this can change substantially if you are partaking in heavy physical activity. For Example, depending on your weight, a 5 mile run can typically burn between 500-800 calories. If the person of interest is not interested in losing any more weight, than this will have to be compensated for nutritionally so their daily calorie intake might have to increase by 500-800 calories. If the person of interest is looking to lose weight than it may be worth not making up the extra calories as they would want to be in a calorie deficit, however, if an individual cuts their calories too quickly than this may also slow down metabolism. Metabolism is a key factor as someone with slower metabolism may need less calories depending on how active they are throughout the day, unfortunately metabolism does slow with age, some more than others.
Should I take extra vitamins and minerals?
Generally, most people have a deficiency in their diet so the answer would be yes for most people. A sports nutritionist may ask you to make a food diary of all the things you would eat in a typical week and in what quantities. From here they could then make a valid assessment as to what is missing from your diet. The first suggestion could be to change the type of foods you are eating, but this method does not always work. For example, a vegan that would be lacking B12 would probably not agree to add meat to their diet in order to increase their B12 amount, so in this instance a B12 supplement would suffice. An individual may also be asked to take a blood test to see how deficient they are. It is safe to assume that in the UK most of us would be deficient in vitamin D, however, only a blood test could determine how deficient we actually are and therefore some of us would require higher doses of vitamin D than others.
How does an athlete know how much protein to consume?
At the moment it is recommended that protein intake should be 1 to 2 grams per kilogram of body weight. It is important not to consume this amount in a single meal however. For optimal absorption, it is normally recommended to have between 25 and 30g of protein per meal. To make this easier, let’s say for example that I weighed 100kg. I would require 1 gram of protein per kg so that would mean I would require 100g. I would divide 100g by 25 to get 4. This would mean that I could consume 25g of protein at 4 different points throughout the day, this could be in the form of snacks, main meals and supplementation. For athletes that would be training maybe two to three times a day, their protein supplementation would be near the 2 gram mark and they would obviously have to consume a lot more. The sports nutritionist would examine the athletes’ physical demands and make sure they have the nutrition to match.
Should I avoid eating fat?
In short, the answer is no. Most athletes would actually ensure that 35% of their total daily calorie intake is from fat. Again, as with protein, this is spread across different meals and the quantities are determined by the activities for that day. For example, slightly more fat would be consumed pre-workout as fat is a very important energy substrate. As with most things in life, too much fat is not good and can increase overall cholesterol that can eventually lead to heart problems later on in life. The energy from fat allow the body to utilise this instead of using up muscle and liver glycogen storage which in turn can increase endurance. If endurance increases then you can train longer and harder therefore increasing overall fitness too.
How much carbohydrate should I consume?
This all depends on how active you are as it can range greatly from 3g/kg/day for a fairly sedentary day all the way to 12g/kg/day for high intensity activity. However the type of carbohydrates consumed is an important factor to consider. Refined carbohydrates such as sugars and highly processed gains cause a rapid rise in insulin which will move sugar from the blood into cells. If high levels of sugar are consumed than the cells can no longer hold all this sugar and it is therefore converted to fat. A lot of athletes find it advantageous to consume carbohydrates during or just after a workout so that the body is able to use the energy from this and therefore prevent conversion to fat.