August 31, 2011

Sports Nutrition & Supplements

Sports Nutrition & dietary supplements all have a function in the development and maintenance of your goals as an athlete.

I have found the following advice to be a good guide in general to what you should be trying to achieve by managing your nutrition. There is no point taking sports nutrition products and supplements simply for the sake of taking them. There has to be a purpose and plan behind it.

Sports nutrition is a branch of dietary research that is applied specifically to individuals who participate in rigorous sports training. This includes everything from strength training like weight lifting and bodybuilding to endurance training like cycling and running. No matter what type of sports you enjoy, it remains important to supply your body with the nutrients it needs to function optimally. There are many variables that set athletes apart, but correct nutrition and the right combination of sports supplements can constitute the difference between winning and coming second.

The main goals of sports nutrition can be summed up as follows:
  • To prepare athletes for performance or extended periods of training.
  • To maintain a certain level of performance or training.
  • To aid the body in recovering from performance or training.
  • To maintain a certain body aesthetic or weight. This is important in sports like bodybuilding, horse racing and cycling.
A balanced diet that consists of the correct ratio of carbohydrates, proteins and fats is indispensible, as is the intake of both micro- and macro nutrients. This, however, may not be enough. Heavy training depletes the body of vital nutrients much in the same way as illness does and in order to replenish these stores, it may become necessary to take some sports supplements. Natural supplements have come a long way and there are various products on the market today that provide comprehensive nutritional solutions.

It is important to remember that each individual is unique and will respond differently to sport supplements. The most crucial performance-enhancing factor in any athlete’s bag of tricks remains sports-specific nutrition and a complementary training regime. As consumers, we are regularly bombarded by print and audiovisual advertisements punting a new ‘miracle’ solution to weight loss or muscle growth. This can be very confusing. Should you be taking creatine, protein supplements, minerals or vitamins? Should you be focused on muscle growth or boosting your metabolic rate? HMB, DHEA, Glutamine - which one of these is the right option for you?

The best way to answer these questions is to consult your trainer or physician. Sports supplements can be a matter of great contention, especially for professional athletes who have to consider whether certain substances are legal or not. Protein, however, has been linked with sports performance for decades and constitutes a safe way to supplement your nutritional intake.

There are various factors that influence an athlete’s protein requirements. These include:
  • The intensity of the type of exercise the athlete engages in. The more intense the exercise, the more protein is required.
  • The length of training sessions and events. The longer the exertion period, the greater the protein requirement.
  • The energy content of the athlete’s diet. Certain types of athletes (dancers, light weight wrestlers and gymnasts) keep their body weight down by restricting the amount of kilojoules they consume. These athletes, as well as those who follow a vegetarian diet, should make sure to supplement their protein intake.
  • Gender. The male body burns fat easily, while the female body normally turns to protein and carbohydrates. This means that the fairer sex should take care when replenishing their protein stores during training.

These are just some of the factors that influence protein requirement. For a more comprehensive assessment, schedule a visit with a registered dietician. 

Proper sports nutrition is a fantastic way to improve your game and natural supplements can be a great help. Approach your diet with care and you will certainly begin to see the benefits.

Working from this premise and applying a bit of thought and self control to your daily intake you can easily manage you weight, provide enough key elements for effective training and still be able to take the odd evening off to spoil yourself. 

One of the fantastic side effects of triathlon training is the amount of calories you burn pretty much allows you to let your hair down every now and again. With an estimated 5-6000kcal going to be burned on Sunday there will be alot of replenishment required.

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