Sports and exercise nutrition
Diet and nutrition are not only important factors in maintaining general health, but are also important in ensuring we can undertake sports and exercise in a way that we are able to perform to our best and recover quickly.
Key considerations for sports and exercise nutrition are:
1. Energy intake – unsurprisingly the amount of energy we expect to get out of our bodies per day (calories or kilojoules) needs to at least equal the amount of energy we put into our bodies. Energy is sourced from the fat, protein and carbohydrate in our diet. It is surprising however, to be reminded that it would take 60 minutes of jogging to burn off the energy provided in one blueberry muffin! Planning your sports nutrition is a key to improved performance.
2. Rate of energy release – carbohydrates in the form of sugars are rapidly converted to energy that the body can use for exercise and sports, whereas carbohydrates such as starches take longer, proteins even longer and fat the longest to be converted to energy. Nutrition decisions should be based on your sporting needs.
3. Balanced energy sources – the ideal nutrition ratio of sources of energy from diet are carbohydrate 55%:fat 30%:protein 15%. This assists with maximum performance in sports. Balancing your energy sources is vital to good sports nutrition.
4. Balanced diet – good sports nutrition is important. We need to source our carbohydrates, protein and fat from a wide range of foods including fruits and vegetables, grains and cereals, lean meats including fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, seeds and legumes.
5. Hydration – just for ordinary levels of activity we need to drink about 2 litres of water a day. During hard exercise or sports we need up to 750 ml of water per hour. Sports nutrition is more effective with good hydration.