10 things to know about nutrition
“Nutrition is an important part of sports training. Here is a beginner’s guide to help you understand everything about performance nutrition.”
Expertise shared by MySomerton’s nutrition specialist Stewart McCreadie
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF NUTRITION IN SPORTS TRAINING?
Nutrition is the study of nutrients in food, not just in terms of what foods to eat and what meals to have, but also what happens after you eat them. It plays an essential role in sports training. What you eat is what makes you better physically and become a stronger sports player.
WHAT IS THE BRIEF HISTORY OF SPORTS NUTRITION?
In the 1904 Olympics, Thomas Hicks won a gold medal running a marathon. He took five eggs, three shots of brandy and two doses of strychnine (now used as rat poison) to keep him going. But then he was not able to receive his medal because he was in terrible condition and almost died. Scientists then started looking to study how to aid sporting performance with food and systematic nutrition plans. Later in the 1930s, the research conducted by Swedish scientists is widely considered the first study of the relationship between nutrition and sporting performance. The topics were about carbohydrates and fat metabolism.
Sports nutrition was officially born in the 1980s by being recognised for its significance in sporting performance. Today, sports scientists and nutrition specialists work together to develop nutrition and training plans for athletes. Individuals can also work with sports nutritionists to personalise their diet plans for specific fitness goals or sports training.
Book your nutrition sessions with Stewart
WHAT ARE THE SPORTS NUTRITION FACTS THAT I MUST KNOW?
We have many different proteins in our body, around 15,000 to 20,000. Every protein within the body is made up of amino acids. Eating foods that have all the amino acids (we call these complete proteins) will ensure that your body systems, not just your muscles are fit and ready for your sport.
We seem to read all about macronutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats and protein. But they are not everything. Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients. Unlike the macros, you cannot make or store them. Micronutrients are crucial. Almost every process your body undertakes depends on the presence of vitamins and minerals. Muscle building needs them, every cell needs them for almost everything they do. It is important to make sure that you are eating a wide selection of vegetables and vitamin and mineral-dense foods.
Water moves all the nutrients you eat around your body. It aids your brains activity, facilitates muscular movement and lubricates your joints. Water in pure form is the liquid your body wants when you are working out. It is easily absorbed into your body and can be quickly moved to exactly where your body needs it to be. Drinking water will boost your training, performance, movement and strength, it will even improve your endurance. There is a reason Cristiano Ronaldo swapped his coke for a bottle of water, you should do the same.
WHY IS A DIET PLAN IMPORTANT FOR SPORTS PERFORMANCE?
Food is fuel. In sports, food ensures that you perform well. Your body does not see cakes, pasta and chicken, but carbs, amino acids, fats, vitamins and minerals. How these nutrients are delivered comes purely down to personal preference. What you eat should be much more about what your body needs to cope with the demands your sport places upon it.
A well-planned, optimised diet can make sure that you get enough energy and nutrition to enhance your sports performance and achieve your training goals.
Google Cristiano Ronaldo’s daily diet. He is still at the top of his game at 37, when most players have long retired due to failing physicality, and this is due down to his training and diet.
WHAT ARE GOOD FOODS AND BAD FOODS?
Most food companies produce food in high volume, so food processing is required. This manufacturing method removes vital aspects like vitamins and adds unwanted considerations like heavy metals, which can affect your sports performance and health.
Firstly, you need vitamins and minerals. Eating these nutrient-lacking foods means your body cannot get what it needs to build, repair, or perform for your sport. This will actually make you feel hungry.
Secondly, heavy metals, more specifically lead, arsenic and cadmium, are definitely not wanted in your body. They impact sports performance, and they are poisonous and known causes of cancer. All three of these compounds are clearly shown to make your brain work to a lesser level. They lower your IQ, impair cognition, and you can imagine what they will do to you if you keep eating them over time.
So, if you want to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and you play a sport that requires your brain to be active, then you might need to consider avoiding man-made and processed foods.
DO I NEED SPORTS SUPPLEMENTS OR PRE-WORKOUT?
Dietary supplements can be beneficial in helping you build and recover the body from training, but they also have some flaws that are often not mentioned.
Protein powder, for example, is processed food. They come with unwanted aspects. When you open the protein powder and it is oxidising, that means it is degrading, breaking down or turning into a substance. Taking it would be like eating rotten food.
Another good example is creatine. It is true that it has its benefits, improving strength, aiding recovery and energy production. Man-made creatine supplement does not claim 100% purity because they are not. We cannot make a vitamin of the same structure as a natural one. So you can use creatine, but get it from foods that have high natural amounts. Eggs and meat are a great choice.
WHAT IS THE BEST TIME TO EAT?
The golden rule is to eat often, eat smaller meals, and never eat too late.
you are training, looking to recovery or getting ready to perform, it
is important to give your body a steady supply of the nutrients it
needs. Your body works best when you are constantly providing the
building blocks needed to repair your muscles.
The main reason we recommend eating a few hours before bed is that your body is a machine, and it takes time for all the broken-down nutrients to reach their destinations. If this is done prior to bedtime, then everything is in the right place for your main recovery session, sleep, and your body can focus just on repairing itself. Eating too late means less of your resources are focused on what you truly need for recovery. Better recovery and repair during your sleep will improve your sports performance, as it means you are in better condition for said events!
Book your nutrition sessions with Stewart
WHAT ARE THE COMMON SPORTS NUTRITION MISTAKES?
Nutrition is one of the aspects of performance and training that most people struggle with and get wrong. Take carbohydrates as an example. You do not need to ensure 40% to 60% of your daily diet is made up of carb-based foods, 30% or so is more than ample. You use carbs for some sports and performance, but fat is your main fuel, and your body can replace all your carb stores by converting fat into carbohydrates. Also make sure you fuel your body well and avoid eating the wrong types. Always eat carbohydrates that take a long time to break down, hence the term slow carbs. Good sources of slow carbs are peas, carrots, eggplant, cauliflower, broccoli, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, green beans and red peppers.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT MY FIRST NUTRITION SESSION?
In the first consultation, MySomerton’s nutrition specialists usually provide an initial assessment to learn more about your lifestyle, goals and aspirations. They will then review your diet and evaluate your nutritional needs, and create a unique, tailor-made nutritional plan for you to optimise your sporting performance.
Book your nutrition sessions with Stewart
HOW TO IMPROVE MY KNOWLEDGE IN SPORTS NUTRITION?
Enrol on a course by specialists in the field, book a consultation with a professional BDA/SENr member, a practitioner. Start using mobile applications to track your food intake, keep a food journal, note down how you performed, and look at what you eat and what those foods contain. Once you have the knowledge, it is yours forever and can always be applied to your benefit. Do not just follow others’ diets, they are not you!
At MySomerton, there are many qualified and experienced sports nutrition professionals. It is very important to get an expert that understands your goals and helps you achieve them. They will customise your programme and elevate your sporting journey.
Check out the full list of our nutrition specialists here