It’s not news that nutrition plays a very important role in any athlete’s professional life and performance. Whether they are just beginning in their chosen sport or have been an athlete for years, a good nutrition plan can be the key to unlocking their goals and breaking records. But what is nutrition actually? Let’s look at the basics:
What is athletic nutrition?
Athletic nutrition is a well-designed nutrition plan that allows athletes to perform at their best by providing the right macro- and micro-nutrients – vitamins, minerals, energy, nutrients and fluids – that they need. These nutrients help improve the body and organ functions when exercising or taking part in sports.
Macro-nutrients provide the energy that an athlete needs during exercise and sports. These include:
- Carbohydrates: which is the most important energy source for an athlete and contains natural sugars which are to be found in fruits, vegetables and milk, as well as whole-grain found in bread, potatoes, most vegetables and oats. Carbohydrates are divided by the body into glucose or blood sugar, which gets fed to cells, muscles and organs as energy.
- Proteins: made up of a chain of amino acids which aren’t naturally produced by the body and can only be supplied through foods. You can get these amino acids from meat, fish, poultry and milk, as well as certain plant foods. Protein helps an athlete’s muscles recover and grow.
- Fats: healthy fats, which are also known as unsaturated fats, help the body develop, protect our organs and maintain cell membranes. These fats come from plant foods like olive oil and nuts. Saturated fats in meats and dairy can increase the risks of diseases.
Micro-nutrients are mostly made up of vitamins and minerals that are necessary for energy production, immune function, blood clotting and more. These include:
- Water-soluble vitamins: these vitamins are easily absorbed into your body and get flushed out with urine when athletes consume too much. They include vitamins B1 to B12, as well as vitamin C.
- Fat-soluble vitamins: these vitamins need to be consumed with fat and are stored in your liver. They include vitamins A, D, E and K.
- Macro-minerals: these minerals are needed in more significant amounts and include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, chloride, potassium and sulfur.
- Trace minerals: these minerals are only necessary in smaller amounts and include iron, manganese, copper, zinc, iodine, fluoride and selenium.
When combined right, these macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients help athletes improve their endurance, strength, speed and recovery when exercising or doing sports. By balancing these minerals, vitamins, fats, fluids and other nutrients, athletes make sure their bodies perform at their best. This, in turn, assures that their athletic performance is also at its best.
If you feel that you would like to dig deeper into the exciting world of sports nutrition, then we really recommend that you do a sports nutrition diploma like the one which we offer at Trifocus Fitness Academy. For more information as well as to register, please follow this link.