Whether you’re an athlete or just interested in optimizing your performance, nutrition plays an important role. A well-balanced diet containing adequate calories, protein and carbohydrates is essential for fuelling the body’s energy needs during exercise.
Carbohydrates are the main source of fuel for working muscles and should make up 45-65% of an athletes daily calories. Generally, carbohydrate foods should be mainly whole-grain and unrefined to maximise the body’s glycogen stores. Carbohydrate supplements or energy gels are helpful for boosting carbohydrate intake during exercise lasting longer than 1 hour and can contain up to 25 g of simple carbs per serve depending on the brand.
Hydration is key and a goal for any athlete as dehydration impairs athletic performance. Athletes should aim to replenish fluid losses within 2 hours post-exercise and consume water with electrolytes for prompt rehydration.
Protein is an essential nutrient for muscle building and repair and should make up around 0.8 to 1.0 g of protein per kg of body weight, which can be achieved with a high-protein diet or through protein supplements. Nutrient timing is currently an area of interest, with some research suggesting that consuming proteins at specific times may improve performance. This includes pre-training meals, a snack one to two hours before exercise and post-exercise recovery meals. Generally, athletes should consume a balanced meal with protein after training and a sports drink with carbohydrates to help facilitate recovery. Carbohydrate and protein should be consumed at a rate to match the athlete’s sweat losses during exercise. sports nutrition