By Postmedia SEO
Every athlete strives to be better. Better than they were the day before and better than their competition. Getting better doesn’t start in the gym though, it starts in the kitchen.
Proper nutrition plays a key role in your daily training and recovery. It can be what gives you the edge to out-perform. This article is going to explore how proteins, carbohydrates, and fats affect your athletic performance, as well as pre-event meals and even eating during your workout.
YOUR TRAINING DIET
For the most part, our diets should be divided so that energy intake comes from:
- 50-70% carbohydrates
- 15-30% protein
- 20-35% fats
If training strenuously for more than an hour every day, then you’ll need to increase your carbohydrates, taking away from fats, not protein.
Of course, when we’re talking carbohydrates, we’re referring to nutrient rich carbs such as sweet potatoes, quinoa, fruit, etc… not cookies. Fats should come from mono and poly-unsaturated fats such as nuts, seeds, avocado and olive oils, limit saturated fats found in products such as cheese, and butter, and avoid trans-fats found in pastries, many baked goods and friend foods.
The important thing to remember is that your training diet is all about nutrition and should:
- Provide you enough nutrients and energy to meet the demands of your training.
- Aide in your recovery between training.
- Provide all necessary fluids to prevent dehydration.
CARBS AND EXERCISE
Most carbohydrates are broken down into glucose during digestion. Glucose turns into glycogen, which is stored in your liver and muscle tissue. That way it’s handy for when your body needs an energy source. By regularly eating high-carbohydrate foods, an athlete can store their glycogen for when they need it.
Sticking to whole grains is important, but quick absorbing carbs such as white bread, crackers, and jam are useful when jacking-up your carbs right before the game or a heavy training session, this will give you an energy boost, increasing your athletic performance.
The Glycaemic Index (GI) is known for ranking foods by how carbohydrate-rich they are, specifically how quickly they affect your blood sugar level. On your down days, or immediately after exercise, you should stick to lower GI foods, to help sustain and level out your blood sugar. However, right before exercise and during you’ll want to consume moderate to high GI foods to boost your energy and make the most out of your training session.
PROTEIN AND PERFORMANCE
Protein plays an important part in your recovery and assists in repairing tissues and muscle fiber. Athletes that participate in strength based exercises can benefit from a higher protein intake compared to the general population, however some athletes focus too much on protein consumption, and well exceed their daily protein requirements. Before you buy expensive supplements and bars, evaluate your daily protein intake in a normal week. The recommended daily allowance for protein is 0.8 g per kg of body weight, for athletes, that number is typically between 1-2 g per kg of body weight.
It’s important to remember that the body can typically only absorb and utilize ~20-30g of protein per meal. Extra protein consumed is often stored as fat, and the surplus of amino acids within protein is excreted by the body. Furthermore, excessively high protein intake can be tougher on your kidneys.
If you’ve been at this for a while, then you know your pre-event meal is important to athletic performance. A high carbohydrate meal about three hours before exercise is beneficial, along with a small snack one hour ahead. If you don’t like eating that small snack before your workout, try staying away from fat or protein, they’re more likely to cause digestive discomfort.
EATING DURING EXERCISE
It may sound strange to eat during your workout, but if you’re exercising for more than one hour then you may need to top up your glucose levels or you’ll be hit with some intense fatigue. It’s surprising how much a lollipop or sports gel will improve your athletic performance.
EATING AFTER EXERCISE
Replacing glycogen levels is important after your workout. Fluid intake should be consistent, and carbohydrates should be consumed within the first two hours of finishing. Some of the best choices for a post-workout snack include sandwiches, pasta, and whole grains.