All athletes want to achieve that ‘extra edge’ which moves them up to the next level in terms of overall fitness and performance. Top sporting professionals agree that the right diet is as important as sustained training in achieving this edge. Athletes have quite specific nutritional needs due to the high impact and frequency of their training and the needs of each particular sport. For example, the ideal nutritional plan for a 100m sprinter looks very different to that of a 42.195km marathon runner. One is aiming for lightening speed for a maximum of around 12 seconds, while the other is aiming for sustained endurance for a minimum of 2 hours.
Over time nutritional knowledge has expanded and developed to support athletes in arming themselves with the best possible nutritional balance to match the varying needs of their sports. Sports nutrition focuses on the cutting edge science of foods, looking at what effect they have on performance and overall fitness. This is important knowledge. What an athlete eats and drinks and when can have long-term effects on an athlete’s ability to compete at peak and their rate of recovery after sporting activity. This potentially impacts on their whole eating and training cycle. Eating a heavy meal too soon before an event could result in stomach upset and cramps, but eating too little could result in fatigue and flagging before the event is finished.
Balance is the key and advances in both knowledge and the products and supplements available mean that this can be easily achieved. With your own nutritional plans, have fun with it too. There are many tastes out there, whether it’s fish, fruit and veggies or sports drinks and energy supplements. Choose ones that you actually like, as you are more liable to keep true to your dietary regime if you do. Enjoy!
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