Sports Nutrition is the scientific study and discipline of diet and nutrition especially with regards to enhancing anyone’s athletic performance in any form. It is used in many forms of sports and all kinds of athletic activities. Sports Nutrition has been used by athletes from all over the world since the early 70’s in their pursuit for better health. The main goal of sports nutrition is to support athletes in achieving their optimum physical performance, to keep them healthy, and to optimize training and recovery.
Sports Nutrition deals mainly with the nutritional requirements of athletes and their training and rehabilitation programs. Proper nutrition for an athlete is one of the most important aspects of his or her training program. Sports Nutrition has become a major part of every serious strength and conditioning program, as it helps you build the proper muscle structure and the proper energy levels required for the exercise process. Sports nutrition can be classified into several types; this includes sports vitamins and supplements, natural foods (i.e. food) nutrition, and dietary management, which includes everything that has anything to do with the food or drink intake of the athlete while training.
The main objective of sports nutrition is to ensure that an athlete has a proper nutrient-rich meal prior to and after training or competing. One of the most important aspects of proper nutrition and hydration is fluid intake and how much of it should be ingested during an athletic activity. While athletes may have fluid intake guidelines established by the organization they train and compete in, there are no federal guidelines that address fluid intake and what to consume with every fluid type consumed.
Nutrient timing is also an important aspect of sports nutrition that should not be underestimated. Proper nutrient timing means that you ingest the right amounts of the necessary nutrients and minerals at the right times to maximize your workout. There are four phases of nutrient timing. Each phase is equally important and warrants its own unique time and nutrient intake strategy.
The first stage is post-exercise. Athletes who are serious about their sports nutrition understand that nutrition immediately following a strenuous exercise is just as important as before the workout. In fact, proper nutrition and hydration before a workout is even more important. In this case, athletes should focus on eating small amounts of protein immediately following exercise to help repair the muscles. Athletes also need the fuel that consuming protein provides to get them through the recovery period. Protein shakes are popular for recovery purposes, but should be used sparingly and consumed prior to eating a big meal following a big workout.
The second stage is pre-workout. Athletes who are serious about their sports nutrition understand that recovery and nutrition are intertwined. Pre-workout nutrition is about ensuring the right amount of calories and protein are consumed so that the body has the energy it needs for the next session. In this case, a nutritionist would recommend that an athlete drinks protein shakes to provide the body with that fuel, but only after an intense session of exercise. For example, if an athlete exercises intensively and plans to work out for an hour at a time in the gym, he or she should consume protein immediately following that workout rather than waiting until an hour later.
Post-workout, athletes need proper hydration techniques. Water bottles may be convenient for athletes on the go, but the best solution for hydration is still a bottle of water. Sports nutritionists stress the importance of consistent and reliable hydration to maintain adequate body composition, especially for athletes who are serious about their sports nutrition and training programs.
Lastly, we will consider the effects of over-use and abuse of specific body components. Athletes are not exposed to the same level of abuse and overuse that the average person experiences. Still, improper hydration and nutrition techniques can lead to unwanted consequences. An athlete may experience joint pain, for example. He or she may also develop a deficiency of vitamin D and other important minerals.