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Condition - Peak Perfomance - Sports Nutrition

By Christine Bailey MSc PGCE MBANT

Sports nutrition is not just for athletes! Whether a casual gym-goer or serious sports enthusiast, eating healthily and supplementing your diet can help boost your health and fitness.

No-one said getting fit was easy. But, if you want to make the most of your workouts, you need to be eating right. Without proper nutrition, the body can be subjected to high levels of stress, which can affect performance and recovery and increase the likelihood of injury.

Food is fuel

No matter what sport or exercise you do, you can improve your fitness and energy levels by tweaking your diet. Forget three meals a day. Eating little and often (five to six small meals a day) can help balance blood sugar, keeping you fuelled. Include lean protein, healthy fat and fruit and/or vegetables with wholegrain at each meal. The amount of carbohydrate will depend on the type and intensity of your activity, but, in general, stick to low glycemic index foods like wholemeal pasta, brown basmati rice and oats. The main times you will need faster-releasing carbohydrates are during long training sessions and the recovery phase. 

PROTEIN POWER

Many exercisers still skimp on protein, focusing instead on carbohydrate-rich foods. Protein is vital for growth and repair of muscles, immune support and many other functions essential to health and performance. If you are a regular exerciser, you will need at least 1.2g-1.4g per kg total body mass per day, around 15-20% of your total daily calories. But for some sports, especially those involving strength and power, you may need substantially more. For an 80kg athlete consuming 1.4g per kg total body mass per day of protein, this would mean consuming 112g of protein per day. When you consider that a chicken breast contains around 40g, a fillet of fish 25g, and 2 eggs 14g protein, you can see why protein powders are so popular.

Many protein powders are based on whey. But these are not suitable for everyone, including vegans or those allergic to dairy. Enter hemp protein – a delicious, nutritious alternative. Exceptionally high in protein (50%) and containing all the essential amino acids, it can help make up any dietary shortfalls.

ESSENTIAL FATS

Hemp protein has an additional benefit of being rich in the omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids, too. Healthy fat is another macronutrient exercisers skimp on, so including hemp protein daily is a great, all-in-one, ‘nutritious shot’. Essential fats have many important functions, including regulating inflammation, making them particularly useful post exercise and during injury.

ADDITIONAL NEEDS

Regular exercise also increases your requirements for a number of vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, calcium and antioxidants. Taking a high potency multivitamin and mineral supplement and a separate antioxidant formula, especially during intense periods of training, can help to meet your body’s needs. 


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