Ensuring you are consuming the correct nutrition on a daily basis is crucial for your overall health, as we all know, however it becomes absolutely paramount if you're looking to progress substantially in fitness or a particular sport. PT and Fitness Media Expert, Carly Yue, explains everything from making the right choices, to performance, to maintenance, with information on what supplements will aid your progression...

eating-for-success

Nutrition is one of the most important parts of building a powerful body, and without it your body will go nowhere. I compete in bodybuilding competitions in the bikini category so the training and preparation for this is a long and planned process, but whether you are a bodybuilder, a professional athlete or simply exercising to improve your health, sports nutrition will always play a key role in optimising the beneficial effects of physical activity.

So how can I help you with your nutrition? To give you a bit of background, I have won five trophies in my sport, achieving first place in Miami Pro 2014 and earning my pro-card. I am also sponsored by BSN, a leading sports supplements company, and affiliated with Zone Nutrition who provide healthy, clean meals to athletes nationwide. Let’s start with the basics.

Perfecting your diet to suit your goals

Consuming the right foods and aiming to reach the right balance of both food and drink is important for everyone, though those who are actively participating in sport on a regular basis need to be aware that it can also affect their performance. Athletes, for example, may need more calories than the average person. So if you’re an athlete, or simply someone who’s made the decision to start exercising on a regular basis, you shouldn’t let a good nutrition plan fall down on your list of priorities.

Choosing better options when it comes to food and hydration can result in:

  • Improved performance
  • Injury prevention
  • Increase energy levels
  • Promote good health
  • Help manage weight
  • Improve concentration
  • Develop body composition and growth
  • Enhance recovery

What should you eat?

The types of food that you should include in your diet for optimum sports nutrition include:

  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Fruits
  • Healthy fats
  • Sources of lean protein and low-fat dairy produce

The ratio and quantity of these foods would be entirely dependent upon the sport, the individual, their lifestyle, genetics, age and goals. Because of this, all Olympians are given advice and tailored plans created by a sports nutritionist to ensure they’re getting exactly what they need.

How specific macros aid your sports performance and energy

Fats, protein and carbohydrates all provide your body with fuel to maintain energy. Carbohydrates are the primary fuel used by working muscles and adequate intake is essential for preventing muscle fatigue. While you should monitor your fat intake, you should not remove it from your diet completely. Fats provide fatty acids that can be used as a source of energy, especially if your exercise sessions last longer than one hour. Fats also provide the building blocks for hormones and formation of cell walls. Protein can be used as a source of energy and is critical for building new muscle tissue. If you are taking part in resistance training, your body will require additional protein.

Seek advice before losing or gaining & take maintaining seriousl

If you are looking to lose weight for sport, strictly reducing your protein, fat or calorie intake can not only have a negative impact on your performance, but it can severely harm your body. The same goes for gaining. Seeking advice is so important to ensure that your health is intact at all times. On the other hand, if you’re looking to maintain, that doesn’t mean that the rules should go out of the window. Eating well is equally crucial.

How supplements can aid your training

Supplements are used by athletes, bodybuilders and sports men and women to boost their strength, performance and recovery. They are available in numerous different forms ranging from multivitamins and minerals, through to protein, creatine and various other ‘ergogenic’ aids. Before individuals opt to take any form of supplement they should ensure that their diet is healthy, balanced and suits their sport. Those who do decide to take additional nutrients in supplemental form should always consult an accredited sports dietitian or a registered nutritionist who specialises in sports nutrition. They will be able to assess your suitability for a particular supplement.

Common sports supplements include the following:

Creatine: This is a high-energy compound which helps to store and provide energy. It is is produced within the body, occurs naturally in fish and meat, and can also be taken in supplement form. As a dietary supplement, creatine is used by athletes and sports men and women to increase muscle strength and explosive power. It is intended to help you train for longer and also to boost performance during frequent high-intensity exercise.

Whey protein: This is a natural protein present in milk, containing very little fat, carbohydrate or lactose. Whey is what is known as a naturally complete protein. This means that it is made up of all of the essential amino acids which are needed in the average daily diet. As well as having the perfect combination of amino acids, whey protein also contains what is known as a branch chain of amino acids (BCAAs), which are the first ones to be used during intense training. The whey protein provides the body with these amino acids and in turn they assist with repairing and rebuilding lean muscle tissue. Another benefit of whey protein is that it is extremely easy to digest, so it is absorbed quickly and can provide instantaneous nourishment to the muscles.

Keeping on top of hydration

It is imperative to stay hydrated when you are taking part in sports as inadequate fluid intake leads to dehydration. This affects your performance, and can be dangerous for your health too. Although dehydration can happen in any activity, it’s more prevalent when exercising in hot and humid conditions. Water is perfect for rehydration but if you are engaged in physical activity for longer than one hour, sports drinks that include electrolytes can be helpful, particularly those who undertake endurance events such as long distance running. The energy drinks which contain electrolytes such as sodium help to stimulate thirst and encourage drinking, as well as enhancing the body’s ability to hold water. In addition, the carbohydrates contained in many energy drinks can provide individuals with extra energy which may be needed in the latter stages of training. Be sure to research the best ones though, as some are not good for you at all!

Adjusting your diet accordingly

Most athletes, especially professionals such as Olympians, will have an ‘off and on season’. During their ‘off season’ they will typically relax their diet a little, look to gain strength and fuel their vigorous training. Then in the run up to their events they will get stricter with their diet, this may mean eating more or less depending on the demands of their sport and training will also become more intense and specific – focusing on improving the weaker areas, conditioning and rest. This may not apply to you and your goals, but if it does, ensure it’s done correctly and effectively for maximum results.

*Please seek professional medical advice from the NHS before adapting your diet.

[caption id="attachment_641" align="aligncenter" width="150"]Carly Tierney Personal Trainer Guest post by PT & Media Fitness Expert Carly Yue.[/caption]