Don’t let nutrition take a back seat

2014-11-25 00:00

DO not let nutrition take a back seat in your training during the holidays.

These are the words of Danielle Roberts, sports dietician at the Sharks Medical Centre in Durban, in her Christmas message to the ­province’s keen young school boy and girl sports players.

“Your eating programme supports your body so you are able to train,” Roberts said to The Witness.

Good nutrition enables the young sportsperson to feel better after training and will go a long way to the end goal of success in a competitive match or an athletics/swimming meeting.

“Do not underestimate the power of nutrition to support your training,” said Roberts. “If you neglect your nutrition, I guarantee it will come back to bite you.”

Sports nutrition is about improving health, as well as performance, whether you are in-season or out-of-season. Holiday times can create havoc with your health and weight goals when good eating habits slacken off.

“The old way of applying nutrition to training is the traditional belief that nutrition is only important a few days or a week before an event. The new way is to think about nutrition as an important part of your training, all year round.”

Just as you have specific training goals, such as increasing endurance, strength and speed, you should have specific nutrition goals as well. Your eating programme should support your energy needs, as they change with the varying volume and intensity in your training year, so that you are able to train efficiently and effectively, and improve your health and performance.

Roberts says that everyone is unique in how much water they need. Drinking too little, or losing too much through sweating, can inhibit your ability to exercise. A good rule of thumb is to check the colour of your urine. Throughout the day, with the exception of the morning, your urine should be a pale yellow colour.

As far as protein sports drinks are concerned, it has been suggested that consuming a protein-carbohydrate mixture before, during and after exercise will raise blood insulin levels more than carbohydrate alone.

Having higher insulin levels will increase the body’s usage of carbs in muscle and delay fatigue by slowing the rate of muscle glycogen depletion.

The hormone insulin is responsible for transporting glucose (carbs) from the blood into the muscle, where it can be used for energy. It is important to note that if muscle glycogen is depleted, protein from the blood or from muscle tissue will be broken down for energy.

After training, it becomes extremely important to take in a protein supplement along with carbs, to prevent muscle protein breakdown.

“Maintaining proper nutrition throughout the year will not necessarily make you stronger or faster, but it will most certainly provide you with the right amount and timing of nutrients so that you can improve your health, prevent illnesses, and change your body composition and weight, all with the end goal of improving your performance.”

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