No matter how active you are, or at what level you compete, getting the correct nutrition is essential if you're hoping to achieve that winning edge.
If you eat a balanced diet, drink enough water then your body can make energy efficiently which fuels top performance. Basing your diet on a variety of factors including your age, size and physical condition, and the type of exercise you are doing will enable you to make the most of your athletic talents and gain more strength, power and endurance when you train.
Eating a balanced and healthy diet, means for many a diet high in complex carbohydrates, moderate in protein and low in fats. Depending upon your unique health and fitness levels, this should be enough to keep most people in general good health. It may also be sufficient to replenish the energy and nutrients used by a basic exercise programme.
On the other hand, if you exercise regularly and intensively, supplements may also be an effective and convenient addition to your diet. Whether used to prolong endurance, enhance recovery, reduce body fat, increase muscle mass, minimise the risk of illness, or achieve specific training goals, there are hundreds to choose from. So where do you start? Start by talking to professionals as well as doing your own research, as you are already doing by reading this page.
Fueling up! The purpose of eating prior to exercise is to provide the body with vital fuel and fluid in order to improve performance. The pre-competition meals play a vital role in maintaining normal blood sugar levels, to sustain energy. They may also prevent performance problems associated with hypoglycemia, such as light-headedness, blurred vision, needless fatigue and indecisiveness.
During strength training you may want to ensure that carbohydrates are used as your prime energy source. If your energy reserves are exhausted, the body may otherwise use protein from the muscles to provide the missing energy.
We know from some of our professional athletes that many follow similar diets to the one below on their big days:
Large Meal 600+ calories 3-5 hours pre-event
Small Meal 300-500 calories 2-3 hours pre-event
Liquidised Meal 300-500 calories 1-2 hours pre-event
Small Snack 50-200 calories 30 mins-1 hour pre-event
Always see your doctor for advice before trying a carbohydrate-loading diet. Here's what we know about the subject.
Carbohydrates are essential in maintaining your energy levels. To avoid 'running out' some athletes, especially those taking part in endurance events like long-distance running, swimming and cycling, load their muscles with glycogen by eating extra carbohydrates in combination with doing depletion exercises several days before an event.
Firstly, the theory is to exercise to exhaustion Workouts must be identical to the upcoming event to deplete the right muscles. Athletes then eat a high-carbohydrate diet, 70-80% carbohydrates, 10-15% fat and 10-15% protein and do little or no exercise from three days before their event. Apparently, muscles loaded with unused glycogen will then be available to work for longer periods of time during competition.
Remember training advice changes all the time, so keep researching so you can make your own safe and informed decisions.