The science of Sports Nutrition is complex and often confusing, but it can be simplified into four basic components: Fuelling, Refuelling, Repairing and Recovery.
Carbohydrates = Instant Fuel
All activities use fuel, which is measured in calories and often referred to as energy. Our immediate use fuel tanks are our muscles. The quick burning fuels our bodies use are carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, rice, vegetables, fruit and sugar. When we eat carbohydrates they are converted in the body and stored as muscle glycogen – thus filling up the fuel tank.
Fat = Reserve Fuel
Fats in our food are stored in the “long distance” fuel tanks: our fat cells. We tap into these reserves when we participate in endurance events.
Hydration = Water
Dehydration is one of the biggest problems in sport. If you wait until you are thirsty it is too late, so get used to drinking water every 15 minutes. If it is very hot or you are in heavy training then drink even more.
Keep in mind that our window of opportunity for maximum potential glycogen replenishment occurs within the first 30 minutes after exercise. This simply means that we have a 30 minute window opportunity when our muscles are most receptive toward being refilled.
Protein = Repair
After Exercise, we should take in high quality protein. Every activity in life damages muscle cells; the more strenuous the activity or the exercise, the more damage that occurs. Adequate, high quality protein assists muscle cells in repairing themselves.
Research suggests that antioxidant nutrients assist in reducing recovery time by helping the body combat free radical damage. Athletes create large amounts of free radicals in several ways. One way is by simply breathing in far more oxygen than a non-active person does. By minimising free radical production, the athlete can potentially reduce the amount of recovery time needed between events or hard training sessions. Reducing free radical damage may
- Speed up lactic acid removal mechanisms.
- Reduce muscle fibril degradation.
- Increase glycogen resynthesis.
The bottom line is that an athlete may feel less soreness, stiffness or fatigue. This may lead to more time for practice and playing sport. Varieties of antioxidants enhance the body’s recovery and regenerate each other to sustain the body’s antioxidant power.
Remember – you can only burn fat in the presence of carbohydrate!