Sports nutrition is probably the area I knew least about and in some ways the area of nutrition which I found most daunting. It just so happened that the last weekend of class focused pretty much solely on the area and I have to say I found it extremely enlightening.
As with every area of nutrition opinions will differ but what I found most off putting about sports nutrition was the strict almost regime like approach that professional athletes potentially have to follow and that seemingly many in the area seem to promote.
I can of course see the importance and value of working on calories and the intake of specific nutrients at certain times of the day in order to ensure you’re properly fuelled for exercise, training and events, as well as promoting the recovery of muscles and the entire system.
Something which I completely underestimated was the role that water, staying hydrated, has to play in strength and endurance and just how much needs to be consumed to compensate for water weight (sweat) lost during training.
Some people are of the perception that if you thin and exercise a lot you can continue to eat what you want and maybe it’s something you can get away with for a while but it will eventually take it’s toll on the body and leave you feeling sick, tired and more at risk of suffering from chronic illness as the years go by.
Below are some interesting stats and considerations when it comes to water, carbohydrates, protein and overall calorie intake in order to enhance performance and keep your body in tip top condition, some of which is most definitely applicable for those of you, myself included who work out 6 days of the week in a row.
- Without water your body will use up your store of glycogen more quickly – you’ll get tired more quickly!
- Muscles are 75% water. A loss of 3% water causes a 10% drop in strength and 8% loss of speed!
- Eating plenty of carbohydrates will help you to store water; each gram of carbohydrate stored with 4 grams of water.
- Crucial to start taking water in immediately when you begin exercising.
- Lactic acid is water soluble, so the more hydrated you are, the less likely you are to feel a burn while you workout; lactate is a side effect of glucose/carbohydrate metabolism – conversion of them to energy during exercise
How much water to drink…
- 500ml 2 hours before exercising
- 600ml – 1 litre during exercise every hour – your aim is to replace up to 80% of fluids lost during exercise
- After exercise – replace lost fluids by 150%
- Work out fluids lost by:
- Weighing yourself before exercising…
- Weighing yourself immediately after…
- For every kg lost replace with 1.5 times water…
- Example ….1 kg lost = 1.5 litres of water
- Carbohydrates – approximately 60-65% of calorie intake
- Protein – 15-35 % of calorie intake – depending on level and type of exercise
- Fat – 25-30% of calorie intake
Lower intensity exercise – fuelled by fat
Higher intensity exercise – requires glycogen – store of carbohydrates as it needs energy quickly!
How much carbohydrates and when?
Before Exercise – 2.5g per kilo of body weight – Low GI – slow releasing
During Exercise – 30-60g per hour – High GI – fast releasing; begin fuelling 30 minutes in if intending to train for more than an hour
After Exercise – 1g per kilo of body weight – Ideally within 30 minutes to an hour after training – High GI
- Body can absorb a max. of 60g per hour
- 2-4 hours before a race or event eat 150 grams of carbohydrate
Ensuring you have the right amount of carbohydrates in your system will prevent you hitting “the wall” during training as well as aiding in the utilisation or protein consumed for muscle growth and recovery.
- Protein won’t be absorbed without carbohydrate.
- Only a certain amount can be utilised – the rest will be oxidised for energy.
- Excess protein – believed to harm the kidneys and liver as well as being associated with increased risk of osteoporosis – main research in relation to animal protein as opposed to plant.
- Protein intake should be 15-35% of total calorie intake.
- Needs in the upper range when exercise increased.
- 1 – 1.8g per kilo of body weight
In terms of calories if you work out your RMR – resting metabolic rate which is basically an estimate of what you burn while at rest, the energy needed to support your bodily functions which surprisingly accounts for 60-75% of calorie intake. Rather than going in to the calculations you can make use of an online calculator with much greater ease!
You then use PAL – your physical activity level score, multiply it by your RMR and you get a good estimate of your daily calorie requirements to maintain weight There is a handy table to rate your PAL below!