Article 1 of 6: The Basics of Nutrition…..
…… for Sports and Exercise and remaining healthy.
The volume of information about nutrition and healthy eating is totally overwhelming and worse, often conflicting. Basically we can Google ourselves to whatever information we would like, and a positive or negative take on any subject we choose, depending on the words we use in our search engines.
That is the reality we face when trying to determine what is healthy and what is not. We can turn to government guidelines, but when doing so, we need to be mindful of the fact that these are, for obvious reasons, not updated in line with research at the rate that new research is published. So, it can be argued that even these sources can be misleading, especially at times when new scientific research findings are accelerating at the rates they currently are.
So: How do we know what is right? And equally importantly, is what is right for one, also right for everyone else?
Thanks to tireless scientists, medical professionals and a large number of individuals who have been willing to search the scientific archives, and document their experience and findings from their own research, we know a few more things about nutrition and what stimulates or detracts from healthy living today, than we did a few years ago.
For sports people, looking to enhance their training results and improve stamina, muscle strength and resistance, this is highly exciting. I will try to cover a few of the basics that are not contentious, as well as some exciting new developments in a series of articles, to follow.
Lets start with the basics:
When considering nutrition as a means to improving athletic performance and recovery, and beyond medical considerations (including allergies), the basics include:
- having sufficient energy
- getting the right amount of the right protein at the right time
- remaining hydrated
- making sure to get the right balance of vitamins and minerals to help ‘oil the wheels’ of an optimally functioning and active body, mind
- considering intolerances
I will deal with these separate, although highly related, subjects in a series of articles, and will begin with a basic introductory definition of each of these, as follows:
Much like any machine, if there is no fuel for the power source, the machine will not run. In animals, including humans, if there is no fuel for our muscles, we cannot move. As such, having access to sufficient energy is the most basic starting point for performing any form of exercise. The complicating factor, especially in our current society, is that supplying our bodies with too much energy, or, as I will argue in future articles, not the right form of fuel, will lead to us gaining weight, which in turn makes exercise harder to perform.
As regards proteins, these are the essential building blocks of every single part of our body. To grow muscle, you need protein, to grow skin, hair and nails, you need protein, to repair any body damage you need protein. But protein is also broken down in your body when you exercise, and this is something I will look at in more detail in a subsequent article.
Remaining hydrated by drinking sufficient liquids, to support the body’s transport systems, is something every athlete and most occasional exercisers are also very aware of, and we will deal with this also in a future article.
Equally critical, especially in the longer term, is probably the most complex subject of all: Getting the right balance of minerals and vitamins is the key to being able to efficiently utilise the foods we eat and, as such, to produce enzymes and hormones and antioxidants, that keep our cells and organs healthy and functioning well, also whilst under stress from tough exercise challenges.
And finally, the subject that should be the starting point, but is at times not sufficiently apparent until well in to the process of establishing an optimum diet for an individual, is food intolerances.
Few will question these five basic nutrition considerations, when looking to enhance sports performance and recovery. But, as with all complex issues, the devil is in the detail. I will look at this detail in the remaining 5 dedicated articles to be published on this blog over the forthcoming months.
Each article will cover one of the five basic subjects listed above.
In the following article I will look at ENERGY.
If, in the meantime, you would like to discuss your specific challenges or experiences with me, please contact me.