Are nutritional requirements the same for every sport?

They are the same in that both the athlete and non sports person requires carbohydrates for energy, protein for muscle repair and growth and a small amount of fat. Fat is often seen as the ‘bad guy’ but it does help to supply energy during exercise. The answer is to consume ‘good’ fats such as polyunsaturated fats, which are found in oily fish and monounsaturated fats, found in olive oil and nuts.

Try to avoid saturated fats such as cream, butter, cheese, pies, pastries, fatty meat and anything which is made from animal sources.

In respect of food consumption: the main difference between the active and non-active person is the amount and timing. By this we mean the quantity of food consumed and when it is consumed. In other words the quantity of food consumed before, during and after exercise.

If you play competitive sport then you will be used to monitoring your weight, body fat levels and calorie intake. This means watching the amount of carbohydrates, fats and protein consumed each day and adjusting where necessary.

This especially applies to those sports in which power to weight ratio is important. For example, the ability to climb hills well often depends upon body weight and power output. An athlete with a light, slim build is usually able to climb better than someone with a heavier build. If you wish to improve your hill climbing ability then you may need to reduce your calorie intake to do so. Doing this will cause you to lose weight which means less to haul up the hills!

Weight reduction or gain is dependant upon ‘energy balance’: the balance between energy consumed in the form of calories and energy expenditure – the amount of calories burned.

Basically, an active person will have higher energy output levels then those of a non-active person. These higher levels will often result in an increase in the amount of food and liquid consumed during the day due to the amount of calories burned during the exercise.

Your body requires the optimum amount of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals to ensure peak performance and recovery. Insufficient amounts of any or all of these can cause dehydration, muscle cramps, headaches and tiredness.

Sports Nutrition Guide Index:

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