Aerobic conditioning, strength training, scheduling rest days, and focusing on sleep quality are all essential for increasing your sports performance. What you eat is also an important part of your training.
Here’s what you need to know about the link between nutrition and sports performance, courtesy of Steven Levingston, DC and Brittany Anz, DC.
The Link Between Nutrition and Sports Performance
The food you eat is fuel for your body, and when you’re an athlete, this fuel becomes even more important. The food you eat can help you give the energy to train (or compete) and the nutrients and vitamins you need for your muscles to repair.
Whether you want to have the endurance to make it to the end of a half marathon or you need energy for a 90-minute HIIT class, your body needs energy. Without the right energy, you’re likely to experience exercise-induced fatigue before you’re ready to quit for the day. Learning how 一 and when 一 to fuel before training can help you reach your energy goals.
The key here is to make sure you’re eating enough high-quality carbohydrates. Although carbohydrates are sometimes misrepresented as “bad” by fad diets, the reality is that carbohydrates are your body’s primary source of energy. Your body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, and then your cells use glucose as energy.
When it comes to sports performance, you can’t perform well without energy, and that’s just what carbs do: they provide energy for your muscles (and your brain) while you work out.
Good sources of carbohydrates include brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes, fruit, and vegetables.
Determining how many grams of carbohydrates you need depends on your body weight, the length of your planned activity, and what type of activity you’re planning. For instance, a long-distance runner may need to focus on carbohydrate-rich meals before a long run, but they may also need to refuel with carbohydrates during the run.
Having the stamina to complete a run or perform well during a soccer game is only half of the battle. Good nutrition, particularly protein intake, is essential for recovery and repair. Protein 一 a macronutrient composed of amino acids 一 serves as the building blocks for your body. You can’t get stronger or build more muscle if you’re not consuming enough protein.
When you eat protein after physical activity, it:
- Gives your muscles the amino acids required to repair and rebuild
- Facilities the recovery of muscle function
- Promotes athletic performance by building new lean muscle mass
Protein can be found in lean meats, eggs, protein supplements, beans, and dairy products. Focusing on recovery is important because it ensures that your muscles have properly rested, recovered, and repaired before training again. Training without recovery can lead to overtraining, burnout, and overuse injuries.
Protein isn’t the only nutrient that helps aid in recovery. Nutrients, especially magnesium and potassium, are also important. Magnesium, for example, helps your muscles relax and helps avoid soreness after an intense workout. Potassium helps replace the lost salts you lost through sweating and can help you avoid painful muscle cramps.
It would be remiss to discuss sports performance and nutrition without discussing hydration. According to a 2021 article published in the Journal of Human Kinetics, adequate hydration is indispensable when it comes to sports performance. Drinking enough fluids (before, during, and after activity) helps provide energy, reduce the risk of sports injuries, boost mental clarity, and aid in recovery 一 all of which boosts your sports performance.
Back to the titular question, good nutrition helps build your endurance, helps you build lean muscle mass through efficient recovery, and helps you avoid injury and burnout by supporting your body’s nutritional needs.
Improving Your Sports Performance with Nutrition
Protein and carbohydrates are essential for sports performance, but how much of each macronutrient you need depends on many factors. For example, how many grams of protein you need depends on:
- Whether you’re strength training or endurance training
- How much you weigh
- If you’re trying to lose weight, maintain your weight, or gain weight
As you can see, there are a lot of variables to consider. Not to mention, there are dozens of misleading articles available on the internet. What works for one person isn’t necessarily the right path for you. That’s where nutritional coaching comes into the picture.
Nutritional coaching is a type of counseling that helps you learn about the specific nutrition needs you have. Here at Premier Chiropractic, we create sports nutrition plans tailored to you with a special emphasis on your specific sport, your overall goals, and your food preferences.
Boost your sports performance with nutritional coaching here at our Pearland, Texas, office. Give us a call at 281-223-1172 or book an appointment online and get started today.