…Eating a well-balanced diet is vital for good all-round health and well-being. The foods which we consume provide essential macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins & minerals) for such things as energy provision, amino acids for building and repairing muscles, essential fats, and vitamins & minerals to help us grow and function properly. The consumption of a wide variety of food groups will typically provide the correct quantities of vital nutrients to optimize good health and well-being.
Diet and nutrition also play a vital role in the prevention of various diseases and illnesses, such as
hypertension, obesity, osteoporosis, dental issues, dementia, and nutritional anaemias.
Sports nutrition is an integral part of any athletes’ overall fitness, performance, and recovery. The diet has perhaps, the greatest primary impact with regard to exercise performance on its ability to support ongoing training & competition, to optimize energy stores, and to repair damaged muscle tissue.
Food has the ability to help sustain your training, and to make it more effective, as well as aid in the potential optimization of competition day performance via the provision of essential macronutrients and micronutrients. An individual’s diet will affect their health and physical performance now, and in the future (1).
An appropriate energy consumption is the pinnacle of any athletes’ diet (2), and a major factor in sporting performance, health, and ultimately, success. The overall diet of any athlete supports the body’s optimal functions and determines the volume of nutrients, as well as assisting in body composition manipulation (3). The energy requirements for an athlete will depend on numerous variables such as their age, weight, gender, lifestyle, health, training intensities, durations, cycles & phases, their competitive calendar, and their individual sport.
Nutrition and hydration strategies for ultra-endurance athletes are extremely individual and complex by nature due to the duration and distances derived in both training, and competitive events.
Physiological, psychological, and physical factors such as sleep deprivation, extreme fatigue, gastrointestinal distress, sickness, mood, and pain, are all potential factors which should be anticipated during such extreme and lengthy events, and then, such a complex multifaceted nutritional strategy becomes a whole lot more problematic to initiate. With so many other issues having an impact on nutrition and hydration behavioural habits, extreme endurance events can easily become just an eating and drinking competition with a plethora of non-scientific estimations, guesses, and incorrect decisions, which more than likely will lead to a substantial decrease in performance, and possibly an athletes’ health. The nutritional and hydration strategies which individuals choose will, without any doubt, influence their training and competition performance, whether it is the type of food/fluid, the amount of food/fluid, and/or the timing of ingestion, all three play a major role in exercise performance.
To fully optimize health and performance, water consumption is vital and the most important nutritional ergogenic aid. With regards to exercise, performance can significantly be reduced when ~2% or more body mass is lost through sweat (2). Sweat rates in athletes can vary substantially from 0.5-2.0L/h depending on such factors as temperature, body mass, exercise intensity, and personal sweat response.
Knowing what to eat and drink, how much to eat and drink, and when to eat and drink is key to initiating a periodized nutrition plan, and optimizing an athlete’s full potential in both training and competition. Optimal endurance performance requires precise consideration when concerning nutrient timing and intake (4), especially for ultra-endurance runners who have been found to be considerably insufficient in regard to meeting energy requirements during both training, and competition (5). Nutrient periodization does not need to be complex. The basis of periodizing nutrient intake follows alongside an existing exercise training program, and as long as eating patterns and behaviours alter with the energy expenditure of training to match the set goals, performance should be optimal (6).
Once a personal-level of understanding with regards to type, amount, and, timing of nutrients has been reached by the individual, then it is always a good next step to understand why…?
Why do we need to eat, what we eat to exercise, and what happens when we do?…
Diet and nutrition play a vital role in many areas of an athletes’ life, from improving training & competition to good health and disease prevention, which consequently, is the key to optimizing training & competition!
Even, with a food first approach, sports supplements are an integral part of many athletes’ nutrition and training plans. However, with today’s market of different makes, shakes, and broken promises…be aware of exactly what you choose to consume.
Here at Mountain Fuel® we provide a balanced sports nutrition supplement system designed to work alongside a well-balanced, food first approach training lifestyle to provide your body with the added nutrition and energy demands to cope with any type of physical activity. From adventure racing to triathlon, and from cycling to ultra-marathon running, the Mountain Fuel™ system provides sustained energy and recovery, whilst providing vital nutrients, vitamins & minerals to help optimize your performance!
Next time… ‘Macronutrients: The Good, The Bad, & The Kilocalorie?’
1-Kleiner, S.M. (2008). Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements. Totowa, NJ, USA, Springer
2-Kreider, R.B; Wilborn, C.D; Taylor, L; Campbell, B; Almada, A.L; Collins, R; Cooke, M; Earnest, C.P; Greenwood, M; Kalman, D.S; Kerksick1, C.M; Kleiner, S.M; Leutholtz, B; Lopez, H; Lowery, L.M; Mendel, R; Smith, A; Spano, M; Wildman, R; Willoughby, D.S; Ziegenfuss, T.N and Antonio, J. ISSN Exercise & Sport Nutrition Review: Research & Recommendations. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 7:7 (2010)
3-Thomas, D.T., Erdman, K. A. and Burke, L.M. Position of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Journal Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. 116 (3) 501-528 (2016)
4– Ormsbee, M.J; Bach, C.W and Baur, D.A. Pre-Exercise Nutrition: The Role of Macronutrients, Modified Starches and Supplements on Metabolism and Endurance Performance. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 6, 1782-1808 (2014)
5– Costa, R.J.S; Gill, S.K; Hankey, J; Wright, A and Marczak, S. Perturbed Energy Balance and Hydration Status in Ultra-Endurance Runners during a 24-Hour Ultra-Marathon. British Journal of Nutrition. 112, 428-437 (2014)
6– Seebohar, B. (2011). Nutrition Periodization for Athletes. (Second Ed.) CO, USA, Bull Publishing Company