Nutrition and Hydration Strategies

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Adequate nutrition and hydration practices and strategies employed by athletes can mean the difference between effective and inadequate preparation for training and competition. When it comes to nutrition, adequate supplies of macro- and micro-nutrients are important for all sorts of bodily functions. Peak Preparation recommends a food-first approach to nutrition where dietary supplements should only be taken when food alone is not adequate to deal with a dietary deficiency. For endurance sports, glycogen in the muscles & liver are needed to support energy demands and promote recovery for the multiple training sessions. Dietary carbohydrate (CHO) is the primary source for the body to manufacture glucose prior to its conversion to stored glycogen in the muscles. Peak Preparation will assist you to understand why refuelling CHO stores post exercise is important and will provide general guidelines on how to effectively replenish CHO stores.

Team sports are often demanding stop-and-go sports where the energy demands of the player are constantly changing. The skeletal muscles that allow athletes to move in the ways needed to effectively stop and go are most impressive in their ability to handle this spectrum of energy demands. The brain also benefits from proper nutrition and is heavily influenced by what an athlete eats and drinks. Peak Preparation can introduce you to the nutritional guidelines and goals have been established for stop-and-go sports, realising that each player is an individual and will need one-on-one attention. As a general guideline, recovery nutrition right after training or competition should include ~1-1.2g carbohydrate/kg body mass/hr and 20-25g of protein to help muscles replenish the body stores of glycogen and increase muscle protein synthesis. A proper meal should follow 1-3 hours after exercise.

Aside from CHO, protein and fat are essential nutrients for the working body. Protein is the largest component in the body after water, typically representing about 15% of body weight. Most of this protein mass is found in skeletal muscle, which explains the importance of protein to athletes. Fats on the other hand have more calories per gram than both protein and carbohydrates however play a crucial role in our health. Joint structure, cell membranes, and hormonal production are all dependent on adequate intake of healthy fats. The timing of CHO, protein and fat in and around training and competition can help maximize sporting results. Fats are digested much slower than protein and CHO, so eating a fatty meal before, during, or immediately after a workout or game is not optimal. Carbohydrates should be eaten closer to physical activity because the fast absorption means they can be used immediately. This is also true of Protein to ensure it is absorbed quickly to maximize muscle growth. Peak Preparation will give you practical recommendations for what to eat and when before, during, and after exercise.

Water is the most vital nutrient that we consume. Besides being a medium for cellular processes that occur in the body, water is the main component of blood, which is responsible for transporting nutrients and oxygen to tissues of the body. Water is also important for dissipating heat through evaporation from the skin. In addition to the role of water in survival, athletic performance can be compromised by only slight changes in hydration status. Dehydration in athletes may lead to fatigue, poor performance, decreased coordination and muscle cramping. A body weight loss of as little as 2% or more during exercise via evaporation of sweat can result in marked physiological changes which lead to a reduction in exercise performance. Peak Preparation can assist you with strategies to keep pace with sweat rates through urine checks and pre-& post training weighing. You will learn how to replace more fluid than what has been lost through frequent small volumes of fluid intake, and the importance of replacing sodium at the same time to maintain the body’s salt/water balance and limit the net fluid loss.