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Athletic Performance

Wednesday, 26 April 2017 14:59:00 Europe/London

When it comes to athletic performance, or any kind of exercise for that matter, nutrition plays a crucial role in helping you perform optimally. If you don’t support your training/performance efforts with the correct nutrition it is not uncommon to experience detrimental effects such as fatigue, loss of strength/stamina, loss of speed, and problems with weight management and inadequate energy intake. It’s unbelievable how hard some people push themselves in the gym, on the track, in the pool or out on the road, and I commend them for that, but don’t prioritise their diet. They think because they are working hard the results will look after themselves. Don’t get me wrong, these people probably eat relatively well in terms of avoiding trans and saturated fats and consuming plenty of fruit and veg each day (which is something to be said in this day and age with the amount of processed food etc available to us). BUT, there is a big difference between eating healthy and eating for performance. I have friends that are personal trainers and friends that are professional nutritionists and whether the client wants to lose weight, gain muscle, run faster, or last longer, the first question both of them ask is the same, ‘what is your diet like?’.

My favourite quote at the moment ‘abs are made in the kitchen not the gym’ is very true. Too often people bust their balls in the gym or out on the training field and wonder why they aren’t losing weight, why they haven’t increased their muscle mass/size or why they can’t cut down their 10K time, and this is normally because the first thing they’ve done is looked at their training program before looking at the most important bit which is their diet! Don’t get me wrong, I do not want to take the fact that these people are working hard to achieve their goals away from them, but I do want to emphasise how important a diet that meets your energy needs is. I know for a fact the hardest thing I find about training is being strict in what to eat, spending a good couple of hours on a Sunday and in the middle of the week prepping food so that I stay on track and eat meals that will aid my performance goals.

Like I said, for some reason it always seems to be about the training program before the diet. Sound nutritional practices and well-designed patterns of eating are not awarded the same priority as training and many people fail to recognise that poor eating habits may detract from performance. I think the first and most important thing you can do if you feel like your goals have come to a halt or you can’t quite shake that last bit of fat, or you’re struggling to perform maximally at the end of a football math is to log food and fluid intake thoroughly so you can see what, when, and how much you eat and drink. This way you can then start to prioritise your meals around your training/performance event so that you have adequate fuel which will decrease the likelihood of fatigue and increase performance during exercise. It is no secret that strength, speed, and stamina are clearly enhanced with adequate fuel rather than without. If you want to evaluate your own nutritional practices, start by asking yourselves the following questions:

What do you eat and drink before training/performance events?

When do you eat/drink before training/performance events?

What do you eat and drink during training/performance events?

What do you eat/drink after training/performance events?

How soon do you eat/drink after training/performance events?

Many people are guilty of not fuelling correctly before training/performing. Some people for example go and train immediately after they have finished work but the last time they ate was at lunch. Relying on what you ate at lunchtime to fuel your session in the gym is only going to go one way. Firstly, you can’t ask your body to perform maximally when it doesn’t have the fuel to do so in the first place and secondly, your body will quickly use up the limited amount of carbohydrates it has left and start eating into muscle (protein) in order to provide you with energy. Now ask yourself why you aren’t gaining any more muscle mass even your training hypertrophy 6 times a week! The most common reasons people don’t achieve their training/performance goals include consuming not or little food/fluid before exercise, waiting too long to refuel/hydrate following exercise and choosing the wrong dietary items for fuelling/recovery.

In the next instalment we will discuss the pre exercise, during exercise and recovery nutrition...

Posted in News By

Mike