Proper sports nutrition is vital for athletes and other physically active individuals. Without proper nutrition, training and recovery can be more difficult, and an athlete’s performance may be hindered!
To help you better understand what sports nutrition is, why it’s important and how to maintain good nutrition as an athlete, we’ve put together this guide.
What is sports nutrition?
Sports nutrition refers to the study, development and implementation of a nutrition plan designed specifically for athletes and active individuals. The goal of a sports nutrition plan is to increase athletic performance.
Energy levels are impacted by the foods we eat, when we eat, how much we eat, as well as individual requirements. Thus, a sports nutrition plan considers these factors to help maximize energy and endurance and assist with recovery.
There are three key nutritional elements to any sports nutrition plan.
- Macronutrients such as carbs, protein and fats. These macronutrients provide the body with the fuel it needs to perform well. Thus, a proper intake of carbohydrates, protein, fats, etc., is extremely important for athletes.
- Micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Many vitamins and minerals are essential for good athletic performance. However, calcium, vitamin D and iron are three of the most critical. A proper sports nutrition plan will ensure athletes consume appropriate amounts of these micronutrients.
- Fluids. Water is another important nutrient for athletes. Therefore, a sports nutrition plan will also focus on water consumption and ensuring adequate hydration.
Why is sports nutrition important?
By consuming the right balance of food, liquids and nutrients, athletes can perform at their best. Thus, a good nutrition plan is the key to success!
Proper sports nutrition also ensures that athletes and other active individuals remain in good health. Physical activity and intense training can diminish nutrients like vitamin C, B vitamins and other important minerals. A lack of vitamins, minerals and nutrients can cause health concerns and limit one’s ability to train and compete. Therefore, athletes must pay close attention to the levels of these nutrients in their bodies.
The Benefits of Sports Nutrition
Proper nutrition is essential in day-to-day life – and even more important for athletes and active individuals. Nutrition impacts mental and physical health, both of which are important in athletic performance. Thus, a proper sports nutrition plan has many benefits, including:
- Optimizing training
- Strengthening the immune system
- Reducing the risk of injury
- Increasing energy levels/decreasing fatigue
- Contributing to healing and recovery
- Improving focus and attention
How can vitamins and supplements help?
Vitamins and supplements can be a valuable part of a sports nutrition plan and help athletes unlock their full potential.
Most athletes can consume the nutrients they need through food. However, in some cases, supplements are necessary to ensure athletes retain proper levels of specific vitamins and minerals.
Some of the most common supplements for athletes include:
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B-12
- Folic acid (folate)
Where to Find Sports Nutrition Supplements and Vitamins
You can find sports nutrition supplements and vitamins at your local health food store. Are you located in Edmonton or the surrounding area? Check out Vitality Health Foods for the largest selection of nutritional supplements and vitamins for athletes!
Be sure to discuss any vitamins or supplements you are considering with your doctor, dietician or trainer before adding them to your diet. This will ensure they fit into your sports nutrition plan and that you can perform at your best!