Last Updated on April 26, 2022 by Nutritionist
Athletic performance and nutrition are highly integrated factors. When it comes to performing your best on the ground, your diet plays a vital role. Athletes often find themselves underperforming even after rigorous sessions of training and practice. Well, the answer to this can be poor nutrition. More than ever, the importance of consuming a healthy diet has been increasing. The nutrients that you supply to your body decide your physical performance and recovery times. Tremendous stress, fatigue, and metabolic waste are accumulated during exercise or training. Therefore, a balanced, nutritious, and wholesome diet is necessary to recover your body from all these factors.
Let’s spot the signs of poor nutrition for athletes and understand its impact on recovery and performance.
Signs of poor nutrition that you can’t ignore
- Frequent Injury – During strength training, your muscles break down, leading to microscopic tears in your muscles. These muscles need a protein-rich, nutritious diet to recover and build up again. Failing to supply the muscles with proper nutrition and training without recovery is the straightforward cause of frequent injury.
Besides, frequent injuries are also caused by decreased endurance, which is again a cause of poor nutrition. Carbohydrates are the powerhouse of energy. Lack of carbs in the diet makes athletes feel less energetic and turn down their performance. Therefore, low energy and rigorous workouts are the recipe for injury.
- Illness – Athletes undergo intense training sessions that exert enormous metabolic demands on their bodies. To suffice these metabolic demands, the body needs significant energy. When these demands are not met, the immunity is negatively impacted and becomes a cause of illness in sports athletes.
Additionally, physical workouts release stress hormones in our body. These hormones further push the body’s energy stores for growth. However, if these stress hormones are produced in abundance, they may impair your immunity.
Therefore, nutrition high in protein, carbs, fats, and vitamins is essential to maintain immunity and gut health and avoid any susceptible illness.
- Overtraining Syndrome/Decreased Performance – A condition where physical performance is massively impacted in spite of heavy workouts and which causes prolonged durations of fatigue, mood changes, sleep disorders, and other physiological factors is called the overtraining syndrome.
Although numerous factors contribute to the overtraining syndrome, poor nutrition is still a considerable one. When the body is not fueled with the necessary nutrients, it can take months to recover from overtraining syndrome fatigue. Furthermore, oxidative and inflammatory stress is a result of overtraining. These can be reduced by sufficient intake of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, respectively.
- Poor bone health – Sports athletes require robust bone health to resist the injuries and sustain them during games and training. However, poor bone health can be a clear sign of an incomplete diet that lacks essential nutrients like calcium, phosphorous, and other micronutrients.
Therefore, the absence of these nutrients can make your bones vulnerable to fractures as the bone leach out calcium and turn brittle.
How a healthy, balanced diet can unlock your body's potential?
In sports nutrition, a healthy and nutritious diet has got paramount importance. Our body needs three macronutrients – protein, carbohydrates, and fats. These three pillars are vital to support and push your body beyond limits to showcase exceptional performance. These three macronutrients are crucial because protein helps rebuild the muscle broken down during training, and complex carbohydrates and fats assist in supplying energy to the body. Essentially, carbohydrates offer glycogen stores and blood glucose, which is helpful when carrying out intense training and prolonged workouts.
Besides, when it comes to micronutrients, calcium, B12, magnesium, Vitamin D, etc., also optimize and enhance the athlete’s performance. The deficiency of these micronutrients has effects like compromised endurance, soreness of the back, shortness of breath, cramps, muscles aches, and weakness.
Lastly, the correct hydration is equally necessary for athletes. According to ISSN (International Society of Sports Nutrition), individuals losing more than 2% of their body weight as sweat can experience a negative impact on their performance. The electrolytes and other fluids lost from the body should be replenished with water or sports drinks to maintain consistency in performance.
Bottom Line –
Nutrition is the foundation of exceptional physical performance. If the foundation is strong, the performance will inevitably be outstanding. Athletes need to consider diet as a major contributor to their peak performance. Every athlete will have different macro and micronutrient requirements. They need a tailored diet plan for which they should consult a sports nutritionist.
A sports nutritionist will guide athletes on what and how much should they eat to achieve optimum performance and ensure comprehensive progress in their sport’s journey. Besides, they also guide sports athletes on meal timings and advise for any dietary supplements if required.
Schedule an appointment for a free diet consultation by XLR8’s expert nutritionist.
Nt Shruti Sethna
Certified Sports Nutritionist