The module I have currently been studying for my sports nutrition course has been very interesting. It’s been quite complex, but I would like to very briefly summarise a few basics for you. Firstly foods contain carbohydrates, proteins and fats. These are macronutrients. Not all macronutrients are created equal in terms of the calories they provide and therefore the energy they supply when broken down in the body. For example 1g carbohydrate or protein provides you with 4cal of energy compared to 9cal from 1g fat. In terms of fuel for exercise, carbohydrates are very important and recommended amounts should be calculated according to your body weight. The carbs are stored as glycogen in your liver and muscles and they need to be replenished each day to maintain steady blood sugar levels.
Proteins are made up of amino acids; these amino acids are used as the building blocks for new tissues and to repair the cells in your body. Athletes have a higher protein requirement than you average Jo, however if there is one main thing I have learnt from this module for my own training and diet its that it doesn’t mean if you consume more protein than your requirements, you will get stronger and more muscular! And excess can actually lead to adverse effects on your health as with anything. It’s recommended to consume between 20-25g of protein each meal or post workout and if you consume it straight after your workout combined with some carbohydrate it can help aid optimal recovery and muscle building. An athlete should aim to consume 1.2-1.7g protein per kg bodyweight per day and a non athlete (sedentary person) 0.75g per kg bodyweight per day.
Lastly you need fat in your diet. Some fats (essential fats: omega 3 and 6) can’t be made by the body, this means it’s very important we consume them instead and failure to do so can lead to nutrient deficiencies. Omega 3 can be found in foods such as oily fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines), flaxseeds and sunflower seeds. It has many benefits, a few include helping to increase the amount of oxygen delivered to your muscles, aiding muscle recovery and reducing inflammation. Omega 6 can be found in sunflower oil, safflower oil, pumpkin seeds walnuts and sesame seeds.
Fats are also used as energy stores and for hormonal function. For an athlete it’s recommended to consume between 20-35% of their daily calorie intake as fat and for general population less than 35% of total calorie intake.
Drop me any questions and comments you may have!