Peak Performance and Nutrition – Why It Really Matters! – words Alan Woods
Many people believe that they can get fit with exercise alone and often neglect the most important part of being healthy – nutrition. The truth is, what we eat does matter, because it can affect the manner in which you exercise and how much you can exercise.
Subsequently, nutrition will have a drastic impact on your overall fitness. To learn more about nutrition, and why it plays such a crucial role for our peak performance, be sure to read on.
Carbohydrates & Energy
Anyone who wants to lose weight starts to eliminate carbohydrates from their diet. In some cases, they actually eliminate too many carbohydrates from their diet, which could actually hinder their sports performance and their weight loss progress all-together!
Our body needs carbohydrates to get energy, because these compounds are broken down within the body to acquire energy, more specifically into substances such as glucose. When we consume carbohydrates, the body can also store these carbohydrates to be used as energy later, for example as glycogen in our brain and muscles. It is important to know that carbohydrates can only be stored in certain amounts, so if you deprive your body of carbohydrates for a long period of time, the body will have no means to create energy. Therefore, the body will start looking at other structures to obtain the energy it needs. Unfortunately, these other structures are often muscles, which means that a diet too low in carbohydrates could damage your health instead of improving your health. Therefore, always make sure you incorporate Carbohydrates into your nutrition, even if you are on a low-calorie diet, says Nutrients Direct .
Protein for Better Performance and Health
Many athletes around the world will be able to tell you that protein is the number one nutrient you need in your diet for better sports performance and health. The main role of protein within the human body is the growth, repair and maintenance of cells and tissues, which includes the most important tissue for our sports performance – muscle tissue.
There are many different ways to obtain protein from foods, but also from protein supplements, often providing you with a tremendous amount of protein. However, do not forget to incorporate protein from food sources into your diet either, for example proteins obtained from meat, fish, eggs, milk and chicken.
Please take into consideration that some protein-rich foods are also high in saturated fats. That being said, there are some ways around that, because many stores are now offering lean meats instead of the calorie heavy regular meats.
Fats Are Still Necessary
During your journey towards a healthier you, do not forget that fats are still an essential part of your diet. However, the amount of fat you need to eat on a daily basis is considerably less than other nutrients such as carbohydrates and protein.
The main thing to focus on is the reduction of saturated fats and only eat so-called ‘healthy fats’; this means you may have to cut back on things such as ice-cream, butter, processed meats, fried foods and savoury snacks. Fortunately, there are many alternatives in stores nowadays. Simply look for foods marked as “lean” or contain a label with ‘no saturated fats”.
Drink Plenty of Water
The importance of staying hydrated to obtain a healthier physique cannot be stressed enough. Hydration is needed to perform better during your training, but also to ensure maximum muscle repair and muscle maintenance once your training has ended. Of course, the amount of fluid you are going to need can depend on numerous factors; this includes but is not limited to the duration of your training, the temperature of the environment and how much you tend to sweat. Therefore, always have a thorough look at the amount of liquids you are drinking to determine if you are getting enough for optimal performance.
Consume Your Foods at the Right Time
Having the proper nutrition to get a better physique is just one side of the coin, because the time you need to consume certain foods is also important. For example, if you eat foods with a higher fat content before your training, you will notice that your training does not go well at all. Instead, you will feel sluggish and experience a lack of energy. Instead, eat a carbohydrate-rich food at least 2 to 3 hours before your training to ensure you have enough energy. However, do not forget your protein-rich snack or supplement after your training, since this promotes better muscle recovery and muscle repair.
The statements made above certainly prove that nutrition is more important for increased sports performance than you might think. Through a combination of the right nutrition and the right amount of exercise, you can find the way towards your fitter self!
 “Nutrition for sport and exercise”, NUTRITION (2016), available here