exercise | September 16, 2017 | Author: Naturopath
It is well established that athletes need good nutrition, a balanced diet and sufficient hydration to enhance athletic performance. In addition to a healthy diet, many athletes frequently consume sport foods, defined by the Australian Institute of Sport as “specialised products used to provide a practical source of nutrients when it is impractical to consume everyday foods”. These include products such as rehydration solutions, sports drinks, energy gels, protein powders, and energy bars.
Rehydration solutions come as powders or tablets that are mixed in water, or ready made drinks, and typically contain sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium to replace electrolytes lost by sweat, vomiting or diarrhoea, and often glucose for energy. They can be used during or after exercise to restore fluid balance. Rehydration solutions are a preferred source of fluids to water for endurance athletes, particularly because they contain sodium.
Sodium is an electrolyte as it regulates your body's fluid balance. People who drink too much water while taking part in endurance sports are at an increased risk of diluting the sodium content of their blood - resulting in abnormally low sodium, a potentially life-threatening condition called hyponatraemia. It is still recommended to cosume water inbetween rehydration drinks.
Sports drinks are ready to drink flavoured drinks that contain carbohydrates and sodium (salt), and are different to juice or cordial. Sports drinks are not gimmicks, according to the Australian Institute of Sports. They are proven to improve fluid intake and athletic performance.
Energy gels are a highly concentrated, semi solid source of carbohydrates that give the athlete fuel while training or racing, in order to sustain their energy levels. Athletes need carbohydrates, as they are the primary energy source for the body, providing readily available fuel in the form of glucose. They are especially essential during prolonged continuous or high-intensity exercise. Most energy gels provide between 20-25 grams of carbohydrates, generally in the form of maltodextrin, glucose, fructose, or sucrose. Most contain other ingredients such as caffeine and electrolytes.
Studies of endurance cyclists and runners found that taking energy gels increased blood glucose levels and significantly improved their performance, especially when the exercise lasted longer than 60 minutes.
Protein is needed for muscle growth and maintenance, and is also vital in supporting muscle recovery and repair. While the daily recommended intake for healthy non-exercising men and women is 0.8g/kg, athletes have higher protein needs, depending on the intensity and the duration of their exercise program.
The International Society of Sports Nutrition recommends daily protein intakes of 1.0 - 1.6 g/kg for endurance athletes, and 1.6 - 2.0 g/kg for strength/power exercise.
Athletes who cannot easily achieve their increased protein requirements through their regular diet may choose to use supplements in the form of protein powders. However, endurance athletes may need a protein powder that will speed recovery from workouts, whereas athletes engaged in strength sports, such as weight lifting, may want to take a protein powder that specifically increases muscle mass and power.
Proteins are found in both animal and plant foods. Animal-based protein powders contain all of the essential amino acids that our body needs. Common sources include milk-derived whey protein, milk-derived casein, and egg. Whey protein has the highest content of essential amino acids, and comes in three different forms:
Plant-base protein powders are commonly derived from soy, rice and/or pea, of which only soy-based protein powders contain all of the essential amino acids and as such are considered to be of higher quality.
Ingesting protein immediately before exercise is beneficial for increasing muscle mass, while intake of protein within an hour following exercise is beneficial for recovery.
Energy bars - high in carbohydrates, moderate in proteins and low in fat to be used before, during or post endurance exercise. Pre workout bars should be low in fibre to prevent gastrointestinal problems during exercise.
Protein bars – high in protein and low in carbohydrates to be used as a snack after strength training.
Although they may have a healthy image, not all bars are created equal. Some sports bars are fortified with various vitamins and minerals, while others are loaded with fat or sugar. When choosing your bar, watch out for added sugars.
Australian Institute of Sport, 2009. Fluid - Who Needs It?, Available at: https://www.ausport.gov.au/ais/nutrition/fact_sheets/fluid_-_who_needs_it
Australian Institute of Sport, 2014. Electrolyte replacement supplements, Available at: https://www.ausport.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/594173/CORP_33413_SSF_Electrolyte_FS.PDF
Australian Institute of Sport, 2014. Sports Bars, Available at: https://www.ausport.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/594172/CORP_33413_SSF_Sports_Bars_FS.pdf
Australian Institute of Sport, 2014. Sports Gels, Available at: https://www.ausport.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/594171/CORP_33413_SSF_Sport_Gels_FS.pdf
Australian Institute of Sport, 2009. Recovery Nutrition. Available at: https://www.ausport.gov.au/ais/nutrition/fact_sheets/recovery_nutrition
Bupa, Energy Bars Information - Who Needs Them?. Available at: http://www.bupa.com.au/health-and-wellness/health-information/az-health-information/energy-bars-who-needs-them
Campbell, B. et al., 2007. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: protein and exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 4(1), p.8. Available at: http://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-4-8
Mayo Clinic Hyponatremia. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hyponatremia/basics/definition/con-20031445
National Institutes of Health 2017, Dietary Supplements for Exercise and Athletic Performance. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/ExerciseAndAthleticPerformance-HealthProfessional/
Sports dietitians Australia 2011. Protein and amino acid supplementation, Available at: https://www.sportsdietitians.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/110701-Protein-Supplementation_General.pdf
The Irish Sports Council, 2013. Sports Gels, Available at: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/53296b1be4b0f59c2976d2c8/t/554b7a4ce4b0c3e2c55a0439/1431009868013/Sports+Gels+Technical+Document.pdf