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Why Good Sports Nutrition Is Key To Training Performance

No matter what what your training objectives are, whether you are a professional athlete or frequent gym goer, if you do not support your training regime with an sufficient, healthy and balanced diet, then your hard work is more than likely going to waste. Read on to uncover why diet plays a crucial role in supporting your end results and why training and rest should always come second to nutrition.

It is common that novice trainers believe the actual workout is the most important area of enhancing performance. There is no doubt that training frequency, effort and how appropriate to your end target the routine itself is plays an important part, but is it the most vital ingredient.

There seems little sense in putting all that effort into your sessions, sweating severely and feeling drained after a workout, then not feeding the body the vital nutrition and rest it craves to repair and grow back bigger and stronger. This is where diet is crucial. Of course you are not going to get anywhere on diet solitary, but then does it not seem a squander of energy and effort if all the hard work is put in when in the gym and none whilst in the kitchen. If you are training for muscle and do not consume enough calories or protein in your daily diet do you think you will get bigger. If you are training for fat loss and are getting through chocolate or sweets all day do you think you will reach your goal. What about if you are competing for a marathon and neglect to feed the body optimum carbohydrates, do you think your body will recover well to improve on your time.

The most common diet when training should meet certain requirements. The most critical and obvious is to feed the body with the right energy and nutrients to satisfy the demands of the exact training regime followed. The best part of nutrition should come from whole foods, including protein from lean meats, eggs and nuts, carbohydrates from wholegrain breads, oats, pasta, then fruits and vegetables followed by healthy fats from eggs, nuts, and a mixture of seeds. The diet should provide quick and full recovery after workout, and provide plenty of fluids to provide maximum hydration, especially whilst training.

The recommended macros when exercising should be akin to when not training if a healthy and balanced diets maintained. The recommended daily energy ingestion from calories is to eat 50% from carbohydrates, 30% from protein and 20% from fats broken down into 6 to 8 small meals per day. This to help the body's metabolism runs at its optimum rate. Depending on your long term target you may want to adjust these fractions slightly, for example if losing body fat was your target you would more than likely decrease the carbohydrates to around 30 to 35% and up the fats. If you lower your calorie intake by too much you will begin to feel tired and lack stamina, which in turn will stall your training performance. 

To determine what you should be consuming based on the above belief you need to work out your daily rations from carbs, protein and fats based on your overall daily calorie intake. Every one gram of fat contains 9 calories, whereas every one gram of carbs and protein comprises of four calories. The average daily calorie intake recommendation for men is 2500, whereas for women it is 2000. Taking the men's recommendation, we can see that 50% of carbs equates to 1250 calories, 30% of protein equates to 750 calories and 20% of fat comes to 500 calories. Therefore, we now need to divide the 1250 calories from carbs by 4 (1 gram per 4 kcal) to get 312.5 grams of carbohydrates, divide 750 calories from protein (1 gram per 4 kcal) to get 187.5 grams of protein, and last but not least 500 calories from fat by 9 (1 gram per 9 kcal) to get 55.6 grams of fat. You can now begin to grasp that the average healthy balanced diet when training based on 2500 calories per day should consist of 312.5 grams of carbohydrates, 187.5 grams of protein and 55.6 grams of fat.

As already written, the main part of the diet should come from carbohydrates, particularly unrefined carbs like wholegrain foods. When the body digests carbohydrates, they are broken down into glucose, which is a simple sugar. Glucose generates the body's main source of energy, which the bloodstream transports to every cell in the body. Excessive glucose changes into a substance called glycogen, which is stored in the liver and muscle tissue. Once these glycogen stores are full, glucose starts to convert into fat, this storage process however that requires a lot of energy. This glycogen is the most important energy source for the body during extreme training. During training, the body uses the glucose stored in the blood as its main energy source by changing the stored glycogen back into glucose. Therefore, to increase the body's stores of glycogen you simply need to eat more carbohydrates. This is extremely important for those who train intensely for 60 to 90 minutes on a daily basis.

A meal high in carbohydrates should be eaten up to an hour prior any training activity as studies show it can have a beneficial effect on performance. The exact timing depends on the individual as eating so soon before exercise can have a negative effect on some peoples glucose levels. Ingesting sugary foods with a high glycaemic index prior to training is not practical, it may give the body an quick boost of energy, however the chances are the body will become lethargic during exercise. Low GI carbohydrates (wholegrain, oats) are best suited as they generate a sustained release of energy. Foods with a high glycaemic index are advisable within an hour after training to top up glycogen levels and compliment, followed later by foods high in carbohydrates with a low glycaemic index. 

Protein is the second most critical ingredient when it comes to training, especially if the aim is to increase muscle mass. It plays a key role in recovery and repair. The daily recommendation of protein intake is 1 to 2 grams of protein per kg of body weight for those undertaking sporting activities. It can be quite difficult to get the right levels of protein into your daily diet, which is why protein supplements are so popular these days. An average protein shake can provide 20 to 30 grams of protein per serving. Too much protein however can be potentially dangerous to long-term health. Studies show that a diet high in protein only can put serious strain on the kidneys and compromise bone density.

In summary, whether you are a professional or amateur athlete, a bodybuilder, or a dedicated daily gym goer, a well-balanced and adequate diet provides the fundamentals to improved performance. Carbohydrates should form the foundations of any diet, and a diet too high in protein is not advisable. To improve energy levelsScience Articles, you can increase the amount of glycogen stored in the body through consuming more carbohydrates.

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Ben Wain wrote this article regarding the importance of diet and nutrition when training. He is a member of the My Training Supplements team, a sports nutrition UK comparison, diet and training advice site. Sign up for up to date supplement offers, reviews and more great advice to help your reach your diet and training goals.

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