Sports Dietitian Tips: Back to the Basics of Sports Nutrition
Your general, day-to-day diet for training is just as important, if not MORE important, than your competition-day nutrition
As a Sports Dietitian, it is no surprise I spend lots of time talking about sports nutrition for both training benefits and performance. Competitive and recreational athletes put so much effort into their physical training, but many do not see the results they desire because of improper fueling strategies.
However, performance-specific strategies (what to eat before, during, and after a workout or competition in addition to considering supplements) are much less effective if your day-to-day nutrition practices are out of whack.
Let me explain it this way. If you got sick and your doctor got you to take 5 different medications to help you get better, would you know what medication worked for you? No, you wouldn’t. Likely, you would try one medication at a time.
That is the same approach to take with performance-focused nutrition. Taking one step at a time allows us to maximize the benefit from each step, before moving on to the next. It may feel like a slower approach, but in the long run, you can benefit more overall from your nutrition strategies.
Performance nutrition has to start with good overall daily nutrition and hydration practices.
Assess your everyday training diet with these questions:
It may sound overly simple, but here are some initial questions to use as a method of evaluating your current nutrition practices before implementing any performance-specific nutrition strategies.
1. Do you eat a balanced diet? This includes the following:
- Protein sources such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy, beans, legumes, nuts, quinoa, tofu, etc
- Carbohydrate sources such as rice, pasta, lentils, bread, oats, cereal, potatoes, etc
- Lots of colorful foods such as fruits and vegetables
- Sources of fats such as avocados, fish, oils, butter, nuts, seeds, cheese, nut butter, etc.
2. Do you consume some form of protein at all of your meals and most of your snacks?
It’s important to include a protein in all of your meal and snacks.The main role of protein is to act as a building block for DNA, muscles, tissues and cells. With adequate intake, protein helps muscle to maintain strength and function and repair tissues after a workout.
3. Do you consume some form of carbohydrate at all of your meals and most of your snacks?
Pair your protein with form of carbohydrate. Carbohydrates are a source of energy. Learn more about carboyhydrates with this guide.
4. Do you have good hydration strategies in place?
- Do you carry a water bottle when you go to school/work or travel?
- Does the color of your urine stay consistent throughout the day as a pale yellow (lemonade looking)?
- Do you have water or fluids with all of your meals and snacks?
- Do you drink fluids before, during, and after your workouts or training?
Struggle to drink enough water? Here are some tips.
5. Do you avoid skipping meals and going a long time between eating?
- Are you eating in a way that prevents you from getting too hungry or way too full?
6. Do you eat enough for consistent energy levels?
- Do you ever have a hard time focusing on simple tasks?
- Do you need naps during the day?
- Do you have adequate energy for your workouts as the week goes on? Or do your energy levels plummet later in the week?
Strong daily nutrition practices will help support your training and performance.
Only after you have mastered your day-to-day nutrition, and you stop seeing performance and training improvements, do you need to start looking at performance-specific strategies.
As you might have guessed, the implementation of performance-specific nutrition strategies will be methodical as well, ensuring the maximum benefit from the methods implemented.
Bonus tips for all athletes: SLEEP! A key factor for performance that should not be underestimated.
Stuck on ideas of what to eat? Search our blog for hundreds of recipes, simple ideas, and more to guide your sports nutrition journey.
Looking to maximize your performance through nutrition? Our experienced sport nutritionists on our team can help.
Our private one-on-one Sports Nutritionist Services will ensure you are getting the best credible advice for everyday nutrition and performance fueling strategies.
Learn more about our Sports Dietitian counselling services here: Athlete Sports Nutrition Counseling or simply contact us below to see how we can help:
Disordered Eating, Emotional Eating & Sports Nutrition
Fitness enthusiast and lover of all things food, Jana is passionate about helping her clients improve their relationship with food and their body. She is a strong, motivational leader. Jana also offers the balance of a warm, supportive coaching style to nudge her clients from their comfort zone while feeling safe and supported. She specializes in mental health, eating disorders, body image and sports nutrition.