Sports Dietitian Tips: Back to the Basics of Sports Nutrition
Your everyday training diet is as important as performance specific strategies
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 really know what medication actually 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 ensure that we maximize the benefit from each step, before moving on to the next. It may feel like a slower approach, but in the long run, it means you can get more overall benefit from your nutrition strategies.
Performance nutrition has to start with good overall daily nutrition and hydration practices.
Questions to ask to assess your everyday training diet
It may sound overly simple, but here are some initial questions to use as a method of evaluating your current nutrition practices prior to 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 snack?
3. Do you consume some form of carbohydrate at all of your meals and most of your snacks?
4. Do you have good hydration strategies in place?
- Do you carry a water bottle with you when you go to school/work or travel?
- Does the color of your urine stay consistent throughout the day as a pale yellow?
- 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?
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 in nature as well, ensuring the maximum benefit from methods implemented.
Bonus tips for all athletes: SLEEP! A key factor for performance that should not be underestimated.
Looking for more Sports Dietitian advice?
We can help! Our private one-on-one Sports Dietitian advice will ensure you are getting the best credible advice for everyday nutrition and performance fueling strategies. Find out more about our Sports Dietitian services here: Athlete Sports Nutrition Counseling.
You might also want to check out these previous Sports Nutritionist articles on our blog:
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.