Sports nutrition is the science that deals with strategies of nutrition and diet important to improve athletic performance. This helps sportsmen prepare as well as recover from sports events and competitions.
The important principles of sports nutrition include the following:
- FUELLING- It refers to providing adequate food and nutrients to the body to improve stamina, endurance and strength
- HYDRATION- It refers to providing water and electrolytes to the body to prevent dehydration and muscular fatigue
- RECOVERY- It refers to recovery after training and exercise which helps build lean muscle mass and stamina
Sports supplements are those products that compliment your diet to achieve the principles of sports nutrition. The use of these supplements will vary based on your age, gender, level of training/physical activity, lifestyle and diet.
v Benefits of sports nutrition supplements
- Helps in increasing endurance
- Helps in reducing fatigue and dehydration
- Promotes muscle growth
- Helps in decreasing muscle soreness and tiredness
- Helps in preventing injury
- Helps to build immunity
- Helps in muscle healing and recovery
- Helps increase the energy levels
- Helps to increase focus and attention span
v Types of sports supplements
- SPORTS DRINKS
They help in the replacement of electrolytes and fluid that is lost in sweat during activity. They may also contain an instant energy source (glucose or amino acids such as BCAA -Branched chain amino acids) to provide fuel for working muscles.
Whether one is looking for weight or lean muscle gains, these supplements provide a mix of carbohydrates, protein and fat with micronutrients to ensure an easier way to increase calorie intake. Some of them also contains enzymes to ease digestion, vitamins and minerals as well as other functional ingredients.
- PROTEIN SUPPLEMENTS
These sports supplements provide the additional protein required by sportsperson which is easy to digest and rapidly absorbed by the body. Protein helps stimulate muscle protein synthesis and helps prevent muscle breakdown after an exercise. It is best consumed within 30 minutes post workout. Protein supplements include whey protein, which is most popular, followed by casein, soya proteins and lentil proteins.
- PERFORMANCE –ENHANCING SUPPLEMENTS OR ERGOGENIC AIDS
These are certain supplements that contain one or more dietary ingredients like vitamins, minerals, protein, amino acids and herbs which can be taken by mouth in the form of pill, capsule, tablet, liquid or powder. Sportspersons can take these supplements to improve their athletic performance such as strength, focus, endurance and speed. They can be consumed either as pre workouts or post workouts. These help to fill nutritional gaps in the daily diet of a sport’s person to ensure that they perform at their optimum. The most common and effective ingredients included in these supplements are as follows:
- B vitamins
They are a group of water-soluble vitamins that have to be supplemented daily to release energy in the body. They do so by metabolising carbohydrates, proteins and fats included in the diet. This group consists of the following vitamins: vitamin B1(thiamine), vitamin B2(riboflavin), vitamin B3(niacin), vitamin B5(calcium pantothenate), vitamin B6(pyridoxine), vitamin B9(folic acid) and vitamin B12(cobalamin).
- Calcium and vitamin D
These sports nutrition supplements are required for the maintenance of healthy strong bones, teeth and muscles. Thus, reducing the risk of injuries like bone fractures. Vitamin D is a hormone essential for the absorption of calcium. It also improves immunity and reduces inflammation.
It is essential for transporting oxygen throughout the body thus helping muscles to perform optimally. The deficiency of this mineral can reduce the endurance of the sportsperson and impact physical performance. Its deficiency is more common in females as compared to males. Iron deficiency is also more commonly seen in athletes who follow a vegetarian/vegan diet.
It helps in increasing muscle mass and improves strength, thereby increasing exercise capacity and ability to perform repeated high-intensity exercises. Ensure that you stay well hydrated while consuming creatine.
- Coenzyme Q10
It is an enzyme that helps in generating energy in the body which works at the cellular level. Thus, it helps in improving physical performance and reducing muscle fatigue.
It helps in improving the endurance of the sportsperson and functions as an adaptogen.
It works as a stimulant, helping to stay focused. It may also help your body’s ability to burn fat via lipolysis. Caffeine works to increase the body temperature (through thermogenesis), thereby increasing the calories one burns. It is a very popular pre workout supplement.
L-Carnitine has been popularly associated with fat oxidation and hereby facilitates maintaining a healthy weight.
Medium chain Triglycerides
- These contain short fatty acid chains that act as a quick source of energy to the body. They may also reduce lactic acid build up during exercise allowing you to increase your activity duration.
- Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, fish oil has shown to help improve one’s ability to exercise by aiding recovery.
- HMB supports the muscle protein synthesis which helps to build lean body mass.
Dietary supplements are a medium to meet your daily requirements when your diet is deficient in what you require. Whether you are an active adult or sportsperson, based on your goals, lifestyle and current health status, you can take a health professionals advice to assess and ensure the supplements you take compliments your diet to help you function at your optimal.