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How is sports nutrition and performance interrelated?

Nutrition is a major component for optimal sporting performance. Optimizing intakes and compositions of macronutrients, micronutrients and fluids and distributing them throughout the day are the dietary strategies to enhance performance. These differ with the type of sport, personal goals and other practicalities like food preferences of an athlete. This is where personalised dietary advice comes into play.

Carbohydrate ingestion or a carbohydrate mouth rinse in events lasting approximately 1 hour has proved beneficial. In longer events, carbohydrates improve performance and also prevent hypoglycemia.

As per the best nutritionist in Mumbai, consumption of a high carbohydrate diet inhibits fat utilization during exercise like in that of ultra-endurance exercise. When dietary carbohydrate is reduced to a level that promotes ketosis, optimum fat oxidation occurs. This may hamper high-intensity activities by the reduction in pyruvate dehydrogenase and glycogenolytic activity.

Protein intake before and during endurance and resistance exercise has shown to enhance the rates of muscle protein synthesis. However, the consumption of carbohydrate along with protein helps the protein to bet absorbed better by the body and helps in muscle build-up.

Nutrition for athletes and how they are interrelated

Fluid consumption during exercise maintains hydration and thermoregulation as there is an associated risk of oxidative stress with dehydration. Fluids are consumed prior to exercise to make sure that the athlete is well-hydrated before the exercise. A careful planner hyper-hydration strategy before the event may help in resetting the fluid balance and increase fluid retention in the body to improve the body’s tolerance to heat. However, fluid-overloading may increase the chances of an athlete being hyponatremic and it also negatively impacts the performance by making the athlete feel full and increases the frequency of urination.

Hydration requirement depends on the sweat loss which is variable from athlete to athlete and also determined by the type and duration of exercise and surrounding temperature. Loss of sodium is associated with high temperatures and in events of long duration or in hot temperatures, sodium must be replenished along with the fluids given in order to decrease the risk for hyponatremia.

Research has found that nitrate, beta-alanine and vitamin D help improve athletic performance. Nitrate is commonly found as sodium nitrate in beetroot juice. Dietary nitrates are reduced in the mouth and stomach to nitrites which are further converted to nitric oxide. During exercise, nitric oxide helps improve skeletal muscle function by regulating blood flow, glucose metabolism, and mitochondrial respiration. Nitrate supplementation during an endurance exercise has shown a reduction in the VO2 max which indicated an increase in exercise efficiency and reduced fatigue and oxidative stress.

Beta-alanine has multiple performance-enhancing functions like the reduction of acidosis, calcium regulation, and antioxidant properties. Beta-alanine may also enhance power output and work capacity and lessen fatigue. However, safety issues with its use are still a question.

Vitamin D is mainly responsible for better bone health by regulation of calcium homeostasis and is also important for muscle strength, regulation of immune system and improvement of cardiovascular health suggesting that an inadequate vitamin D status has potential implications on overall health and performance of athletes.

In order to maximize the rates of muscle glycogen synthesis, carbohydrates are consumed immediately after exercise to match with the initial phase of rapid glycogen synthesis. Delayed feeding by 2 hours reduces the glycogen synthesis rates.

A transient increase in the protein turnover can occur due to an acute bout of intense endurance or resistance exercise and the protein balance remains negative until feeding is done. Protein intake post-exercise enhances muscle protein synthesis and maintains a net protein balance by increasing the number of mitochondria in the cells with endurance training and an increase in myofibrillar protein with resistance training.

Fluid and electrolyte replacement is crucial after exercise and can be achieved through well-though hydration strategies. However, when an athlete needs hydration within 24 hours or in cases where substantial body weight is lost (>5% of BMI) post exercise, a more rigid plan is required to replace both fluid and electrolytes.

There are a variety of portals from which an athlete can acquire nutritional information. Younger or recreational athletes are more likely to receive generalized poor quality nutritional information as compared to elite athletes who are likely to have access to specialized sports nutrition information from qualified professionals. However, even at an elite level, all athletes may not have access to sports nutrition services due to financial constraints, geographical issues and a lack of recognition of the value of a sports nutrition service.

Athletes eat multiple meals along with snacks to meet their energy requirements. Dietary intake varies with the type of sport, type of training and carbohydrate requirements, especially in weight-conscious.

Athletes get their nutritional information from dieticians, nutritionists, medical practitioners, sports scientists, coaches, trainers and from sources like nutrition education programs, sporting magazines, the media, and the internet.

There is a range of dietary strategies available which athletes look for to improve performance. Studies from the best nutritionist in Hyderabad explains dietary recommendations and counseling should be individualized for each athlete according to their sport and delivered by a qualified professional to ensure optimal performance. Dietary supplements must be used with caution as a part of an overall nutrition and performance plan. 

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