The food that you need to eat is very specific to you, your physiological make-up as well as the amount (and kind of) activity that you do. So, before we tell you what type of nutrition you, as a sports conditioning coach, should be recommending to your athletes, let’s first look at what the different food groups are and what these are responsible for.
Important nutrients for athletes
The five food groups
Carbohydrates give us energy, calcium and B vitamins. Wholegrain carbohydrates – such as whole-wheat bread and bran cereal – help to keep our digestive systems healthy.
Protein is known for its ability to help repair muscles. Colloquially, they are known as the building blocks of the human body.
Milk and dairy products
Milk and dairy products keep our bones and teeth healthy. They are responsible for providing us with – among others – essential nutrients such as vitamin B12, vitamin A and vitamin D
Fruit and vegetables
Fruit and vegetables are responsible for giving us umpteen minerals such as antioxidants which keep our bodies healthy. These foods keep your digestive system functioning well and studies have shown that the minerals in fruit and vegetables may even function in helping to prevent certain cancers.
Fats and sugars
All fasts are not bad for you. Good fats – such as Omega 3s found in oily fish such as salmon and mackerel – have a lot of benefits. Medical experts at Harvard University say:
“Omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent and even treat heart disease and stroke. In addition to reducing blood pressure, raising HDL, and lowering triglycerides, polyunsaturated fats may help prevent lethal heart rhythms from arising. Evidence also suggests they may help reduce the need for corticosteroid medications in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Studies linking omega-3s to a wide range of other health improvements, including reducing risk of dementia, are inconclusive, and some of them have major flaws, according to a systematic review of the evidence by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Omega-6 fatty acids have also been linked to protection against heart disease. Foods rich in linoleic acid and other omega-6 fatty acids include vegetable oils such as safflower, soybean, sunflower, walnut, and corn oils.”
What should athletes eat?
Athletes have different nutritional needs from the rest of us as their physical activity level is that much greater than a person who sits and works behind a desk all day.
As we said earlier, carbohydrates are the main source of energy in anyone’s diet. It’s been stated that carbohydrates should make up the majority of your diet, however, as athletes need more energy than most they will need to consume more carbohydrates than your average human being.
Protein’s main function is in building and repairing muscles. So, athletes such as bodybuilders and weightlifters will need to consume more protein as their sports require them to have a higher muscle mass than others.
Just as anyone else, athletes need to be careful of the fats that they consume. In other words, they need to stick to good fats rather than the bad fats as found in junk food. This is because the bad fats increase people’s risk of diseases such as heart disease.
A good amount of fruits and vegetables is essential in anyone’s diet – be they active or not-so-active. However, there are certain vitamins and minerals that athletes need to be certain that they are getting enough of on a daily basis. For example, athletes need to ensure that their iron levels are adequate as a drop in these can result in a deficiency in performance. Magnesium levels are also essential for athletes to watch as this mineral plays an essential part in the contraction of muscles.
A sports conditioning coach’s main job is to ensure that his/her athlete performs at the best of their ability. Part of this includes keeping a close eye on what they eat so that their eating does not negatively affect their performance and only enhances it.
Trifocus Fitness Academy’s Sports Conditioning Course will teach you the ins and outs of what it takes to become a world-class sports conditioning coach. Also check out the Athletic Nutrition course on offer at Trifocus Fitness Academy. Follow this link to leave your details and one of our friendly and knowledgeable sales consultants will be in contact with you to chat about our sports conditioning course.