The term ‘nutrition’ refers to how food affects the health of the body. Food is vital to our ongoing health and wellness. This is because it provides key nutrients for survival, assists the body with functioning well and remaining healthy.
Food is consists of macronutrients including protein, carbohydrate and fats. These macronutrients not only offer calories to fuel the body but, in addition, give it energy and play specific roles in maintenance of health. Food also provides micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and phytochemicals. These don’t provide calories but serve a variety of critical functions to ensure the body operates optimally.
Proper nutrition is a key element for good heath as well as physical fitness. For weight trainers, proper consumption of nutrients provides the most important benefit for making muscle gains.
Why weightlifters and athletes need to up their consumption of protein
Protein is important in terms of building muscle mass. However, eating more protein is not necessarily good for you as this action alone does not equate to a toned body. So when you’re calculating protein requirements for athletes, examine the athlete’s overall diet:
- Athletes who have nutrition plans which are adequate in carbohydrate and fats end up using less protein for energy as opposed to those who consume a diet which is higher in protein.
- This means that protein can go towards building and maintaining lean body mass because it’s not being used for energy purposes. Thus, athletes must ensure that they are meeting their bodies’ needs for carbohydrates, fats and protein.
Muscle growth occurs only when exercise and diet happen side by side. For example, research has demonstrated that scheduling of protein consumption plays a role in muscle growth. Consuming high-quality protein (such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy or soy) within two hours of exercise — either by itself or together with a carb — enhances muscle repair and growth.
The duration as well as intensity of the activity also play a role when it comes to protein needs. Because power athletes are building muscle, they need to eat a higher level of protein as opposed to endurance athletes.
As mentioned previously, while athletes’ and weightlifters’ protein requirements are greater than that of non-athletes, these are not as high as the man in the street commonly perceives. Nutrition and sports experts recommend that athletes and eat, on a daily basis, between 1.2 to 2.0 g of protein for each kg of body weight. This figure obviously depends on their training routine. The amount of protein that an athlete east should be spaced throughout the day and after workouts.
A balanced diet
A suitable assortment of foods from each one of the four food groups can give all of the basic nutrients which are required for the body to work at optimal levels. As we alluded to above, food satisfies three basic bodily needs:
- The need for energy,
- The requirement for new tissue growth as well as repair, and
- The need for energy to be regulated for metabolic functions.
Want to learn more about nutrition and how to assist your clients with maintaining good nutrition principles? If so, then check out our Specialised Nutrition Course for more information.