Sports Nutrition

Sports Nutrition

By Daniel Rocha LMT CPT CNS 


Sports nutrition is a field that focuses on the science behind and application of proper nutrition during exercise, including the body's use of nutrients during athletic competition, the need for nutritional supplements, and the role of good nutrition and dietary supplements in enhancing performance. The psychological dimension of sports nutrition is related to eating disorders and other psychiatric conditions related to food among athletes.


Sports nutrition professionals include Naprapaths, dietitians, biochemists, exercise physiologists, cell and molecular biologists, psychotherapists, and registered dietitians (RDs) who have completed a master's or another advanced degree in the field of exercise physiology. Academic sports nutritionists hold degrees in exercise physiology and specialize in working with athletes in one particular sport, such as baseball or swimming. Sports nutrition can be applied to almost any form of athletic training or physical activity, including yoga, tai chi, martial arts, and professional dance; professional sports nutritionists work primarily with team sports, endurance sports (such as cycling, long-distance running, and triathlon training), or sports involving weight training (e.g., wrestling, weight-lifting, and some forms of bodybuilding). Some athletes work one-on-one with a sports nutritionist.



Athletes utilize good nutrition to promote solid athletic performance. A balanced diet and proper hydration fulfill the body's energy requirements, resulting in optimal performance, whether for endurance, power, or strength. The need for adequate nutrition is necessary before events and for the events themselves. 


Sports nutrition is used to:

  • prepare athletes for intense training or actual competition
  • maintain an acceptable level of performance during competition or training
  • help the athlete's body recover after exercise or athletic competition
  • provide sound information about healthy dietary practices and the use of supplements
  • monitor athletes for signs of eating disorders, doping, supplement abuse, or other unhealthy behaviors
  • provide specialized nutritional advice to athletes following vegetarian, vegan, or other special diets
  • monitor the dietary needs of people with disabilities who participate in athletic activities and programs” (Frey 2019) 



Energy needs

Athletes require a higher level of caloric intake. Still, the amount varies depending on an athlete's age, gender, height, weight, body composition, stage of growth, level of fitness, and type of exercise, considering the activity's intensity, frequency, and duration. An appropriate diet for athletes consists of 2,000 calories per day: 55%–65% from carbohydrates, 15%–20% from protein, and 20%–30% from fats.


Timing of meals

The consumption of foods and fluids before exercising assures peak performance. Meals provide glucose to sustain energy during physical activity. Fluid levels are increased before engaging in training to ensure adequate hydration. Athletes are advised to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day and consume enough fluids before, during, and after vigorous activities. Pre-workout meals or snacks should be high-carbohydrate as carbohydrates are quickly converted to glucose, providing the best energy source. For strength workouts, a small amount of protein is included. Large meals are recommended three to four hours before exercise; with smaller meals, such as snacks, one to two hours is necessary.


Post-workout meals and snacks replenish the body's glycogen stores. A good post-workout snack includes high-glycemic, easily digested carbohydrates paired with protein. High-glycemic carbohydrates are converted to glucose quickly. The spike in glucose rejuvenates the body's supply,  promoting recovery. Most carbohydrates consumed in an athlete's diet should be from whole grain, with post work out replenishment coming from a high-glycemic snack. Endurance athletes need to eat during their workouts to maintain their energy, so shakes are most beneficial. 


I highly recommend a shake of frozen fruit, greens mix with spirulina and HumaPro post training. 


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Frey, R. J., Ph.D. (2019). Sports Nutrition. In D. S. Hiam (Ed.), The Gale Encyclopedia of Diets (3rd ed., Vol. 2, pp. 1189-1196). Gale.

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