Proper nutrition and supplementation is an absolute necessity for athletic performance and optimum health. Put it in the most simplistic way: you cannot expect a high performance machine, or an athlete either, to perform at peak level on cheap fuel. So, mechanical/technological marvels like the space shuttle and Formula 1 Racing cars use special high performance fuels and not cheap tractor diesel! What type of “fuel” therefore should go into an athlete’s body?
I cannot overstress enough the importance of good nutrition – a sound and balanced diet of protein, complex carbohydrates, essential fats supplemented in part by vitamins/minerals covers at least half of the equation towards a positive athletic peak performance contribution.
The way most of us live today sends two signals. It makes the need for healthy nutrition and optimum health more important on the one hand, while curiously, on the other, it is the single most important reason why many people have found it increasingly difficult to find the time or even make the effort to eat healthily. The time factor, the increased pace of life has led to the growth and aggressive marketing of the fast food industry – an industry notorious for its provision of foods that are short on muscle building and vitamin qualities. Convenience take-home food, even from leading supermarkets, are often loaded with saturated fats and other undesirables. Definitely not the way towards the realisation of a lean figure or physique. You should make a point of resisting and rejecting addiction to this form of nutrition.
Food You Need
Carbohydrates – the energy provider. Ideally 60% of your total calorie intake should include whole-wheat pasta, noodles, whole-wheat bread, white and sweet potatoes, rice, yams, cassava, breadfruit and green plantains. Avoid or at least severely limit products which are processed or tinned and are laden with added sugar and chemical additives: always read labels for these. Particularly avoid those with hydrogenated fats, bad for the arteries. Nearly all manufactured biscuits and cakes (real “no no”s) use them.Good simple carbohydrate can be got too from fruits like bananas, apples, oranges, pears, dates etc. The fruit sugar (fructose) they contain is swiftly convertible into energy.
Proteins – the muscle builders. A 30% ratio of your overall calorie intake should be protein. The best sources of protein include lean beef, skinless turkey, chicken and other forms of poultry, egg whites, low fat/salt dairy products, low fat milk and whey products.
Though the consensus of professional opinion seems agreed on the 30% figure it remains debatable and varies widely from individual to individual and sport to sport. Bodybuilders for instance consume way over the 1gm protein to 1kg of bodyweight recommendation for those engaged in team sports like Football and Rugby. Some athletes with super-fast metabolisms often need a higher carbohydrate to protein ratio. Experiment to find out what best works for you.
Fats – Yes Fats! Not the harmful saturated animal fats that raise Low Density Lipoprotein cholesterol and could trigger heart disease but EFA’s (Essential Fatty Acids), healthy fats which have a positive effect in raising High Density Lipoprotein (good cholesterol). These fats should make up the remaining 10% of your calorie intake. They provide insulation and assist in nerve functions and protection of vital internal organs as well as energy. Good sources of EFA’s include various fish oils, extra virgin olive oil and plant oils.
Pills and PowdersA whole multi-billion dollar industry has emerged to cater to and make money from modern lifestyle. They claim to make up deficiencies in the modern diet, or, sport-wise, to boost training or muscle-gains in the gym.
Please always remember:
Supplements should never be used as a replacement for a good basic diet of solid food. 80% minimum of your bulk consumption of calories should come from a balanced combination of nutrients.
Supplementation should only fill in the gaps left by deficiencies in your solid food intake i.e. the rare occasion where a meal is unavoidably missed etc.
Structure your supplementation requirements to what is relevant for your training needs and goals. That way you avoid purchase duplication and save money.
Get proper impartial advice from an experienced professional athlete or trainer.
By Dayo AudiWBBF Mr Universe, IFBB Pro