by Aimee Wojtowecz
We all know that nutrition is essential for supporting overall health and wellness. Having a balanced and varied diet provides a person with enough energy and nutrients to meet the demands of everyday life and exercise. Sports or performance nutrition takes a deeper dive into nutritional strategies and habits that aid in athletic performance in addition to enhancing recovery.
Performance nutrition has three basic principles but how they look will vary from person to person. The three principles include Fueling, Hydration and Recovery. This is not reserved for elite athletes, anyone looking to boost their training and performance can benefit from a detailed, individualized nutrition plan.
When building your nutrition plan you may need to consider:
- Individual caloric needs
- Macronutrient amounts and ratios
- Meal and snack timing
- Vitamins and minerals for recovery and performance
Tailoring these considerations to your body weight and composition, the amount of time spent training, and the type of sport/training can improve performance.
Let’s look at one of my nutrition clients to see how this might work in real life. This client has been working with me for about 8 months now. Her original goal was to lose weight/body fat but as time went on we started to transition to some performance-based goals. We started slow, just trying to improve overall diet quality and get her eating a consistent number of calories. Then we started focusing on increasing protein intake to maintain and continue building muscle and strength. We increased hydration. We increased vegetable and fruit intake to maximize micronutrients that aid in metabolism and recovery. Through this period she has lost 30 lbs (YES 30 pounds!), dropped 10% body fat, added almost 100 pounds to her deadlift, shaved 3 minutes off her mile time, and so much more. But did you notice the theme here? At no point did I ever guide her to take things away, rather we focused on adding more nutrition to what she was already doing and tailored it to her goals in the gym.
This could be you!
If you’re serious about your fitness you need to plan your diet to optimize health and performance. Hydration and meal timing are also vital for performing well throughout the day. We want a pre-and post-workout snack for optimal fueling and recovery. Some athletes may choose to take dietary supplements. However, you should always be mindful of safety and efficacy issues and check with your physician before starting with any supplements (especially if you take any regular medications!)
Both amateur and professional athletes may benefit from consulting with a nutritionist or nutrition coach to help you plan the optimal diet for your individual needs and goals.
If you’re ready to get strong and take your performance to the next level, UPCF members can sign up for our 6-week strength club program and add performance nutrition coaching! Plan on working hard and having fun doing it!