nutrition in sport

The importance of nutrition in sport is well established and its influence on health, body weight and body composition, substrate availability and ultimately sports performance has widespread acceptance.
A very realistic and excellent review by Gilbert is of importance in this subject.
However, nutritional knowledge, beliefs and practices in sport are extremely variable, with nutritional science often having little bearing on the practices of elite performers. Many aspiring athletes may be prepared to take a risk. Results from scientific studies that are non-significant, but show even a small trend towards benefit, may be viewed as worth trying if they are thought to translate to improved performance in the field. Other athletes, however, may be ill informed or simply lack the opportunity or funding to seek advice from competent sports nutritionists or dieticians. Many organisations delegate nutrition responsibilities to other professionals, often fitness coaches or physiotherapists who have only a basic knowledge of nutrition and may also lack the practitioner skills and expertise to effectively apply theory to practice. Furthermore, sports nutrition is currently a poorly regulated profession, allowing unethical practitioners and individuals without the necessary skills and qualifications to practice, which results in many athletes obtaining information from less-reliable sources, which may also include the media and supplement companies. In practice there are may athletes who are insufficiently advised as to diet.
The review looks at diet and requirements by professional footballers by a hands on nutritionist.
Footballer will have used their glycogen stores within 90 minutes. .A habitual high carbohydrate diet ( 5-7 g/kg is important and an increase on the 2 days before the game. High carbohydrate foods are important on match days. Reliable information for women is not available.
Recovering nutritionally between games in important in reducing fatigue. Carbohydrates are the basis of such diets. The amount varies with age, gender, maturity, fitness status, exercise intensity , duration, recovery period, climate, hydration, size of glycogen stores before and after the games, muscle damage and timing of next exercise.
Protein is not as great as many would believe and at the most in endurance athletes 1.6 g/kg body weight compared to 0.8-1.0 in average people. Female athletes 15 % les than their male equivalents.
Gilbert 2008 Practical aspects of nutrition in performance Proceedings Nutrition Society vol 68 pp 23-28.

Martin Eastwood
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