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By Sean Van Staden

Columnist


Skip gym before you abandon a nutritional lifestyle

Nutrition can improve the quality of your sports performance more than any gym workout or fitness session.


  When it comes to nutritional information, there is more misleading information out there than that which is useful. Humans are flawed by nature. We seek quick fixes and don’t want to understand the importance of good nutrition. It is easier to go to the chemist and buy a fat-burner that doesn’t work than to eat less food. It’s easier to place two scoops of 'mega mass three million' in your shaker than to get to a gym each day and work out. Stop! Put down your phone. Google won’t find 'mega mass three million' because it doesn’t exist. Nutrition…

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When it comes to nutritional information, there is more misleading information out there than that which is useful.

Humans are flawed by nature. We seek quick fixes and don’t want to understand the importance of good nutrition.

It is easier to go to the chemist and buy a fat-burner that doesn’t work than to eat less food. It’s easier to place two scoops of ‘mega mass three million’ in your shaker than to get to a gym each day and work out.

Stop! Put down your phone. Google won’t find ‘mega mass three million’ because it doesn’t exist.

Nutrition can improve the quality of your sports performance more than any gym workout or fitness session.

ALSO READ: Know the differences: Plant, animal and supplement proteins

If you miss a gym day, your body will forgive you. Eat three junk meals before a big match and your body will fight back, and possibly result in the worst performance of your career.

There are many reasons why athletes don’t follow a nutritional lifestyle.
Still, the main reason I believe is that they were never taught the actual value of what good nutrition does for the body on a micro and macro level.

Athletes are indoctrinated to measure performances by wins and losses or how many goals they have scored or saved, and they are not taught about self-introspection.

The ability to look inwards and evaluate how much energy you have, how apparent your mental clarity is, how accurate your execution is, and at what stage fatigue starts settling in, is crucial.

These are not common questions athletes ask themselves, yet it is closely, if not directly, linked to nutrition and performance.

Here are six essential vital nutrients for a balanced diet:

Protein – Essential building block in repairing and producing cells. Provides a source of energy, boosts metabolism and aids in maintaining and increasing muscle mass and strength.

Quality carbs – Essential in providing energy to cellular structures to perform tasks and give your body the energy it needs for the sporting demand. It also aids in storing energy so protein can be used for its primary purpose.

Fats – Good fats are essential for hormone production. They provide energy from storage for sustained endurance, help absorbs Vitamins A, D, E and K, and provide power for the body. They also serve to help protect organs and keep your body warm, especially if you play sport in colder climates.

Fibre – Often the missing nutrient in nutrition, it is essential for digestion and bowel movement, and regulates blood sugar levels.

Vitamins and Minerals – Essential in performing a multitude of roles in the body including healing wounds, vitamins and minerals improve your body’s immune system, help to convert food to energy, helps repair damaged tissue and helps build, maintain, and strengthen bone density.

Water – Essential for hydration. Every cell, organ and tissue uses water. It helps regulate temperature, acts as a lubricant and cushions joints, helps your brain function optimally, aids in digestion, helps with nutrient absorption, improves oxygen circulation throughout the body, helps boost energy, improves your mood and helps flush out waste and toxins.

ALSO READ: Sport and pain go hand in hand: Everything you need to know

The goal as an athlete is to start understanding the six essential nutrients in a balanced diet and how important they are for their daily performance needs.

You can now see that if you are missing the fundamental six key essentials, it will affect the functioning of the internal systems and external output and performance.

If you look a little deeper and reflect on yourself, this could be the answer you have been looking for as to why your performance is average, why you are prone to reccurring injuries and why you take longer than your teammates to recover.

It is not about quick diets and supplement fixes but rather about familiarising yourself with the basics.

Start the process of learning to understand by implementing the game plan, and then if you feel you are still missing something, then seek professional advice from a sports dietician.

Just remember, not all dieticians are the same, and finding a good sports dietician is difficult, but they are out there.

Just make sure they have a pedigree of working with elite athletes and various sporting codes; otherwise, rather then your hopes of building a body for the eighth man position at the Springboks, you might end up looking more like a cyclist.

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