A netball player, powerlifter and triathlete – How would their nutrition differ?

Figuring out what to eat and when to eat it is tricky enough as it is. Throw in you trying to tailor your nutrition towards a particular event or competition it becomes even harder. In this article we will be going through the fundamentals or nutrition for sport as well as how these might alter between sports themselves.

The fundamentals

  1. Proteins – Keep protein goals to 1.8/2kg per kilogram of bodyweight, even if this seems aggressive to some, it will ensure an anabolic state essential for muscle building and strength gain, without any negative side effects. If this feels literally impossible to start, aim for 1.6kg of protein per kg of bodyweight as a MINIMUM and build up. Even endurance athletes will need a higher protein intake than the norm. If you are trying to build muscle mass or you are in a calorie deficit then you want to be on the upper limit of the protein requirement. Each serving/meal through the day aim to try and get around 25/30g of protein and as soon as you can after training (within 60 minutes I would try and aim for). Try and use leaner sources such as chicken, fish and extra lean mince when you can etc.
  1. Carbs – This will vary between exercises but a nice start point is about 50% of your calorie intake for the day. For example 2000kcal a day = 1000kcal of carbs. 1g carb = 4kcal. Therefore 1000/4 = 250g carbs daily. This is a nice place to start as this amount of carbohydrates are important for glycogen replenishment which is basically the energy stores that we call upon during exercise. The majority of these should come around training, in a 4-hour window, 2 hours before and 2 hours after. Below I have put a suggested starter point of how you might want to split these up:
  1. Pre workout (2 hours prior) – 25% of carbohydrate intake
  2. Intra-workout (during) – 12.5% of carbohydrate intake
  3. Post workout (within 60 minutes)- 25% of carbohydrate intake
  4. Post-Post workout (within 2-3 hours) – 22.5% of carbohydrate intake
  5. Rest of the day – 15% of carbohydrate intake
  1. Fats – These are usually what’s left over on when you’ve chosen your protein and carbohydrate intakes. Try and aim for foods that are higher in unsaturated fats and those with a high omega 3 to 6 ratio (salmon, avocado, olives) – These foods possess anti-inflammatory properties that can help with joint health

gda guidelines

Food Composition – These are the types of food you eat, e.g. lean meats, unsaturated fats, wholegrain carbohydrates etc. I could go down the traditional nutritionist route at this point and say we should try and cut out saturated fats, salt, sugar, cakes, biscuits, hopes & dreams etc. but I’m not. Everything in moderation, and everyone’s moderation is different. It’s important you find yours for adherence, performance and body composition.

Variations between activities

Strength sports (powerlifting, weightlifting, strongman etc.) – A higher protein intake compared to endurance sports. As these sports tend to be a much shorter duration and much more explosive there is less emphasis on a stupidly high carb intake. Not saying it is not important but your margin for error is much larger when it comes to your carbs and fats ratio. Useful micronutrients may include sodium, magnesium, calcium and potassium which all play an important role in muscle contractions.

Endurance sports (long distance running, road cycling, triathlons etc.) – Carbs are your everything. If you are a serious long distance athlete you might want to be trying for up to 10g per kilo of bodyweight. For someone weighing 75kg this is around the 750g mark. That’s hard to eat when running 2 hours a day trust me. If this is you then plan your carbohydrate intake smartly. Invest in some carbohydrate gels for intra-workout and make sure you are having good quality mixed meals (a ratio of fats carbs and proteins) every meal and not just salads. If you at the beginner end of your endurance journey or are doing shorter runs at the moment, in your training cycle, then closer to 6g per kilo of bodyweight might be more appropriate. Because the duration is slow and steady most of the time, it is important to replenish any lost electrolytes from the workout. Investing in an electrolyte powder or ensuring you are eating foods high in iron, sodium and magnesium will help keep fatigue at bay.

Team sports (football, rugby, netball etc.) – This may vary from sport to sport depending on its duration. If your sport/training is longer than an hour in duration, of continuous exercise you might want to use an isotonic drink from 30 minutes into the game to ensure that you don’t deplete in your glycogen store. In a continuous sport make sure that when you drink you sip and don’t gulp to avoid discomfort and bloating.

There are many different approaches to nutrition, depending on your age, gender, weight, size, activity level and lots lots more. If you would like to learn more about your own personalised nutrition get in touch with one of the team at 180 strength to learn more.

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