People are, the saying goes, what they eat.
And athletes and people who work out need to know what — and when — to eat and drink for the best results.
Humber College recently conducted a sports nutrition workshop that focused on the diets of athletes and to help students with their food habits.
The workshop, conducted by the college’s Centre for Healthy Living, looked at the importance of pre-workout snacks and meals to sustain energy throughout a workout and how to refuel post-workout.
Also key to successful athletic success is how to hydrate correctly to avoid dehydration.
“There are three segments of sports nutrition,” said Julia Balenzano, a student of Nutrition and Healthy lifestyle course at Humber.
“There are macronutrients which consist of carbs, proteins and fats. Fuelling which comprises of pre-workout, during workout and post workout food and then hydration.
“Every athlete is a different individual with respect to the sport, age, gender and training and therefore they have different requirements,” Balenzano said.
Jessica Caserta, also studying Nutrition and Healthy lifestyle, said sports nutrition enables people to train effectively.
“It provides you the energy you need to perform, carbohydrates to working muscles, proteins for muscle building and repair and helps with hydration,” she said.
Caserta said carbohydrates are important during exercise as glucose, a major source of carbs, circulates in the blood stream giving the athlete vital energy.
“Whole grains, cereals, beans, fruits and vegetables are the major sources of carbs. They are the major muscle fuel source for exercise,” Caserta said.
Alicia Camacho, also a Nutrition and Healthy lifestyle student, said the intake of proteins should be more in an athlete than in an active person.
“Proteins are essential for growth and development and athletes frequently turn to supplements when it comes to proteins,” she said. “They help grow muscle, help to build antibodies and repair muscle tissues.”
Camacho said fats are major elements of our diet, as they help absorb nutrients from the food.
“There are two types of fats, essential and non-essential fats. Essential fats could be found in nuts, seeds and fish oils whereas non-essential fats could be found in processed foods,” she said.
Balenzano said it is advised to eat one to four hours before the workout and that it is important to have a source of carbohydrate during training or competition, such as a sports drink, chocolate milk or energy bars.
The ratio of carbohydrates to that of proteins (3:1) increases the endurance performance.
“The combination of carbs and proteins increases muscle glycogen, offsets muscle damage and facilitates greater training adaptations,” Balenzano said.
The body uses up all the stored carbohydrates and loses around two litres of water in the form of sweat.
Therefore, it is essential to have recovery snacks in the 30 minutes after a workout and a proper meal between one and two hours after exercising. Snacks should include fruit smoothie, vegetables with humus or milk.