Sports Pitch

Sports Nutrition - Post Lockdown

Last updated: 6.14am, Thursday 25th March 2021 by

To mark what is usually the annual Nutrition and Hydration Week, Hampden Sports Clinic have pulled together a focus on nutrition to help raise awareness of what we can do to improve our overall health and wellbeing...

Nutrition and Hydration Week has taken place every March since 2012. In 2021, due to the global pandemic, Nutrition and Hydration Week will move to June in recognition of the pressures that health and social care systems are under at this time. It’s purpose is to bring people together to create energy, focus and fun in order to highlight and educate people on the value of food and drink in maintaining health and well being in health and social care.

Organisations from around the world and from all areas of health and social care take part and new organisations are welcome to join in the fun.

As Lockdown looks likely to be easing over the coming months - success in sport this year is about much more that just winning medals and trophies. With the upcoming Euro 2020 tournament and other significant sporting events in Glasgow, it is also about the reputation of our city, increasing long-term jobs, boosting tourism – in other words the legacy - post pandemic.

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With obesity problems in our children already here our legacy hopes should also include an aspiration to increase the physical activity in our young people. Sport and physical activity has been proven to have so many physical, emotional and social benefits it has been described by some as the ideal “pill” to ensure a long and healthy life. One of the many facets of the health benefits and one where our elite athletes can be important role models, is the drive to improve nutrition in both school and home.

A healthy eating programme is accepted in professional sport as part of the normal preparation for competition. Indeed sports nutrition input is seen as essential a part of a sports “backroom team” as physiotherapy or strength and conditioning. Regardless of how much training an athlete does or how good the coaching system is, unless they give their body the optimum balance of essential nutrients, they will never reach their full potential. High intensity sporting activity depletes the limited energy stored in the muscles, mainly in the form of glycogen. Poor nutritional preparation will lead to faster glycogen depletion with fatigue and, in turn, a reduction in performance. In order to maintain adequate energy stores, athletes require to take on board sufficient carbohydrates and to replenish these stores throughout the day.

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Traditionally pre-competition meals are timed for around three hours before the event. Good sources of carbohydrate include starchy foods such as rice, pasta, noodles, potatoes and bread. It is vital to increase the frequency of carbohydrate intake with “kit bag” or “on the road” snacks such as fruit (bananas are very popular), cereal bars, rolls and sandwiches, rice pudding, yoghurts and sweets such as jelly babies and gums are ideal! All of these are also useful during breaks in sporting activity. [Of course, please be mindful of the sugar content in the cereal bars and the sweets too].

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Some sportsmen and women still believe that eating after exercise should be avoided. Nothing could be further from the truth. Re-fuelling should start immediately after activity. This enhances the recovery and helps minimise fatigue. This should be a combination of carbohydrate refuelling and fluid replacement. Fruit, cereal bars, sandwiches etc should be taken in the changing room with a meal ideally within two hours. This refuelling and rehydration should continue throughout the rest of the day.

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Maintenance of adequate fluid intake is of equal importance for those involved in activity at all levels and this is often overlooked. Every 1kg of loss of weight during exercise is the equivalent of one litre of lost fluid. This is obviously exacerbated in warm conditions. It is important to get into a pattern of drinking a little but often to maintain hydration. There is much debate, and considerable commercial interest, as to what is the best fluid to drink. In my opinion the hardest part is to persuade those who exercise of the importance of fluids and if you can get them to drink water then the most important goal has been achieved. Water is cheap, effective and readily available and ideal for day-to-day fluid maintenance when not playing sport.

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If we accept that the human body is the world’s most complicated machine then it is no surprise that in order to perform to its optimum ability we need to treat it well. And for those who still need a pie at football, many have made vegan or some healthier options available!

Keep an eye on our blog for more content and resources upcoming ahead of Nutrition And Hydration Week 14th-20th June 2021...

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