Nearly everyone participates in some sport, from bowling to long-distance cycling; from skateboarding to powerlifting. Every sport has one thing in common: physical activity. Beyond that, different sports can exact very different requirements on the human body. Serious athletes who put their bodies through very high levels of physical stress by pushing the limits of strength and endurance are constantly looking for ways to reduce damage, increase power and energy, and maximize recovery.
Common wisdom says athletes should eat a high complex carbohydrate, high-protein diet. Many serious athletes use protein supplements, vitamin supplements and engage in carb stuffing before big competitions, especially if their sport involves endurance. However, as nutritionists continue to learn more about the science of eating, additional nutrition options have become available for athletes.
Here are two options to consider:
- Focus on Nutrient-Rich, Whole Foods
Brendan Brazier, ultra-marathon champion and professional vegan athlete, writes in his book Thrive: “The most effective way to permanently break the cycle [of eating foods not good for you] is to reduce uncomplimentary stress by eating a nutrient-rich, whole food diet; one which contains sources of easily digestible protein, fiber, whole grains and vegetables as a low glycemic form of carbohydrate, essential fatty acids from nuts and seeds, along with vitamins and minerals.”
By “uncomplimentary stress”, Brazier means nutritional stress that doesn’t produce a benefit. Switching to a nutrient rich, whole foods diet will produce “complementary stress” that can produce some discomfort at first, but once your body detoxifies, you will become an energy-producing machine.
You can learn more about Brazier’s principles here.
- Switch from Sports Drinks and Gels to Natural Alternatives
Sports nutritionist Leslie Bonci, writing in Runner’s World online, talks about the quantities of sports nutrition drinks and gels that sometimes cause gastrointestinal stress during competition. If you pay attention to how much you are consuming and in what concentrations, you could reduce stomach issues when competing or during heavy training.
On the other hand, it doesn’t hurt to try more natural alternatives your body might respond to better. She says studies on raisins show they compare well to commercial carbohydrate products. You can also try honey packets or sugar cubes, but remember you are also losing electrolytes, so either supplement the natural energy snack with a small amount of sports drink, or make your own. She suggests drinking water with salt, or drinking water and consuming small packets of sea salt.
For more advice from Bonci you can visit Runner’s World.
At BioVi, we are constantly learning new ways probiotics can boost nutrition, and one of the most satisfying parts of our job is keeping up with new developments in nutrition. The field of probiotics is exciting because it pushes the boundaries of nutrition as scientists continue to learn more.
As an athlete, it’s worth doing a little research periodically to keep up with probiotic studies and many other studies that advance our knowledge and fine tune best practices to help athletes continue enhancing their performance. Add some computer research time to your training routine!
We offer subscriptions to your favorite probiotics that have a whole host of benefits that other companies can’t or won’t provide in their probiotic strain. You can learn more about our probiotics on our website here.