You may notice after eating a processed meal that you feel sluggish or tired, but when we eat whole foods we feel energized. Ultimately, we use food as fuel and nutrition is an essential part of an athletes lifestyle because it provides the energy required to perform an activity. Ultimately, what foods you eat determine your strength, training, performance and recovery.
Nutrition is defined as being nourished by food substances for energy. Given this, sports nutrition focuses on the athlete’s nutrition and whether they are properly fueled for training. These are some of the areas where athletes focus on nutrition to fuel their bodies properly:
- How protein is utilized in the body and is affected by exercise
- The timing and composition of meals in relation to their best anabolic response in the athlete
- How essential are the essential amino acids
- The role and use of carbohydrates in sports
- Proper hydration in athletic activity and its influence on athletic performance
Given the importance of nutrition, it’s vital to fuel yourself with natural, whole ingredients in your diet for a healthy lifestyle and peak performance.
Nutrition and Athletic Performance
Nutrition is a key factor in your athletic performance. In fact, meals eaten before and after exercise are the most important for sports nutrition. Make sure you are aware of what you put into your body, as a general rule athletes should eat about two hours before exercising. This pre-workout meal should be high in carbohydrates, low in fat and moderate in protein.
Carbohydrates are the main source of energy that powers your exercise regime and protein is required to aid muscle growth and repair. After exercising, you need to replace the carbohydrates you have lost and you need to ensure proper muscle recovery by including protein in your post-training meal. We recommend the ATAQ plant-based protein. The ingredients have over six different sources of plant-based protein to match the amino acid of whey as closely as possible for muscle growth and recovery, but without the issues whey causes for those with lactose intolerance or sensitive stomachs.
Protein creates and maintains healthy cells, it repairs damaged tissue, helps oxygen move through the body, aids digestion, regulates hormones and provides you with energy. Without protein, your body would lack a crucial component for healthy muscles, bones, skin and blood and your health might seriously suffer. Yes, it’s that important to your daily well-being. Check out our guide about how to get protein and why you need it.
The proportions of protein and carbohydrates that you require will vary depending on both the intensity, type of sport and your body type.
Why Natural Ingredients
Nutrition does not only mean the proper balance of carbs, protein, fats, etc. It means those nutrients from the foods you eat need to give you what your body needs to replenish and sustain itself. Natural nutrition refers to foods that are unprocessed, unrefined and without added preservatives. Although everyone has a different diet that works best for them, fueling your body with whole, natural foods and ingredients are shown to properly fuel your body.
Given that each person is unique, and each must exercise his or her judgment as to what is right for his or her own well-being. The quality of the food eaten affects the way your body functions. It is easy to comprehend that artificially created food or food grown under suboptimal conditions cannot contribute the ingredients necessary to good health and athleticism.
Variety of Foods
It’s important to incorporate a variety of natural foods and ingredients for a balanced diet. There are no single foods you must eat or menus you need to follow to have the “perfect” diet, you need to listen to your body and make conscious decisions on what you eat. Make sure you get the right balance of different foods as well. Here are some aspects to consider when examining your nutrition.
Fruits and Vegetables
Load your plate with fruits and vegetables! Vegetables are important sources of many nutrients, including potassium, dietary fiber, folate (folic acid), vitamin A, and vitamin C. These nutrients fuel your body for the best training. Vitamin C increases resistance to disease, enhances immune function and promotes healthy recovery. Vitamin A prevents cell damage, maintains skin and tissue and fights off infections. Folic acid is vital for central nervous function and necessary for immune system function.
An option to make sure you are getting all your vital nutrients is to take dietary supplements as well. You can find this in the ATAQ Booster Shots that are perfect to incorporate natural nutrients into your diet.
Make sure you are consuming enough water to replenish your electrolytes after training or a long day. The benefits of this include improved muscle function and properly regulated blood pressure during exercise so your heart doesn’t work harder to maintain normal blood pressure. In addition, improved circulation and blood flow delivers oxygen and nutrients to working muscles. With good hydration, it removes metabolic by-products and waste from muscles, while replacing the water that is lost through sweat.
Staying adequately hydrated can help reduce muscle fatigue and reduce the risk of injury.
As athletes exercise, the core body temperature rises. In response, the body sweats to dissipate excess heat so it doesn't overheat. Electrolyte hydration mixes like the ATAQ Hydration powder mix make it easier to replenish what you’ve lost after exercise.
Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats
Having the balance of carbs, proteins and fats are essential in your diet in an active lifestyle. These nutrients are digested into simpler compounds. Carbohydrates are used for energy (glucose). Fats are used for energy after they are broken into fatty acids. Protein can also be used for energy, but the first job is to help with making hormones, muscle, and other proteins.
ATAQ Fuel: Created with Natural Ingredients
When it comes to sports and performance products, "natural" is often regarded with some serious skepticism. When Tammo Walter, co-founder of ATAQ, started working with a cycling coach and nutritionist in 2014, he had a similar epiphany. His coach had encouraged him to move away from synthetic supplements, and instead use fresh, natural foods to fuel his workouts, races, and recovery. Eating healthy is simple; eating healthy for sports performance is not. The latter requires an understanding of physiology, biochemical processes, and how to leverage nutrition to target performance goals. And with 12 hours a week in the saddle, there simply was not time to think about all of that. After numerous conversations with Nikki, now co-founder, that idea ultimately turned into ATAQ in December, 2015.
For more information about natural nutrition and performance products visit ATAQ Fuel.