Can a sports nutrition plan be made without supplements?


For any athlete, the beginning of training in any form of sport or activity would begin with a change in the overall lifestyle of the person with the most important and usually the first change being that of the food the person eats. As we all know, food is what gives the body with all the nutrients, minerals and other essentials it requires to carry out basic bodily functions and support the living of the person. According to the best nutritionist in Bangalore, when any person indulges in any kind of sport, it creates an unusual need for more energy and nutrients than what the body is usually taking in to support the additional activity. This excess requirement may be in the form of the need for a lot of extra energy, proteins to support muscle build up, or some other nutrients to enhance the performance for other bodily functions and organs that are vital for the chosen sport. Thus, sports nutrition in itself becomes a new node in the branch of food and nutrition to cater to a different set of demands of the human body due to a difference in occupation and physical activity.

Sports nutrition lays the foundation of athlete success. The plan is well designed to suit the needs of the athlete enabling them to train well and perform their best. Like diets vary from individual to individual based on their daily requirements and body needs, sports nutrition diets also vary and may even vary from day to day too, depending on specific energy demands. It aims to supply the body with the just the right amount of energy, nutrients, as well as fluids to keep the body well fed, hydrated and functioning at peak levels thereby supporting the body throughput the physical stress and building. 

Individual goals for athletes may vary from improving their body composition to enhancing their performance as an athlete to gaining lean mass or some other goal. These scenarios are specific and unique to different sports and thus require nutritional programs that are unique to fulfilling these goals. 

The athletes need to eat for endurance, strength as well as for improving performance. Endurance programs are defined as exercise periods that range from the duration of one to three hours requiring high energy intake in the form of carbohydrates. According to research, target carbs consumption for such periods of heavy exercise range from 6g to 10g per kilogram of body weight per day. Fat can be taken in as a secondary source of energy for these long hour durations of heavy physical activity and training. Athletes in such programs run a high risk of getting dehydrated due to inefficient replacement of the fluids lost in the workout hours. Replacing the fluids and electrolytes lost during these sessions due to sweat is necessary for peak performance. Depending upon the athlete and his extent of physical activity, the fluid loss might be replaced through supplements along with other foods. The need of supplements arise due to the large amount of body requirements that is difficult to be fulfilled by natural food items. 

Eating for building strength usually supports resistance programs that athletes indulge in to gradually build the strength of skeletal muscle. This kind of training is a typically high intensity workout requiring larger amounts of all macronutrients sufficient for muscle development. Protein is one such micronutrient whose requirement in the human body becomes very high as the athlete indulges in high intensity workouts and training sessions. Protein is vital in the process of increasing and maintaining lean body mass. Research indicates that protein requirements in athletes can vary from 1.2g to 3.1g per kilogram of body weight per day, impossible to supply to the human body without supplements. 

At crucial times of preparing for competitions and getting trained for a competitive sport, the nutritional requirements will again vary. For example, strength building athletes strive to increase lean mass and body size for excelling at their sport. Endurance runners focus on reducing their body weight/fat for peak body function during their event. In all these cases, nutritional requirements are unique and diverse and often exceed what can be provided through natural food courses, thus inviting the use of supplements. Pre and post-workout meal planning are unique for each athlete and essential for optimal dietary planning.

Another important aspect in sports nutrition is adequate hydration and electrolytes that are essential for health and athletic performance. As per the best nutritionist in Delhi, we all lose water throughout the day, but active adults and athletes lose additional body water as well (and a significant amount of sodium) because of sweating during intense workout sessions and long training hours.

This process of losing body water, and fluid deficits greater than 2 percent of body weight can lead to compromising of athletic performance and the athlete’s cognitive function. Athletes are thus recommended in their nutrition plans to use fluid replacement strategies as part of their sports nutrition to maintain optimal body functioning and avoid critical problems and damages to their body. Rehydration with water is not enough in most cases and special sports drinks containing sodium are often prescribed depending on the athlete and sporting event. 

The body has different requirements at different stages of the life cycle. A child athlete would have different requirements from that of an athlete. Depending upon the type of physical activity and training hours, the energy requirements for an athlete can easily shoot up to levels difficult to supplement through food. Maybe for child athletes, in some cases sports nutrition might not include supplements and natural food sources may prove to be sufficient, however, with the athlete’s growth, the body needs increases and supplements become necessary to provide the athlete’s body with its nutrient requirements.