Understanding Performance Nutrition
Our body is capable of performing incredible mental and physical functions, but unless we make the right lifestyle choices around the key pillars of health and performance (exercise, nutrition, sleep and mental health) it is not possible consistently achieve our performance potential. People may think performance nutrition is only specific to sport but this is not the case. Performance nutrition should be considered in all aspects of a person’s life and not only in a sporting context. For example in your career, for public speaking, musical performances, intense periods of study, or where your body is exposed to trauma or stress. If you want to perform, you must prime your body so it is ready to excel and perform under pressure. For an athlete, if you want to perform to your best in training and competition or if you want to recover quickly from an injury then your performance nutrition is critical. Regardless of your sport, hobby or career if you want to perform consistently at the highest level then personalised ‘performance nutrition’, must form part of your routine.
The Performance Nutrition Routine
The appreciation of where nutrition fits as part of an athlete’s priorities has drastically increased over recent years. We have moved a long way from beliefs like ‘it doesn’t matter what athletes eat or drink when training’ and stories of a full Irish breakfast on match day, to athletes now eating the precise amounts of foods and fluids at specific times for their individual goals. This can be called the performance fuelling routine or strategy. It is highly individual and based on the time you aim to perform. It is critical to understand that each meal must fit as part of that routine and no one meal is more important than the routine itself. They all work together to achieve the best possible performance outcome.
The primary aim of performance nutrition is achieving peak performance by focusing on the specific amount, the composition and the timing of food consumption in relation to an exercise session or competition. For athletes, there are two major priorities, 1. Recover and adapt from training or 2. Fuel to perform in competition. Like improving a specific skill in sport or work, nutrition is something that must be practiced by an individual. The application of nutrition constantly develops as a person’s knowledge increases and their capability to implement nutrition practices evolves. Add the critical layers of a person’s likes, dislikes, cooking skills, foods that cause digestive problems and you have a nutrition matrix that takes planning, organisation and careful consideration.
What does a performance nutritionist do? Firstly, they establish what a person or athlete wants to achieve and then they evaluate an individual’s nutrition habits to assess if their nutrition practice is aligned to their goal. The aim is to set realistic performance goals and customise a plan that enables a person build nutrition habits and a routine that helps a person achieve those goals.
There is another critical component that is often overlooked and doesn’t get the consideration that it should and that is accountability and support. A nutrition plan is only useful if it is consistently implemented and that’s where the support of a performance nutritionist is critical. Athletes in their nature are highly motivated but they are also human and benefit from being accountable to a professional who helps them achieve their personal targets. Some examples of highline performance goals are outlined below. As goals are achieved the focus changes. You must evaluate what is going well, what could be done better and what are the next goals that can be achieved. A person’s goals may change but the drive to improve and perform to new heights never ends.
Daniel is available for appointments to help you achieve your goals for 2019.