NUTRITION

NUTRITION

Welcome to our nutrition page. Please take the time to read through this page as it contains important and useful information.


Protein diets, Carb loading, vitamin & mineral supplementation, there is a plethora of diets and healthy eating schemes to get through but only one simple formula – FOOD = FUEL. Is it really that simple? Well that all depends upon what food you eat, for want of an analogy take a look at the formula 1 race car. Just filling up with basic 4 star will no doubt keep the car running but this is a highly tuned machine, it needs high performance oils, lubricants and fuel to name but a few. Likewise, in order to perform at optimum level, a fighter needs to have sustained energy levels, should be fully hydrated and, as a post fight prerequisite, should have a high recovery rate. Eating burgers and munching on crisps and chocolate, although convenient and comforting, will not get you these results.


So, in order to be successful, a little bit of discipline is required. This doesn’t mean you have to give up your curry night or miss out on a tub of ice cream when at the cinema, or worse, no more beer!


If you can do this then you will be undoubtedly healthier than those that don’t, but we live in the real world where lifestyle pretty much dictates when, where and what we eat. There are ways to beat this and this simple word is your answer – PLAN.


Taking the time to plan out your eating regime, when to eat, what to eat will drastically change how you feel. Before I explain how you do this however, you need to have a base understanding of nutrition.


It doesn’t have to be “rocket science” and it can be fun learning about all the food types we require and trying them out!


FOOD PYRAMID


So how can you tell if your diet is stacking up? Nutritionists have developed a food guide system in the shape of a pyramid that can help you rate or evaluate your diet. This guide divides food into five groups on the basis of the nutrients each group provides. By eating the recommended amounts of food from each group daily, you can greatly increase your ability to acquire all the nutrients your body needs – thus improving your ability when competing.


We have all been told that we are what we eat, but how does nutrition affect athletic performance? Can the food we eat alter our endurance, strength, speed or even our mental performance? Do our carbohydrate, protein, fluid, vitamin, and mineral requirements differ according to our sport? When is the best time to eat and drink? Read on if you want to boost your athletic achievements through nutrition.


There are probably 3 basic dietary prescriptions for health and fitness. These apply to athlete and non-athlete alike. They are:


  • Maintain a healthy body weight by adjusting food intake and exercise

  • Eat less fat and specifically less saturated fats, such as those fats found in animal products and tropical oils

  • Increase total carbohydrate, especially complex carbohydrate

In addition, I recommend eating less cholesterol, reducing intake of refined sugar, eating more fibre, fruits and vegetables and drinking alcohol in moderation. However, over and above these general recommendations, athletes have certain critical areas of nutrition. Given the extra caloric expenditure during exercise, requirements for most nutrients may be increased.



Carbohydrates


Carbohydrates are simple sugars or long chains of sugars which are linked together [starches]. Paradoxically, carbohydrates are the preferred fuel during exercise of high intensity but they are stored in extremely limited amounts in the body. This storage form of carbohydrate, called glycogen, is found primarily in muscles and liver. The glycogen in the muscle is used directly by the muscle which is being exercised. In other words, once its limited stores of glycogen are gone it cannot "borrow" from other resting muscles.


Depletion of glycogen by the working muscles leads to severely impaired exercise performance, which at its extreme is known as "hitting the wall". This makes obvious the need to


  • Increase glycogen stores prior to exercise, and

  • Supply carbohydrate during prolonged exercise.

How much carbohydrate is enough? We often express recommendations in terms of percentages of total calories. Even recreational athletes probably need to obtain 55-60% of their daily calories from carbohydrates. Most people can do this if they consume 3 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight.


However, seriously training athletes probably require 4 grams of carbohydrate per pound body weight, or 60% of their calories from carbohydrate. For example, a 150 pound person who is cycling, say, 300 miles per week would require approximately 600 grams of carbohydrate daily. This carbohydrate would provide 2400 calories. Good examples of high carbohydrate foods are breads, cereals, grains, pasta, vegetables and fruits.


Each time you exercise muscle glycogen becomes depleted to some extent. By providing high carbohydrate intake every day, it is more likely that you will restore the carbohydrate which has been used, thereby allowing for another hard bout of training the following day.


Although we typically think of endurance athletes as having high carbohydrate needs during exercise, other sports such as soccer have been shown to significantly drain stored glycogen. For example, studies have shown that muscle glycogen was depleted to less than a quarter of its pre-exercise levels after one soccer game. Most of this loss occurred during the first half of the game [Karisson]. Furthermore, supplying carbohydrate during events such as soccer games may help to spare muscle glycogen and increase performance, particularly during the second half.



Timing of Carbohydrate


This raises the question of timing of carbohydrate intake. If the carbohydrate is to be taken during exercise it should probably be in beverage form. Beverages may be more quickly absorbed than solids and present less potential for stomach upset. A sports-type drink that has a concentration of 6-8% carbohydrate is likely to be easily absorbed during exercise. Most people can tolerate 1/2 cup to 1 cup of liquid every 20 minutes. This tolerance depends upon the individual and the type of exercise performed. Jostling sports like running are associated with more complaints of gastric distress after drinking than are sports such as cycling.


To avoid hypoglycaemia or low blood sugar during exercise, carbohydrate should probably not be consumed within 1 hour of the start of exercise. The best pre game strategy is to eat a light meal which contains 100 or so grams of carbohydrate 3-4 hours prior to exercise. Such a meal might look something like this:



Food
Carbohydrate Grams
Calories
Skim Milk, 1 cup 12 80
1 Bagel, 4 ounces 60 320
'Light' Cream cheese, 3/4 ounce 1 45
Orange Juice, 1/2 cup 15 60
Water, 16 ounces 0 0
TOTAL 88 505

In addition, one of the best times to provide carbohydrate to the body is immediately after a workout. Immediately after exercise the muscle is most avid to restore the glycogen it has used during exercise. Perhaps the best way to restore glycogen is to keep a drink which contains carbohydrate in your gym bag, and drink it prior to leaving the locker room or before you hit the shower at home. Alternatively, you can eat a high carbohydrate food, such as bread, bagels, pretzels, or fruit. The goal is to consume at least 50 grams shortly after exercise.


Carbo Loading


Athletes will sometimes eat pasta dinners the night before competition and believe that they have "carbo loaded". As you will see in a moment carbo loading is far more difficult to achieve than simply eating one meal high in carbohydrates.


Occasionally it may be prudent to supersaturate the muscle cells with glycogen. This is done by "carbohydrate loading" and is of value if you plan to compete in an event which will last for at least 90 minutes and which will lead to exhaustion or near exhaustion. Carbo loading actually entails a weeks worth of preparation: beginning a week prior to the event exercise is cut by 50% every second day, thus sparing the depletion of glycogen. This will also allow for complete rest the day or two prior to competing. With four days to go the diet is increased to approximately 70% carbohydrate. For most people this would mean eating about 4 grams of carbohydrate per pound body weight.


According to this formula, a 150 pound person would therefore be required to eat 600 grams of carbohydrate per day during the loading period. This is a lot of carbohydrate!


In addition to eating the right foods supplementation is also a factor, but before I delve into this controversial subject let’s look at the single most important factor in any athletes nutritional plan.



Water


Water is a basic necessity for all life. Without it, life can't exist. Even when water is limited, living organisms suffer. You are no exception. For young athletes like yourself, not enough water means you can't do your best. It can even cause serious health problems.


Our blood circulates like an ocean within us. The water in blood helps carry nutrients and energy to our body cells. It also carries waste products away from our cells for excretion from our body. Water helps regulate our body temperature, too--an important factor for all of us.


As an athlete, you have a special need for water. When you participate in a sport like Muay Thai, you burn a lot of food energy (called calories). Some of that unleashed energy powers muscles. But some of that energy is released as heat. Water keeps you from overheating. Sweating and evaporation from the skin cools you down. However, water is lost in the cooling process. That can be dangerous if the water is not replenished. If you run low on water, your body can overheat, like a car that is low on cooling fluid. Losing just two percent of the body's water can hurt performance. A five percent loss can cause heat exhaustion. A seven percent to ten percent loss can result in heat stroke and death. Dehydration can kill.


Some athletes like yourself have a lot of growing to do. New muscle tissue must be made. Bones need to grow rapidly. And with all of the physical activity, some tissues need to be repaired. All of this metabolic activity requires an abundance of nutrients and energy carried to body tissues and waste products carried away. Water allows all of this to happen. Water is vital for your body's growth, repair, and physical activity.


Thirst is your body's signal that you need to drink water. By the time you feel thirsty, you may have already lost one percent to two percent of your water--and that's enough to hurt performance. But just drinking enough to satisfy your thirst may not supply your body's needs. If you drink only enough to satisfy your thirst, your body may take up to 24 hours to fully rehydrate its cells and regain maximum performance.


When you participate in a sporting event or practice session, follow these guidelines:


      Don't wait until you are thirsty before drinking water.
      Drink more than enough to satisfy your thirst
      Drink more than you think you need before an event, or training session, to make sure you are fully rehydrated.

There is an old misconception that is dying hard. It is similar to the hard-line "no pain: no gain" training philosophy that we now know is also false.


Many coaches and athletes once believed that restricting water during a competition or practice session toughened an athlete--that somehow athletes needed less water. Unfortunately, some people still follow this practice that lowers performance and is downright dangerous. Without enough water to cool itself, the body can overheat to dangerous levels.


Conditioned athletes need more water--not less. The conditioned athlete is able to store and burn more energy in a shorter time. That means your body releases more heat, requires more cooling, loses more water, and needs more water to replenish its stores. Also, you may have increased your sweating response, which means you lose even more water. As an in-shape athlete, you need more water than other people.


When you feel exhausted and hot during a workout or game, drinking large amounts of water very rapidly may cause discomfort or stomach cramps. But that is not a good reason to restrict water. Drinking moderate amounts at frequent intervals is the best strategy during competition or practice. About one cup (six to eight ounces) of cool water every 15 to 20 minutes during an activity is about right for most athletes. Some athletes can drink a bit more than this at each interval. Cool water (40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit) is best. Cool water helps absorb body heat. And it empties from the stomach into the intestine at a fast rate, which allows it to be absorbed rapidly into the body.


Most of the weight you lose during an event or training session is water lost through sweat. Of course, you lose some weight when your body burns materials for energy. For example, the glycogen stored in liver and muscle cells is used for energy, which results in some weight loss. Some fat and protein is burned for energy, too, and that results in additional weight loss. However, most of the weight you lose during strenuous physical activity is water lost through perspiration.


Some coaches and trainers weigh athletes before a contest or workout and then again after the activity is over. Before the athletes leave the facility, they are encouraged to drink water


until they are within one pound of their pre-session weight. Two eight-ounce cups of water are consumed for each pound lost. This practice--weighing in, weighing out, and drinking the difference--is an excellent way of guarding against dehydration. You can do this on your own even if your coach doesn't require it.


At one time, boxers purposely dehydrated to lose weight rapidly and make weight categories. Fortunately, this practice is decreasing, but it still occurs.


Boxers dehydrated in many ways; some exercised in hot rooms, often while wearing rubber suits in an attempt to sweat off water. Others simply did not drink any fluids or eat foods high in water. Some lost water by spitting in a cup all day, while others took diuretics (water pills) to increase urine output.


Unfortunately, a few boxers used a combination of these methods to reduce body water, lose weight, and make weight categories. None of these practices is recommended. Using them in combination is especially dangerous.


Dehydration poses both short- and long-term dangers to your health. In the short-term, your body's cooling system can't work properly and you can overheat, suffer heatstroke, and possibly die. Long-term, repeated episodes of dehydration can be damaging to your kidneys.


The most common outcomes of dehydration are poor endurance and poor performance. Some athletes mistakenly believe that after purposely dehydrating their bodies, they can rapidly rehydrate and almost immediately regain optimum performance. While drinking plenty of fluids is the right thing to do after becoming dehydrated, it may take many hours before your body completely rehydrates and you can perform your best.


Some drinks that have caffeine, such as colas and iced tea, are advertised as thirst quenchers. Do not use caffeine-containing beverages as fluid rehydration drinks shortly before, during, and after a practice or competition. Caffeine acts as a diuretic. It increases urine output and can promote dehydration.


Your biggest concern is getting enough water--pure, cool water. Even the salt you lose while sweating can be easily replaced by adding salt to foods.


Plain, cool water is the fluid of choice when the actual exercise does not last longer than 60 to 90 minutes. And that includes most situations, even a tough practice session, a hard-fought fight or a track meet. You don't need an energy source in the fluid you drink to rehydrate. During these normal situations, if you have been eating and training properly, you should have enough energy stored as liver and muscle glycogen to power you through.


However, in some situations where the exercise is unusually long or several games occur in a short period of time, sport drinks containing carbohydrates and electrolytes may offer you an advantage. During these situations, you may run low on energy and electrolytes. For example, if you are a long-distance cyclist, you should consider using a sport drink. If you must compete in a tournament that has more than one game a day or several games in just a few days, you could benefit from a sport drink that supplements your energy and electrolyte supply.


There are many different commercial sport drinks available. They contain varying kinds and amounts of carbohydrates and electrolytes. For example, GATORADE(R) Thirst Quencher is a glucose electrolyte solution of about six percent carbohydrate concentration. Exceed(R) is a glucose polymer solution of about seven percent carbohydrate concentration. If you use a sport drink, pick one that has less than eight percent total solids (carbohydrates, electrolytes). More concentrated solutions can delay fluid absorption. They must be diluted with plain water before you use them as a fluid replacement drink. Also, avoid sport drinks that contain fructose as the only source of carbohydrate. Fructose may delay gastric emptying of fluid and cause upset stomach. And fructose must first be converted to glucose before it can be used for energy. This conversion means you can't use fructose as an energy source as quickly as other carbohydrates.


Fruit juices like orange juice should also be diluted if you're using them as a fluid replacement drink before, during, or after an event or practice session. Fruit juices vary from 10% to 17% carbohydrate concentration. Dilute them with an equal amount of pure water before you use them as fluid replacement. Of course, when you drink juices at other times, such as with a meal or snack, you don't have to dilute them.


Take every opportunity to drink water and other appropriate fluids. Drink fluids every day, even when you are not thirsty. That means drinking at mealtime--and snack time, too! As a competition or practice approaches, follow these guidelines:


  • Drink plenty of appropriate fluids the 24 hours before an event. Give your body every opportunity to become fully rehydrated.
  • If you eat a pre-game meal three or more hours before an event, make sure that ample fluids are included--at least two cups (16 ounces).
  • About 15 to 30 minutes before the start of competition or practice, drink a cup or more of fluids. This will help ensure that your tissues are fully rehydrated at the start.
  • During the activity, drink six to eight ounces of fluids every 15 to 20 minutes. Drinking moderate amounts frequently is the best way to keep fluid levels up. If you drink too much too quickly, you may develop stomach cramps and other discomfort.
  • Drink plenty of fluids after the activity. If you weigh in before and after activities, drink two cups (16 ounces) for every pound lost until you are within a pound of your pre-activity weight.
  • Remember to drink fluids before you get thirsty. If you wait until you're thirsty, your body may have already lost enough water to hurt your performance.

Getting it all down means you can perform at your best levels. Your endurance will be long lasting and you won't become as tired. You will have that extra edge when you need it most--whether it's the last few minutes of the contest or the last 10 meters before the finish line.


Remember to up with good fopower od every day so you can take full advantage of a well-hydrated body.


Fluids are probably the most neglected aspect of the athlete's diet. It is not uncommon for recreational athletes to report that they consume on an average day an intake something like this: several cups of coffee, 2 colas and a few beers. That kind of fluid intake is not sufficient for several reasons, and physical performance will suffer as a result.


Heat is inevitably produced in the body during exercise. Our most effective way of removing heat is through sweating. For each 1 gram of sweat EVAPORATED from the skin, approximately 0.6 kcal of heat are removed. Fluid losses during exercise due to sweating can exceed 2 quarts or 4 pounds per hour. This is especially true in humid environments or in sports where padding is used since the sweat is not evaporated effectively. As dehydration progresses, performance becomes impaired. A loss of 2-3% in body weight due to sweating can reduce aerobic ability by more than 10%, while losses of 5% or more in body weight can result in heat stroke. Clearly, even relatively mild dehydration will significantly hamper competitive possibilities.



Type and Timing of Fluid Ingestion


How much liquid should be ingested? When?


The amount of fluid required is dependent upon how much sweat will be lost during exercise. Exercise in hot, humid environments will require more liquid intake to maintain performance. Two hours prior to exercise drink 2 cups of water, juice diluted by half with water, or a sports drink. To speed absorption the beverage should probably not contain more than 6-8% carbohydrate. Half an hour prior to exercise drink 1 cup of sports drink, or water. At this point fruit juice should probably be avoided since it contains fructose, a sugar known to increase complaints of stomach upset. During exercise most people can tolerate 1/2 to 3/4 cup of beverage each 20 minutes. Again, avoid fructose, and choose either water or a quickly absorbed sports drink, or a dilute carbohydrate-containing beverage.


To enhance rehydration, weigh yourself prior to and after your workout. By doing so you can determine how much fluid you have lost as sweat. For each pound you have lost during exercise, drink 2 cups of non caffeinated, non alcoholic liquid within a few hours of exercise to restore hydration. A 3 pound weight loss during the exercise session, for example, would necessitate drinking 6 cups of fluid.


As discussed above, the period immediately post exercise is not only a good time to restore fluid losses, but is also an optimal time to restore carbohydrate. For that reason, a beverage which contains carbohydrate should be considered during the rehydration period. Alternatively, the athlete may want to eat a solid food containing carbohydrates while drinking plain water.



Types of Beverages


Recreational athletes are probably best served by drinking plain water. For example, someone who is walking a few miles each morning may not be at any significant risk of either dehydration or of carbohydrate depletion. However, for those who train at high intensities, or for prolonged periods of time, water may not be the best choice. The more serious athlete should be aware that the concentration of the beverage may significantly impact upon its rate of absorption and upon the likelihood of abdominal cramping, bloating or diarrhoea when drunk during exercise.


The optimal carbohydrate beverage composition during exercise is probably one which provides a small amount of salt [sodium] and sugar [glucose, a glucose polymer or sucrose]. Beverages containing less than 6% carbohydrate are unlikely to extend performance, while those that contain greater than 8% are associated with intestinal upset. So look for a beverage which provides about 15-20 grams of carbohydrate, or 60-80 calories, per 8 ounces.


SUPPLEMENTS


One point that must be noted is that supplements are just that, supplements to your nutrition. The use of sports supplements does not make up for a bad diet.


They are not magical or quick fix answers to better results and should not be considered as such, but used correctly can enhance your training, diet and general progress.
PROTEIN POWDERS


One of the most popular supplements on the market. Protein is required to build muscle, without a good, steady supply of protein your muscles will not grow. Excellent food sources of protein include fish, poultry, milk and eggs. Protein Powders, usually mixed with milk or water, offer a nutritional shake / drink that are high in protein and relatively low in fat and carbohydrate. Protein shakes are often used for convenience more than anything, though when consuming large amounts of protein daily, some people find it easier and less filling to drink it rather than eat it. Various types of protein powder are available including Egg Protein, Soy Protein, Milk Protein and Whey Protein. Whey protein is acknowledged as one of the best sources of quality protein due to its high biological value (The measure of efficiency). Protein shakes are usually available in a variety of flavours and the only way to find a flavour / brand that suits you it to try them.


Over the last couple of years, Protein Bars have become popular. These are snack bars (often coated lightly in chocolate) which are high in protein. Most protein bars also have quite a high sugar / carbohydrate content but a variety of low carb bars have slowly begun to appear on the market.


AMINO ACID TABLETS


Amino acids are the building blocks which make up protein. It was suggested that taking amino acids directly would be more efficient than digesting protein. Amino acid tablets are less popular today than when they first appeared, but are still widely available.


CARBOHYDRATE SUPPLEMENTS


Our body uses carbohydrates as a primary energy source. There are many carbohydrate supplements available on the market such as Maltodextrin and are usually taken with milk or water.


WEIGHT GAINERS


Weight gainers are high calorie shakes / drinks used to aid or supplement your calorific intake to ensure it is sufficient for growth. Early weight gainers were loaded with sugar but as technology has improved, so has the quality of the supplements, the majority of today’s weight gainers use complex carbohydrates. Many people like to manufacture their own weight gainers by mixing a protein powder and a complex carbohydrate supplement, such as Maltodextrin, together in a single shake.


MEAL REPLACEMENT POWDERS (MRP's)


Very similar to weight gaining powders, but have greater nutritional value via additional vitamins and minerals. A number of companies have started supplying MRP's in sachets or small packets. Whilst these offer convenience over larger tubs, they are often more expensive. Your choice would depend on your priorities.


RIBOSE


One of the newest supplements on the market. Ribose is a carbohydrate used in our body's energy production. The body only has a limited supply of ribose at any single time and there is no known food that increases the body's ribose levels. Supplementation with Ribose helps rebuild the body's energy levels much quicker after an intense workout. It is used to convert nutrients in ATP and research has shown that ribose increases ATP production in both fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscles.

Still relatively new, Ribose has yet to prove itself as a valuable supplement, long term.


CREATINE


Creatine Monohydrate is one of the most talked about sports supplements of the last few years, especially in the media. Creatine is not a drug, but rather a substance that naturally occurs in muscle tissue. Creatine is a combination of 3 amino acids; arginine, glycine and methionine. It can also be found in high quantities in some foods (Tuna, Herring and Beef), though not high enough to be beneficial to be considered a method of supplementation. Creatine monohydrate, the supplement form of Creatine, is a white, flavourless and odourless powder.


Creatine helps provide the energy our muscles need to move, particularly quick and explosive movements. Muscle contractions within the body are initially fuelled by ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate). Our bodies have only a limited supply of ATP and can provide energy for only a short time before failure. Supplementation with Creatine increases the rate at which the body can supply ATP and hence allows an extra burst of energy. In basic terms, creatine supplementation will allow you to lift more weight, or push out an extra couple of reps.


Creatine has been linked via anecdotal evidence to muscle cramps and headaches. Scientific studies have yet to substantiate these claims. Approximately 5% of people are non-responders, usually due to abnormally high levels of creatine in their skeletal structure.


L-GLUTAMINE


Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid which has a unique structure. It is the primary transporter of nitrogen into the muscle cell and is responsible for 35% of the nitrogen that reaches the muscle cells where it is synthesized for growth. Many research studies have shown that supplementation with L-Glutamine can achieve the following:

  • Increased Protein Synthesis which, in basic terms means the ability to build muscle.

  • It spares muscle tissue being catabolized (broken down) in order to provide glutamine for other cells in the body, therefore allowing the muscle tissue to use glutamine to synthesize new protein tissue. Catabolism occurs when Glutamine leaves the muscle causing the cells to discharge water and become dehydrated.

  • L-Glutamine supplementation ensures that high levels of Glutamine are maintained within the cells meaning no discharge of water or Catabolism.

  • Prevents Glutamine depletion in muscles after workouts. Under periods of stress, including hard and intensive workouts, your body may not be able to make all of the Glutamine that it requires. Studies have shown that supplementing with L-glutamine is effective in the replacement of these declining levels.

  • Elevates Growth Hormone levels. It has been proved that L-Glutamine supplementation can have a positive effect on growth hormone levels. Some studies have also shown that L-Glutamine may serve to boost our immune system.


FAT LOSS STACKS


Especially popular around summer time, fat loss supplements are designed to accelerate fat loss when dieting. They are usually in capsule form, taken 3-4 times a day. They are not magical pills, they are diet aids.


Many of these fat loss supplements are based around the Ephedrine, Caffeine, Aspirin stack or their herbal equivalents. These thermogenic stacks work by increasing metabolism thus allowing you to burn more calories throughout the day. People with previous heart problems should be careful of such supplements. Some of the latest stacks raise your metabolism but not via your heart, thereby making them a safer alternative.



PRO-HORMONES


Prohormones are precursors to testosterone. In simple terms, prohormones are the closest legal sports supplement to anabolic steroids and large gains can be obtained from them. There are many different types of Prohormones and the name can be long and confusing. If you are in doubt of which would be best for you, check with your supplier before purchase. Prohormones are not recommended as supplement for beginners.


HMB (beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate)


HMB is a metabolite of the branched chain amino acid Leucine. It is not a steroid or a drug and can be found in many foods (vegetables and meat). It is also manufactured by the body. HMB appears to increase the body's ability to build muscle and burn fat and has been shown to have a positive effect on protein metabolism. HMB is a supplement which causes much controversy. Many regard it as a useless supplement and a waste of money whilst other people swear by the use of HMB. The only way to find out for yourself is to try it.


MULTI-VITAMIN & MINERAL TABLETS


In my opinion, one of the few essential supplements to an athlete’s diet. People who lead an active lifestyle are much more likely to use up their bodies supply of vitamins and minerals. Taking a daily multivitamin supplement ensures that your body has a sufficient supply of these nutrients. You will not suddenly start lifting more weight, or run faster by supplementing with multivitamins, but your general health and recovery will be much improved.


FLAX SEED OIL


Flax seed oil is, surprisingly, oil made from flax seeds. Flax Seed Oil shortens recovery time for fatigued muscles after exertion and increases the body’s production of energy and also increases stamina. It stimulates brown fat cells and increases the metabolic rate making it easier to burn off fat. The dietary essential fatty acids common to Flax Seed Oil are converted by the body to Prostaglandin's (a hormone like substance) which are important for regulating the following: Steroid Production & hormone synthesis.

Our bodies are unable to produce the essential fatty acids (EFA’s) contained in Flax Seed Oil. In order to gain these we must consume this natural substance through dietary or supplement consumption. Flax seed oil is unique as it contains both essential fatty acids, alpha-linolenic (an Omega-3 fatty acid) and linoleic acid (an Omega-6 Fatty acid) in generous amounts. Flax seed oil is one of the richest sources of Omega-3 EFA’s, richer than fish oils. There are two EFA's that we need: Linoleic acid (Omega 6) and Linolenic Acid (Omega 3). A lack of these two fatty acids can cause a decrease in Testosterone levels. It is a valuable addition to the daily diet of both normal people and bodybuilders. Every diet needs a percentage of Fat. Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids are anti-lipogenic (which means they block fat storage) and increase beta oxidation (fat burning). As with multivitamins, another Flax Seed Oil is another supplement that many people incorporate into their daily supplement schedule.


VITAMIN C (Ascorbic acid)


Vitamin C assists overall body functions. It helps heal wounds and broken bones and aids in the treatment of heart disease, blood clots, cancer, cholesterol, allergies, and arthritis. It contributes to haemoglobin and red-blood-cell production in bone marrow. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant which builds up the body’s immune system to make it stronger against colds and viruses. People taking at least 200 mg daily have a 30% reduced risk of bronchitis. Some studies show that taking Vitamin C in doses of 1000 mg per day reduces the secretion of cortisol, allowing muscles to grow and you to lift better. Vitamin C will keep testosterone levels high by making the ratio of cortisol to testosterone decrease which helps your body keep up that level of performance you demand.

Good natural sources of Vitamin C include Citrus Fruits and juices, Strawberries, Green Vegetables, Onions, Tomatoes, Radishes and Rose Hips. The human body is unable to manufacture its own Vitamin C so it should be replenished in a steady, fresh supply every day. Vitamin C is not stored appreciably in the body and excess amounts are eliminated rapidly through the urine. It is suggested that you take either a timed release Vitamin C tablet, or spread your intake throughout the day. Vitamin C works best in conjunction with bioflavanoids, calcium and magnesium and Vitamin C tablets often contain one or more of these.


ALL IN ONE SUPPLEMENT


All in one supplements are becoming very fashionable at the moment. They are essentially a variety of different supplements mixed together for convenience. It is often worth comparing the price of the individual supplements against the price of the all in one alternative.


Final comments:


In summary, no supplement is 100% necessary. They are only aids to your workout and diet; I cannot stress the importance of this. Supplements, despite the advertising and marketing claims, are pretty much the same from company to company. Read the adverts, remember they are adverts and decide for yourself. For example, most people choose protein shakes on taste, cost and mix-ability rather than any special ingredients it contains. Supplements such as Creatine Monohydrate and L-Glutamine are identical from company to company (assuming they are a reputable source).


You do your best to stay healthy. You exercise. You eat right. You even wear your seat belt in the car. But are you still getting enough nutrients from the food you eat? If you’ve ever skipped a meal, or had a quick-fix junk food lunch, you probably aren’t. That may be one reason why taking a vitamin supplement might be one way for you to make sure you’re getting the right nutritional support.


Vitamins are organic compounds that the human body needs for growth, health and reproduction and to maintain normal body functions. Some vitamins are essential for growth, repair and maintenance of cells in the body. Others control biological processes in the different cell functions. Vitamins are usually in the foods we eat, however some can also be man-made. These synthetic vitamins generally work in the body the same way that vitamins from natural sources do


There are two forms of vitamins: fat-soluble and water-soluble. Fat soluble vitamins are those found in the fatty portion of cells. The body processes and stores them the same way it does fat. Fat-soluble vitamins are also not absorbed by the body unless there is some form of fat present in the digestive system, so it’s best to take them after a meal. Vitamins A, D, E and K are all fat-soluble vitamins.


Water-soluble vitamins are found in the watery part of cells in the body. They are necessary for growth and maintaining life. These include the "B" vitamins (Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B-6, Vitamin B-12), Biotin, Choline, Folic Acid, Pantothenic Acid, and Vitamin C are all water-soluble vitamins.


Stages of life impact the minerals we need. Gender, age, certain health conditions, such as pregnancy, and how active we are can affect the level and types of nutrients that are right of us.


Minerals are inorganic substances that are also needed by the body to keep functioning normally. They are necessary for carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism, and are needed to conduct nerve impulses, to keep the heartbeat regular, and for muscles to contract. Minerals control the amount of water a body can hold and regulate how it’s stored. They also help dictate the body’s acid/alkali balance and help create antibodies. Minerals are especially important in bone structure and growth. Many minerals can be found naturally in foods, such as calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and sodium. In nutritional supplements, minerals are usually compounds, not single elements: for example, calcium may be found in the form of calcium carbonate and iron may be if the form of ferrous sulphate.


There are two types of minerals found in the human body: Essential major minerals and essential trace minerals. Essential major minerals are those needed by the body in levels of 100 milligrams or more daily. These include calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and sulphur. Essential trace minerals are needed by the body in levels less than 100 milligrams per day and include chromium, cobalt, copper, fluoride, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and zinc.


So, as you can see there is a lot of depth to nutrition and we are only looking at the basics. The following is a nutritional plan that I have set out for two of my fighters in the past. It shows how with, the right nutritional guidance, you can improve performance.


Both of these athletes are at different stages in their fighting careers, one is currently active and training for competition the other is injured and at rest.


I have taken into consideration their age, weight and current fight status.



ATHLETE - 1

Name - Fighter A Age - 21 Weight 64KG Fight StatusACTIVE

Diet


Current

Recommended

BREAKFAST

1 X CUP COFFEE
2 X SAUSAGE
2 X RASHER BACON
1 X FRIED EGG
1 X FRIED BREAD

SNACK

1 X SAUSAGE ROLL
1 X SOFT DRINK
1 X BAR CHOCOLATE


LUNCH

1 X BURGER
1 X SOFT DRINK
1 X BAR CHOCOLATE


DINNER

1 X CHINESE MEAL
2 X CANS LAGER
BREAKFAST

1 X GLASS FRUIT JUICE
1 X BOWL PORRIDGE
1 X BANANA
1 X APPLE

SNACK

1 X BANANA
1 X PEACH
1 X MINERAL WATER

LUNCH

1 X TUNA/PASTA DISH
1 X ORANGE
1 X GLASS MILK

DINNER

1 X CHICKEN BREAST
1 X JACKET POTATO OR RICE
1 X SWEETCORN
1 X GLASS MILK & 1 X GLASS WATER
1 X BANNANA

So as we can see, Fighter A’s diet is quite typical of your average 21 year old.


His breakfast contains far too many saturated fats, the caffeine in the coffee, although stimulating in the morning, will only cause a need for more stimulation once it wears off.


The fructose in the fruit juice that I have recommended will stimulate Fighter A’s energy system and give him a “quick start” for the morning.


The Porridge will offer sustained energy through its complex carbohydrates and in addition is a good source of dietary fibre.


The fruit again is a source of fibre, vitamins and mineral and will offer a good energy source to start the morning.


Fighter A’s snack is again full of saturated fats (sausage roll) and sugar.


I have recommended fruit and water to offer a boost to his energy system and to maintain hydration.


The beef burger in Fighter A’s Lunch although a source of protein and Carbohydrates (the bread roll) is once again high in fat and Fighter A is still requiring a quick fix of energy through his soft drinks and chocolate.


The Past and tuna meal I have suggested is a high source of complex carbohydrates and protein which will be digested in preparation for his evening training session. The fruit again will satisfy his sweet tooth and provide a good “quick” fix to his energy system. I have added a glass of milk as a drink as this again will provide protein and calcium.


For dinner Fighter A has chosen a Chinese meal and a couple of cans of Lager.


Dependant of the content of his Chinese meal, he may well receive a good source of Carbohydrates (Rice or noodles) and Protein (Chicken, Beef or Pork)


However the food is high in salts (Monosodium Glutamate) and some sauces are high in sugar content. Alcohol does not re-hydrate the system as well as the water and in addition, if too gaseous may cause digestive problems.


I have recommended a meal of high protein (chicken), carbohydrate (jacket potato/rice), dietary fibre (Sweetcorn) and the banana will offer some potassium (mineral) replacement


That will assist in recovery from the prior event/training session.


Through these recommendations Fighter A’s recovery from training should improve.


He should feel more energetic and his general feeling of well being will also be enhanced.


In addition to this it will be easier to monitor his weight prior and leading up to competition as there is very little saturated fat in his recommended diet.


ATHLETE - 1

Name - Fighter B Age - 34 Weight 82KG Fight StatusINACTIVE ( ankle injury)

Diet


Current

Recommended

BREAKFAST

4 X PANCAKES
2 X TOAST
1 X PROTEIN SHAKE
VITAMIN SUPPLEMENTS

SNACK

1 X TIN OF TUNA
1 X PROTEIN SHAKE

LUNCH

½ CHICKEN
2 X JACKET POTATO
1 X PINT OF MILK
VITAMIN SUPPLEMENTS

DINNER 1 X FISH OR TURKEY
1 X RICE
BROCCOLI
1 X PROTEIN SHAKE
VITAMIN SUPPLEMENTS
BREAKFAST

1 X CEREAL
1 X YOGHURT
2 X TOAST
1 X LARGE GLASS FRUIT JUICE
VITAMIN SUPPLEMENTS

SNACK

1 X SMALL BOWL PASTA
1 X APPLE & 1 X ORANGE
250ML MINERAL WATER

LUNCH

AS CURRENT

DINNER

AS CURRENT EXCEPT ADD:
1 X BANANA
1 X ORANGE
250ML MINERAL WATER


At first glance, Fighter B’s diet looks healthy and in fact as diets go it’s not too bad.


Fighter B works out with weights so his protein consumption is high, as he believes it has to be to maintain his muscular frame.


Generally Fighter B eats healthily, however I felt his breakfast was too heavy and inefficient to assist him for that initial energy boost needed to start his day I therefore recommended replacing his protein shake with fruit juice.


His mid-day snack also consisted of just protein, so again I altered this to accommodate a carbohydrate snack which would assist him in glycogen release later in the day during his work – out. I also added water and fruit, Fighter B’s diet lacks any fruit and although he supplements his diet with Vitamin pills there can be no substitute for actual food.


Overall I am pleased with Fighter B’s diet and apart from a few recommendations am not overly concerned at this stage.


As he is inactive from fighting due to injury, there is no need to restrict his diet to achieve his competition weight. It is more necessary to assist his recovery, through tissue repair, by providing a well balanced diet.


VITAMIN & MINERALS FOR ATHLETES IN THAI BOXING

Due to its very nature as a contact sport, many Thai boxers receive injuries. The majority of these injuries are caused through bruising.


As well as a healthy diet I encourage my fighters to supplement their intake with Vitamins and Minerals.


Certain Vitamin & minerals can assist in recovery and also fine tune the energy system.


In addition to injury, there are toxins that travel through the body. These are the waste products from lactic acid and require flushing out.


An all round once a day Vitamin & mineral supplement will give a general insurance against the above, however, as mentioned; there are certain vitamins and minerals which will greatly assist the athlete.


VITAMIN A


Affects vision, healthy skin, teeth and epithelial tissue (respiratory & digestive tracts)


VITAMIN C


Promotes general tissue health, fights viruses and aids in the absorption of iro


VITAMIN E


Assists oxygen uptake, helps injury healing rate and red blood-cell formation, increases testosterone levels, helps form prostaglandins, aids use of vitamin A


So, already we can see the benefits to the athlete from these three Vitamins also collectively called ACE (AKA Antioxidants). In combination they act as cleansers against free radicals or toxins caused by lactic acid. In addition they also assist in boosting the immune system.


The B vitamins also play an important role, primarily in energy and metabolism.


In addition to vitamins there are also important Minerals to be taken into consideration.


ZINC


This is an important mineral to the athlete it aids the function of the enzymes which control the many metabolic processes within the body.


It is especially of importance to female athletes who take the birth control pill as it offers a stabilising affect to the hormonal changes which occur (PMT)


SELENIUM


This mineral assists the athlete in working at peak efficiency. It is hard to obtain from natural food as a source, so is recommended as a supplement.


IRON


This mineral plays an important role in the transportation of oxygen. It is also the colouring pigment of haemoglobin, to which oxygen attaches itself so that it can be transported to the active tissues for chemical respiration. Any endurance event is likely to require iron supplementation and Thai boxing is no exception.


CHROMIUM


Another mineral essential for all athletes as it has a very significant effect upon growth and energy levels through its association with the liver and the conversion of fats to energy.


In addition it also has an effect upon the immune system.


So vitamins and minerals play an important part in the athlete’s life.


There is a general bone of contention as to whether supplements are necessary. The argument being that we can receive all our vitamins & minerals through a well balanced diet.


My personal opinion is that a lot of food these days has added vitamins & minerals (bread, cereal) which is due to the processing they go through which destroys certain vitamins & minerals (heat).


Cooking for ourselves, especially microwave can destroy water soluble vitamins (B, C & D)


Therefore we can’t always rely on there being adequate amounts in our food.


Athletes burn up more calories and require higher intakes of food so need vitamins and minerals to assist in metabolism, oxygenising and repair.


It is important to note that vitamins and minerals do not replace food and do not provide energy but are catalysts that assist in our absorption of food.


A bit like having a tune up on your car, the petrol and oil is the food and the tune up is your vitamins and minerals.

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snatch & the grey man

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