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Sports Nutrition for Peak Performance

The body needs to operate at peak efficiency so the sports person can performto their best ability.With the difference between winning and losingsometimes beingafraction of a second, nutrition could be the deciding factor. Here we show you theextra nutrients neededandthe amounts you shouldhave.

Sports nutrition can affect performance

Sports nutrition summary

The nutrientsneeded are similar to the healthy eater, they both needbalanced quantitiesof all key nutrients. The sports person just needs them in higher amounts:

  • Calories - The higher intakeshouldbe spread throughout the key nutrients. Butin slightly different levels than the non-active person.

  • Carbohydrate - Primary source of energy and part of a loading phase during some sports, this has thehighest increase.

  • Protein - The building blocks of muscle and particularly needed during a hard or peak phase for repairing and building muscle.

  • Fats - Still required in slightly increased amountsdue tofat soluble vitamins and their importance for the athlete.

  • Water - Even a slight dehydration can have a negative impact on performance.

  • Sodium - Secreted in sweat, a deficiency can affect concentration as well asperformance.

  • Vitamins & minerals - The extra calorie intake will supply most of the extra quantities needed howevercertainvitaminshave evidence to show they canhave a positiveimpacton performance inlarger doses.


For a healthy eater the proportion of calories from each key nutrient should be as follows:

  • 60% Carbohydrate (each gram has 4 calories)
  • 30% Fats (each gram has 9 calories)
  • 10% Protein (each gram has 4 calories)

Insports nutrition a slightly higher percentage of protein anda lower percentageof fats would be favorable. The sports person wants to carry no excess fats.

The following table shows the extra daily calorie intake required tostay at the same weightduring normal trainingfordifferentperiods of time exercising (to the nearest 10 calories):

Total CalorieIntake
Exercise time
Weight (lb)0 (min)30 (min)60 (min)90 (min)
1502 0602 3402 6302 900
1602 2002 5002 8003 100
1702 3402 6602 9803 300
1802 4802 8303 1503 490
1902 6102 9703 3303 680
2002 7503 1303 5003 880
2102 8903 2803 6804 070


The carbohydrate intake should come from complex carbohydrates. These provide energy to the body slowly and gradually unlike simple carbs which aresudden and short lived. Good sources of complex carbohydrates include:

  • breads
  • rice
  • pasta
  • cereals
  • potatoes
  • beans
The extra daily carb intake required in sports nutrition (to the nearest 5 grams):

Total CarbohydrateIntake (grams)
Exercise time
Weight (lb)0 (min)30 (min)60 (min)90 (min)


Due to the nature of protein andit's usein muscle, some sports require a higher intake than others. These are high intensity sports like sprinting and body building. Good sources of protein include:

  • meats
  • fish
  • eggs
  • cheese
  • milk
  • beans
  • nuts
  • soy products
  • lentils
The following is the increase required during normal training (to the nearest gram):

Total ProteinIntake (grams)
Exercise time
Weight (lb)0 (min)30 (min)60 (min)90 (min)


There are three types of fats:

  • saturated
  • poly-unsaturated
  • mono-unsaturated

In sports nutrition the majority of fats consumed should be mono-unsaturated. Sources include:

  • olive oil
  • rapeseed oil
  • hazelnuts
  • almonds
  • brazil nuts
  • cashews
  • avocados
  • sesame seeds
  • pumpkin seeds
An increase is recommendedin the following amounts (to the nearest gram):

Total FatIntake (grams)
Exercise time
Weight (lb)0 (min)30 (min)60 (min)90 (min)


So many factors play a role in the amount of water a sports person requires,climate and personal physiology being the most important. There are2 schools of thought on fluid replacement for the athlete:

  1. You should drink 4 to 8 ounces for every 15 minutes of exercise.
  2. You should weigh yourself after the workout and drink 15 to 20 ounces for every pound of weight loss.

We subscribe to them both, you obviously need fluid while you exercise especially on hot days. So why not weigh yourself afterwards as wellfor a further check andtake on more fluids if needed.


Again a difficult one to quantify, the sports person does need more as it's secreted in sweat, but there are still many factors that govern how mucha particular sweats.

This is where sports drink becomes ideal, the sodium levels are perfect. One bottle of an isotonic sports drink combined with your normal fluid replacement will be adequate.

Vitamins & minerals

The extra calorie intake if it's balanced will more than cover your needs for the R.D.A. However in sports nutrition...

...There is now research that shows larger amounts of vitamin C & E can help improve performance. Supplements can provide all the vitamin C needed. The good news about vitamin E is that foods with good fats (mono-unsaturated) are alsohigh in vitamin E. These include:

  • soya bean oil
  • sunflower oil
  • almonds
  • cashew nuts
  • walnuts

Now onto beta-carotene, found in many vegetables especially carrots beta-carotene is known to improve athletic performance. For this reason it's often added to many protein powders on sale today. Doses range from 15mg to 50mg. Click here for further beta-carotene information.

Sports nutrition overall

Including sports nutrition as part of your training takes minimal effort and really can makea difference. A few minor adjustments to your diet is all it takes and you will see results.

Recommended Daily Allowances


Thevalues shownare for moderate to vigorous exercise such as running/jogging, swimming, basketball, tennis,cycling etc.

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