It’s easy to focus on what to eat around an event, but in fact it is your day to day diet that has the biggest impact on performance. What you eat influences how well you can train and how fast you recover from each training session. Training puts stress on the immune system, which can make athletes prone to illness. Eating healthy foods helps reduce this stress. Special dietary techniques like low glycogen training can be effectively utilised to enhance training adaptations in endurance sports. Nutrition plans are tailored to your sport, training programme and training phase, as well as specific goals you are working towards.
In triathlon, nutrition is considered the fourth discipline, highlighting its critical role in performance. In an ironman or any ultra-distance event, a carefully planned nutrition strategy can be the difference between finishing or having to pull out of a race. In shorter events, nutrition gives a competitive advantage. When planning your nutrition strategy, we consider the type and number of events you compete in, the environment and logistics of the event as well as what has and hasn’t worked for you in the past.
If your doctor has diagnosed a nutrient deficiency, such as low iron, calcium, vitamin D or vitamin B12, you may be prescribed a supplement and be referred to a dietitian. A dietary assessment will reveal any shortcomings in your diet. Our food based recommendations will consider your eating style and food preferences to help treat the deficiency and prevent future problems.
Injuries typically result in a period of inactivity and some degree of muscle and strength loss. While athletes intuitively want to eat less during periods of reduced training, restrictive eating should be avoided as it exacerbates muscle loss and slows healing. Certain foods and supplements are known to accelerate healing and help rebuild muscle tissue and these are incorporated in post-injury nutrition plans, as appropriate.
Whilst an athlete’s physique is to some degree shaped by their sport and training, there are times weight may need to be manipulated. For instance, a light weight rower needs to make weight prior to a regatta; a weight lifter wants to increase muscle mass or an endurance athlete aims to improve power to weight ratio. A thorough assessment is an important first step, as it will ensure that it is safe and appropriate to manipulate weight . Once this has been established, a personalised nutrition plan can be developed. One of the key factors it to achieve the right energy balance, in order to achieve body composition goals without compromosing training effectiveness
While the National Food and Nutrition Guidelines are a great guide for healthy nutrition at population level, genetic factors, family history, health issues such as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, heart disease, high BMI (weight in relation to height) and food intolerances all interplay to determine the best dietary approach for an individual. Life-style factors like physical activity, food preferences, living situation and budget are also key elements that shape what is the best diet for you personally.
Adolescence is a time of physical growth and development, and increased independence. Adolescents start making their own food choices, which are often influenced by peers and advertising. Many are involved in sport and put in long hours of training. All this can make them vulnerable to nutritional inadequacies at a time of life where nutrition is critical to good health and performance. Helping them make good food choices at this time is a great investment for their future.
Exercise and diet play a major role in building and strengthening bones. Over half of New Zealand women and one-third of men over 60 are affected by osteoporosis (brittle bones), a condition which is largely prevented by life-style choices that are made at a younger age. Some athletes, particularly females, are at risk of low energy availability, a situation where energy intake doesn’t match energy expenditure. When this happens, energy is prioritised for physical activity, and there is insufficient energy left for vital processes like reproductive function and normal metabolism. The hormonal changes that occur as a consequence can lead to stress fractures and other health problems, both short and long term. The good news is that adjusting the diet can prevent these problems.
Many athletes experience gut discomfort and loose bowels during exercise. This is caused by the up and down movements in running or sitting position on a bike, combined with a reduced blood flow to the gut. Certain foods can aggravate the problem. Once the offending foods have been identified, a change in diet usually resolves or significantly improves symptoms.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common condition associated with symptoms like bloating, abdominal cramping and a change in bowel habits. Life-style factors like dietary modification, exercise and stress management can greatly improve symptoms and reduce the need for medication.