Fuelling smartly: getting proper sports nutrition is important

sportsnutritionAdding activity to your routine is a key contributor to health and happiness and the Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA) is dedicated to helping Canadians live to the fullest and achieve their health goals. However, getting the proper sports nutirion is important too. With your summer workout routine in mind, CHFA’s in-house holistic nutritionist, Michelle W. Book, has a few tips to help you improve power, enhance performance and optimize hydration:

Boosting power

When looking to boost your power or strength at the gym, you want to stimulate new muscle growth through resistance and endurance training. How effectively you repair and build muscle depends on the availability of protein in your body. Make sure your muscles have access to the protein they need by consuming protein-rich whole foods like lean meats, eggs and fish, and vegetable sources such as beans, lentils and legumes, nuts and seeds, tofu, and grains like quinoa.

If you’re looking to supplements for a convenient source of protein, whey- and casein-based proteins from dairy sources are the most popular, but the growing trend towards plant-based foods and supplements has led to an increasing number of plant-based protein powders, including pea, hemp, soy and rice protein. These are available at a CHFA Member health food store in your community. Experiment with a few different options to find the fit that’s right for you.

Enhancing performance

Can you push harder, run faster, reach farther and dig deeper?

“Fuelling smartly before a workout with complex carbohydrates for sustained energy release can give you an edge to push yourself that extra bit,” Michelle Book explains.

Chia seeds are a great source of carbs and also deliver protein and omega-3 fats. Whole grains like brown rice are also packed with complex carbs for sustained energy release while being low in calories. Chickpeas are another surprising energy-rich food, packed with protein for an added boost.

“Omega-3s are an often-overlooked supplement that can help to enhance your performance,” Book points out. These are heart-healthy fats that not only protect our blood vessels, but their anti-inflammatory effects help to reduce muscle soreness after a workout, as well.

Finally, B-vitamins, including vitamin B3 and vitamin B6 are key players in the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which helps us contract our muscles and process carbs for energy.

“Making sure you’re getting enough of these vitamins and minerals from foods or supplements is crucial,” Book says, “not just for your overall health, but also for optimal performance when you exercise.”

Optimizing hydration

One of the drivers of athletic performance is maintaining the balance of fluid and electrolytes in our bodies. Body fluids are essential for removing waste and toxins, maintaining proper neural and muscle function, regulating body temperature, delivering fuel, and taking the brunt of shock absorption while lubricating our joints.

“Skip the energy drink and try coconut water or maple water, which are naturally rich in electrolytes,” Book explains. Electrolytes are minerals, like sodium, chloride, magnesium and calcium, which keep neurons firing and muscles contracting.

Canadians are becoming more aware of the role nutrition plays in taking their exercise goals up a notch. Some are pushing for a new personal best time on a 10-kilometre run, while others want to add some lean muscle and lose a few centimetres around the belly, and many are looking to boost their energy. Visit chfa.ca to learn more about how you can reach these goals and more. This site will also help you locate a natural health retailer to assist you on the journey – NC

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