Fueling for performance
Whether you are a recreational, competitive or elite athlete, fueling is a crucial part of training. Athletes are a population that need to ensure that they are fueling adequately to meet the energy demands on the body. The sport you practice may impact your specific macro-nutrient needs, such as fat, protein and carbohydrate intake.
Relative energy deficiency in sport, a term coined by the International Olympic Committee in 2014, refers to inadequate energy availability to support the demands of optimal health and performance in both men and women of all ages . Below is a figure illustrating the potential effects of relative energy deficiency in sport.
At baseline, an athlete must provide their body with enough energy for it to function, perform and repair itself. Because physical activity often impacts appetite, it can sometimes be difficult to fuel adequately throughout the day. The dietitian will be able to assess your baseline energy needs and provide recommendations and strategies to meet the energy demands of your day, while also considering your training schedule, job and other obligations that may interfere with your access to food. It is important to remember that getting enough food is the most important part of nutrition for sport. You cannot tailor your intake to performance if your body is being restricted of energy.
If your body is already getting enough energy or you have worked with a dietitian to get to this point, you can tailor your intake to optimize recovery and performance. Specific macronutrient (protein, fat and carbohydrate) intake at certain times of day may be pertinent for a given sport.
Chronic injuries in endurance sports such as running can be common. While a physiotherapist and coach can help address the specific injury, sometimes medical doctors and dietitians can explore how your current behaviors and lifestyle may be contributing to this. A common example is an individual with recurrent stress fractures. I cannot stress enough that stress fractures ARE NOT a normal part of training and are often representative of an underlying problem. A dietitian can help rule out or address hormonal imbalances due to inadequate intake or impaired recovery due to intake of poor quality food.