Different sports place different demands on the body. Therefore there are different considerations with respect to nutrition. Generally, nutrition for endurance sports is mainly focused on keeping up with fluid and energy requirements in the body and ensuring a good recovery. In the case of strength sports development and regeneration of muscle mass is an important focus. Team sports are often a combination of endurance and strength with exercise of varying levels of intensity (explosive bursts, alternated with lower intensity phases), lasting between 60 to 90 minutes.
Muscle tissue is ‘active’ tissue in which breakdown of muscle protein and muscle protein synthesis (protein build-up) continuously take place. Muscle mass increases when the build-up exceeds the breakdown. Strength training stimulates muscle protein synthesis and results in an increase in lean mass and a decrease in fat mass. (1) An increased muscle mass from a higher muscle protein synthesis can only take place when an adequate supply of high-quality protein or sufficient (essential) amino acids are available. Therefore good basic nutrition with sufficient fluids and protein-rich foods distributed evenly throughout the day in 4-6 meals or snacks providing 20-25 grams protein are particularly important for strength athletes. When the day to day nutrition does not provide sufficient protein or it is not always possible to eat at particular time (e.g. after the training), then protein replenishment in the form of sports-specific foods can provide a solution. (2-3)
For endurance athletes good basic nutrition with sufficient carbohydrate is important. A good balance between training and carbohydrate helps to optimise the glycogen stores. During intensive training sessions or a race it is important for an endurance athlete to limit the loss of fluids, to prevent help prevent gastro-intestinal distress and to provide sufficient energy as carbohydrate. The aim is to quickly absorb fluids and fuels and most sports drinks consist of water with some salt and sugars to speed up absorption. (4-5) In the recovery phase after prolonged exercise muscle repair and regeneration is also important for endurance athletes. Therefore an endurance athlete is also advised to have 20 grams of protein within the first 2 hours after a training session or race.
Team sports are characterised by high intensity intermittent exercise of varying levels of intensity (explosive bursts alternated with lower intensity phases), lasting between 60 to 90 minutes. This makes team sports a combination of strength and endurance sports. Of course, good basic nutrition is important for team sport athletes with special attention to ingesting sufficient fluids and carbohydrates to support exercise for periods lasting longer than an hour. Good recovery is also important for replenishing the glycogen stores and protein for repair and regeneration of muscle. Elite team sports athlete are advised to take a portion of 20 grams protein in the first 2 hours after a heavy training session or match.
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- Cermak N.M., Res P.T., de Groot L.C., Saris W.H., van Loon L.J. (2012). Protein supplementation augments the adaptive response of skeletal muscle to resistance-type exercise training: a meta-analysis. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2012;96(6):1454-64. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.112.037556. Epub 2012 Nov 7.
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- Beelen, M., Burke, L.M., Gibala, M.J., and van Loon, L. J.C. (2010). Nutritional strategies to promote postexercise recovery. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. 2010;20(6):515-32.
- Jeukendrup A. (2014). A Step Towards Personalized Sports Nutrition: Carbohydrate Intake During Exercise. Sports Medicine. 2014;44 (Suppl 1):S25–S33. doi 10.1007/s40279-014- 0148-z.