The principle aims of sports nutrition are to:
- optimise performance
- reduce the risk of injury and illness
- ensure the best recovery
This means that most recipes will have a particular focus on carbohydrates and proteins.
The main role of carbohydrates in physical activity is to provide energy. If you do not eat enough carbohydrate, performance and recovery can be impaired, as carbohydrate is the key fuel for the brain and for muscles during exercise.
The body stores carbohydrate in the muscles and liver as glycogen, and use these stores as a source of fuel during exercise. Glycogen stores are limited, so it is important to be fully fuelled at the start of any exercise, particularly endurance exercise.
Protein is important in sports performance as it can boost glycogen storage, reduce muscle soreness and promote muscle repair. A good amount of protein should be included at each meal and consumption should be evenly spread throughout the day.
To aid recovery, it is recommended to consume 15-25g of protein between 30 minutes and 2 hours after training, along with some carbohydrate.
My favourite sport recipes are designed to deliver plenty of carbohydrate to build up energy stores before a training session or event and to provide sufficient protein along with other nutritious ingredients to optimise recovery.