16 May 2012 | by Julia Buckley
Matt Lovell is one of the most sought after sports nutritionists in the country. He’s currently working with many of Britain’s best athletes in preparation for the Olympics. Fitness Rocks got him to share some exclusive performance nutrition secrets we can all benefit from…
- You are what you eat –pay attention to the quality of your food, how it’s packaged (less plastics) the cleanliness of your water– (reverse osmosis filtered water is ideal).
- Eat protein with all their meals to help muscle tissue recover after exercise and to support your immune system.
- Ensure you eat sufficient carbohydrates to fuel high intensity activity and this will vary depending on how intensely you are training. This is called flexing – where you alter what you eat according to demands and body composition requirements.
- The main emphasis on athlete’s fat intake is normally be on omega 3 rich sources as many athletes have high levels of omega 6 fats in relation to their omega 3’s – this is because grains, vegetable oils, most nuts and seeds, and commercially based goods (cakes, biscuits, pastries) have lots of omega 6 in them. The ratio will alter how cells communicate and how much inflammation occurs in the system.
- Think of pigment foods as power foods - the naturally occurring pigment in green leafy vegetables is rich in carotenoids and chlorophyll and the berry fruits are rich in polyphenols.
- Stock up on spices and herbs as these also contain active components that help the body heal and protect cells against damage.
- Pay attention to your sleep patterns, athletes often follow special sleep protocols and supplements are used to support this vital element of excelling in a particular sport. We call this the performance triangle; eat, sleep, train - getting one piece wrong can lead to suboptimal performance.
- Identifying the foods you are best suited to is vital if you are to achieve optimal performance – especially with athletes where a fraction of a second can mean the difference between winning gold or silver. IGG food testing by YorkTest laboratories (www.yorktest.com) is one method I use to help athletes identify trigger foods that may be causing fatigue, headaches – or other symptoms linked to food intolerance.
- Improve the balance in your diet between acid forming foods such protein and grains and alkaline forming foods like vegetables and fruits – these need to be balanced to ensure your body function at its best.
- Finally, take rest when you need it - even top sports stars don't train every day.
Matt Lovell is a leading sports nutritionist and the author of the Four Week Fat Loss plan.
Tags: how athletes eat
, matt lovell
, olympic nutrition
, sports nutrition
, what athletes eat