Food for 6S: Sports Nutrition 101

On Saturday September 8th, we celebrated the launch of the Food for 6S Nutrition Program 2.0 with a Sports Nutrition 101 workshop. The workshop was presented by myself (Leigh Merotto) and sport dietitian Alysha Coughler – we are both excited to be a part of the Crossfit 6S family and are thankful to all those who came out to the workshop!

In case you missed it, or attended and want to review what you learned, here is a recap:
In the workshop, we presented an overview of some basic nutrition information, and then provided specifics about nutrient timing and composition before, during and after workouts. We also briefly discussed sport supplements and hydration guidelines.
Why is sport nutrition important?
Sport nutrition builds the foundation for optimal sport performance. Nutrition is essential to support training adaptations to exercise – because who doesn’t want to get bigger, stronger, and faster! In addition, if you want to see changes in your weight and/or body composition, optimizing your nutrition also plays a huge role.
As you can see from the diagram above – which summarizes nutrition priorities in sport performance -,before we can look at changing factors such as meal composition, nutrient timing and supplements, we need to ensure our overall diet is healthy and balanced in order to meet our fitness and health goals.
To build a healthy foundation:
1)    Choose unprocessed, fresh, whole foods most often
2)    Eat enough to support your activity needs
3)    Ensure variety; have different colors and types of foods
What are macro & micronutrients?
Both macronutrients and micronutrients are important to support health & physical activity. Micronutrients are those nutrients needed in small amounts, including vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids & trace elements. Macronutrients are those that are needed in larger amounts and supply us with energy (aka calories).

The 3 macronutrients include:

  1. Protein: Protein provides the building blocks for our body and is used to make muscles, bones, blood, enzymes, hormones, etc. Protein helps keeps us full, regulates blood sugar levels, and of course, is necessary to build and repair muscle tissue.
  2. Carbohydrates: Carbs are our body’s preferred source of energy and we need to ensure we eat enough to support our activity levels. Sources of carbohydrates include milk, fruit, vegetables, and grains.  
  3. Fat: Fats are essential for energy, hormone production & activation, and nutrient absorption. The three main types include saturated, unsaturated & trans fats. We want to emphasize unsaturated fats (nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, fatty fish), and ensure we are getting sufficient amount of omega-3 fatty acids – an anti-inflammatory.

​Overall, we want to ensure we have enough macronutrients and micronutrients in our diet to support our health and activity needs. This will vary from person to person based on factors such as age, training intensity, medical issues, etc; however, the principles of good nutrition remain universal. For personalized recommendations, do not hesitate to get involved in our new nutrition program where we can work with you to determine your exact needs!

Fuel, Recover & Repair
Now that we have set the stage for good nutrition, we can get into a bit more detail about nutrient timing and meal composition. Here are some nutrition guidelines to support your training:

Pre-Workout:

  • Avoid training on an empty stomach
  • Try to have a small snack (1 hour) or a meal (2-3 hours) before
  • Focus on carbs & protein, but low fat and fiber to prevent digestive discomfort

Examples: protein powder + oatmeal, greek yogurt + banana, scrambled eggs + toast, protein bar

Post-workout:

  • Eat a meal or snack within 30-60 minutes of finishing your workout
  • Aim for 30-60 g of carbs and 20-30 g of protein to replenish your glycogen stores and kick-start muscle protein synthesis

Examples: salmon, sushi, turkey wrap, low fat smoothie, low-fat muffin + protein shake

Intra-workout:

  • For exercise longer than 60-90 minutes, aim to have a small snack every 45 minutes 
  • Focus on carbohydrates and fluids to keep muscles fueled and to prevent dehydration
Hydration 
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! For both active individuals and the general population, proper hydration is essential for overall health. As a general guideline, drink 1 liter of fluids per 50 pounds of body weight, plus an additional 500 mL for every hour of activity per day. Focus on water, but sports drinks, milk, juice and tea also count towards fluid intake (although you should consult with your dietitian before consuming sugary drinks). Monitor your hydration status by checking your urine color, thirst level and mood (concentration, energy level).
Supplements
It is important to remember that you can’t out supplement a bad diet! Make sure that all other factors are optimized first (caloric balance, macronutrient composition, meal timing) before using supplements to improve performance and see body composition change.
There are currently 5 sport supplements shown to have moderate performance benefit, including caffeine, creatine monohydrate, beta-alanine, and sodium bicarbonate (IOC Consensus, 2018). Sports foods such as protein powders, sports drinks and electrolytes also have benefits in certain situations.
Summary
You train hard, and put in the work, so it is no surprise that you want to see progress! Whether your goals are performance-based (strength, power, endurance) or to see changes in your weight and body composition, at the end of the day proper nutrition is what will get you there faster.

We hope that you learned something new from our workshop, and that you put some of these guidelines into action! As always, diet and nutrition should be individualized so if you want a more personalized nutrition plan to support your health & fitness goals, we suggest getting involved in our new Food for 6S Nutrition Program!
 
Written by: Leigh Merotto, Dietetics Student & Nutrition Team Member

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