Coach Education: Performance Nutrition –Scottish Gymnastics
This section is designed to provide gymnastics coaches with some background information in Sports Nutrition and some information to support them when talking to gymnasts and parents. There are several downloadable PDFs for coaches to access more detailed information.
Performance Nutrition Strategy
Training is the fundamental basis to any sports performance. However ensuring appropriate strategies to support this training are key for optimal gains. These include:
Appropriate nutrition to support growth and training
Appropriate rest and recovery – aiming for 8 hours of sleep a night
The importance of Sports Nutrition:
Energy requirements are made up of 4 components. These include:
o BMR – this is your basal metabolic rate and accounts for the energy your body requires just to stay alive; this will vary within individuals and is dependent on age, gender and body composition – the higher your lean muscle mass, the more metabolically active you will be at complete rest.
o Thermal Affect of Food – Our bodies use energy in order to digest the food we eat – for a typical mixed diet you will use 6-8% of your total energy intake to actually digest the food you have consumed that day.
o Physical Activity – this is obviously the most variable component of energy expenditure and it is very likely that your requirements will be much higher than your peers of a similar age due to the volume and intensity of training you do. This includes all elements of physical activity such as your day to day walking around, PE lessons as well as your sport specific training.
o The Energy Cost Of Growth – this is a very costly process especially at certain times – boys tend to grow very rapidly between the ages of 12-16 years and for girls is around 11-14 years. However this is also very dependent on genetics and energy intake. Within this you have the actually energy cost of growing and then a further amount of energy is required to actually deposit tissue.
If you do not fuel your body correctly, it will affect your performance as you will not have sufficient energy available to train. It can also hinder your growth. If the body doesn’t have sufficient energy availability, it will slow down any additional processes within the body, such as growth and puberty in order to preserve as much energy as possible.
So what is the key difference between healthy eating and Sports nutrition?
Sports nutrition is very specific to the individual and the sport. It takes into account:
The type of sport, the volume of training, the age of the athlete , the gender of the athlete, the intensity of the training session and the type of training – gym; apparatus; mat
The key role of sports nutrition is to ensure:
Optimal adaptation from training , Body composition gains , Consistent performance allowing for progression , Prevention of fatigue and a Healthy immune system
A performance Nutrition plans includes tailoring nutritional choices to training – thus increasing carbohydrate around high intensity or endurance based sessions; ensuring optimal choices in recovery in order to encourage repair and adaptation between sessions and a good intake of fruit, vegetables and essential fatty acids to prevent fatigue and boost your immune system.
A high intensity session will be measured either by working at 70% of your max heart rate or above; or if you don’t use heart rate you can use perceived exertion so any session that you know will be at a level of 7/10 or above.
Similarly a low intensity/recovery session or rest day is measured by working at 60% of your maximal heart rate and below or a perceived exertion of 6/10 or below.
Nutrition and the immune system