Monday 11 February 2013

Sports Nutrition Part One: A Holistic Diet For Optimum Health And Performance


This diet is for all serious sports people whether at club level, national or international level.

Over a  32 year career I've worked with a number of sports men and women from all levels; club, national and international and over a number of sporting disciplines; Rugby, Football, Road Cycling, Golf, Squash, Judo, Karate, Athletics and Tennis.

My approach to the field of sports nutrition, sports diet, sporting performance and sports injuries is that first and foremost you are an unique individual human being living in the 21st century with all the commitments and responsebilities that goes with that. Then, of course, we focus in on your particular sporting endeavor and the unique circumstances around that.

This sports diet will give you all you need to promote quick recovery from an intensive 'session'/competition and also go a long way to enhance your sporting potential.

In other words it will ensure that vital proteins, carbs, fats, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and micro nutrients are readily available to the body.

As a sportsperson, your diet needs to give you that bit 'extra' to meet the extremes you push the body to. It also needs to help you maximise your sporting potential, increase your performance and promote a healthy recovery.

Food For Sports People

Here is a list of super foods that are a 'must' in every sports persons household:

All your food must be organic and fresh which does mean more home cooking - this is a great hobby to help relax the mind after the stress of a hard training session or competition (as is growning your own vegs in your own garden/allotment).

A must is to purchase a juicer and a recipe book to make a variety of fruit juices/veggy juices and a mixture of both. Have a glass per day. A good time to have your homemade juice is one hour before breakfast.

Also, get used to making vegetable soups with chicken stock... any kind of soup, variety is the spice of life. Soups are neutral and go with either a protien meal or carb meal (an important thing to be aware of when following the 'Hay Diet'/food combining - the next step towards ideal sports nutrition which i will come to shortly).

A Note About Fat

Your training/sports diet must allow for some body fat to be distibuted around the tummy so that when you are training hard your body will convert that fat store to energy (this is why I strongly recommend eggs). Fat is a far better source of energy than carbs and is far less demanding on the body than the high carb diet most athletes have.

Fats are also a very important component of the immune system (how many athletes get colds/flu/glandular fever/chills/run down?!). In my experience endurance athletes are lacking in fat stores to convert into energy while competing. So, ensure you have sufficient heathy fats/oils in your diet in the form of oily fish (plus omega 3 supplement {not omega 6}), avocado, nuts, olive oil and some saturated fat from good quality meat and goats cheese.

The Hay Diet/Food Combining For Sports People

Food Combining is a must for sports people to optimise their health and performance potential.

Here's why.

When you eat a piece of chicken (protein) the tongue 'scans' this and sends a neurological and chemical message telling the brain that this is a protein. The brain then produces a massive acid response in the stomach to aid the protein digestion and keep the meat in the stomach for 3 hours.

When you eat bowl of porridge (carb) a chemical message and neurological message goes to the brain to say 'this is a carb'. The brian then switches off acid production (the exact opposite to protein digestion!) You can imagine how confused the brain gets when you eat a chicken sandwich or beef curry or fish and chips or Sunday roast with potatoes!!

It doesn't make sense to mix carbs and proteins at the same meal. These are food groups that 'fight' each other.

To maximise the breakdown of the protiens in fish/chicken/meat into long and short chain amino acids so the body can re-use them to regenerate muscle/ligament tissue the meat/fish/chicken must be eaten apart from carbs!!!  this is so important in the sports athlete. When you use your musculo-skeletal system to excess, the tired/damaged muscle needs to be replaced as efficiently and effectively as possible which means proteins must be digested in the stomach without the presence of carbs.

Keep PROTEINS and CARBS apart!

The Nuts And Bolts Of Food Combining

Beyond the basic premise of keeping high protein and high carbohydrate foods apart in your diet there are greater complexities to 'food combining' (although just adhering to this one simple rule will make a huge difference to your well being!). The charts below outline the fundamentals and are ideal for printing off and sticking to the fridge door.

Non starchy vegetables go well with both protien and carbs. For example, roast chicken with a pile of roast veggies is fine but no roast potatoes.

Wholegrain rice with a vegetable curry is excellent but you cannot have a beef/chicken curry.

This part of the sports diet is VITAL!!! I cannot impress upon you sports folks enough how important it is to keep proteins and carbs apart. After a vigorous work out your body is desperate for long/short chain amino acids to make every enzyme in the body and to repair the musculo-skeletal system.

Here's another chart.... don't be put off by this, it gets easier...

There is a great deal of information out there on this subject and you may wish to do your own further research. Like any new approach, it can take a while to get your head around but before long it will be second nature.

As every human being is unique the same goes for the athlete and their individual approach to their discipline. This diet is HEALTHY, it is an optimium diet to maximise your recovery and give you the maximum opportunity to compete at your highest level.

Good luck in your endevours and every success.

* Part two of this series of posts for sports people includes a step by step guide to nutrition for optimum performance during and recovery after a high intensity training session or competition.


  1. I understand the athlete must ingest amino acids in aid of micro-tears in the muscle but I have to ask during recovery or post-workout, your muscle glycogen stores in your muscle are depleted during a rigorous bout of exercise. So complex carbs i.e. sweet potatoes or brown rice are essential in replenishing muscle glycogen.

    1. HI,

      I can see where you are comming from and I know what I am offering is counter to the norm that is out there at the moment. Indeed you do need amino acids to repair the micro tears in the muscle/tendon/ligament and also for all the enzyme processes associated with this repair and every other cellular function in the body. This is the key to my approach - replenish these enzymes quickly, as they govern every metabolic process in the body. This includes the Krebs cycle and the Hydrogen transport chain - both 'driven' by enzymes. The athlete has pushed his whole body to extremes so these enzymes are depleted and must be regenerated quickly (first is to re-hydrate).

      My experience and approach is to supply this need first within the food combiniig/Hay diet with a protein meal, then, at the 2nd meal (3 1/2 hours later, after the protein meal) supply the complex carbs on their own away from a protein source. This will fully maximise the replenishing of muscle glycogen/healthy fat stores in preparation for the athletes next training session.

      My follow up blog will give a more detailed outlook.

  2. This is really informative post and I personally would like to appreciate the efforts. We are also dealing in same industry hence found this informative to add in our process also. Once again thanks for your post.


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