With frequently exercising or for long periods of time, but eating inadequately or insufficiently, sports performance can deteriorate. So it is very important to match your diet to your energy needs and type of sport. Dietitian Chernique Straathof researched for FIRST what the right nutrition is to really improve your sports performance.



Enough energy during endurance sports

In endurance sports, an athlete exercises for a long period of time and performs continuously at high level for at least half an hour up to several hours. One can think of a bicycle race or running a marathon. These intensive sports performances require a lot of energy.

When the intensity increases or the body becomes fatigued, carbohydrates or sugars provide the body with energy. Caffeine and carbohydrates help you endure the sports performance longer. Eating carbohydrates keeps your glycogen stores (your fuel) up. If these reserves are depleted, you will notice fatigue and reduced performance.


Number of carbohydrates

Your glycogen supply is enough for about one hour of workout. The amount of carbohydrates you should consume depends on the exercise. A general guideline is 40-60 grams of carbohydrates per hour and 90 grams of carbohydrates is recommended for workouts longer than two hours. If you deviate from the recommended amounts, you have an increased risk of gastrointestinal problems.


Fat & vitamins

When looking at fat, as with strength sports, it is important to get enough unsaturated fats. Vitamins and minerals ensure the efficient burning of energy, with B vitamins in particular promoting energy metabolism and helping you achieve a good sports performance.


What should you drink? 

During workouts, you can lose a lot of body fluids, which negatively affects your sports performance. Therefore, it is important to absorb enough fluids. With moderate exertion, water is fine to compensate for fluid loss. For large and prolonged exercise, the use of an isotonic sports drink can be useful. This is a drink that contains electrolytes (sodium) in addition to carbohydrates.

In this blog, I have given mainly general advice on nutrition in endurance and strength sports. Every person and every body has its own specific needs and thus the advice may differ for you as an individual. If you want to improve your sports performance, doubt whether your diet contains sufficient nutrients, or would like a personalized eating schedule, ask a dietician for advice.

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