Food is Not the Enemy
Don't look at food as something that adds pounds onto your frame and seconds onto your time. If you think you need enormous amounts of food to maintain your size, think again. Others of you may think nutrition has nothing to do with your training or performance. But fueling your body optimally will increase your energy levels, enhance the quality of your training, help you to get the most out of each of your training days, improve your hormone profile, decrease inflammation, and decrease your chance of overuse injury.
Start to view nutrition as your training partner, your essential tool to optimizing your health and performance. Think of it this way: We spend so much time strengthening, stretching, and training to achieve a body that is in balance. But, what does a body is in balance look like on the inside? There are many amazing athletes who, on the outside look like they have the ultimate body in balance. They train hard day in and day out, they are lean and they are competitive. However, with one look inside, you may find that this picture of perfection is actually on the brink of a complete meltdown. By not fueling the body properly, the environment created on the inside is one of chaos. By not giving the body the correct fuel that it needs, it becomes catabolic or in breakdown mode.
When the body becomes catabolic, it begins mobilizing fuel from inefficient sources like muscle. When the body is not fueled properly it is also in a constant state of stress. Your cortisol:testosterone ratio is out of whack as a result of increased cortisol (nasty stress hormone) and decreased testosterone (building hormone). The microscopic damage to the muscle never really gets a chance to fully heal. Your resting heart rate may increase and you may have decreased endurance and power. This unbalanced state sets the body up for a greater risk for sickness, fatigue, depression, inflammation, injury, loss of competitive drive, and ultimately underperformance.
Proper nutrition is one of the tools that can be used to put the body back into balance after training and prevent the chaos that can occur with prolonged insufficient nutritional habits. Ensuring you are getting enough calories and all of your nutrients each day will allow the body to run efficiently and energy stores to be full.
Engaging in a pre- and post-workout nutrition routine after each workout will help to restore your body's hormone profiles to normal, refuel your body, and jumpstart the recovery and repair of the body. Proper nutrition day in and day is one way to prevent the body from slipping into a spiral of overtraining and injury risk, and to improve your overall health and performance.
About The Author
Amanda Carlson-Phillips – Amanda Carlson-Phillips is the Vice President of Nutrition and Research of Athletes' Performance. As a registered dietitian, she has provided educational seminars and individual counseling to a variety of professional and elite sports organizations.