In the eyes of many, sports nutrition is still a discipline that is built on supplements and sports foods: protein powders, ergogenic aids, sports drinks and energy bars. That’s a common answer when you ask people what they think sports nutrition is about.
And then there’s another group of people who think sports nutrition support is for those who have any kind of problem: they are too heavy, they need to gain weight, they have an allergy or intolerance, their blood results are off, they have an eating disorder.
But the scope and potential of sports nutrition is much more than that.
Sports nutrition is a discipline that has several goals. Firstly, we nutrition experts want our athletes to be healthy. Only a healthy athlete can perform at his/her best. Secondly, we want to support our athletes with our knowledge to improve performance, e.g speed up recovery, avoid dehydration, maximise training adaptation, meet energy and nutrient needs (hence, avoid nutrient deficiencies), know how to fuel their race and help them succeed. And we want to protect them from injury and disease during their career but also in later life. Good nutrition support can help with all that.
Although many think you only need sports nutrition support, when there is some sort of problem, sports nutrition has become a vital part of many institutions and performance concepts that aim at maximising an athlete’s support and performance, and improving their training environment. It’s those places where nutrition is a vital tool such as fitness workouts that helps athletes to become better. It’s a place where athletes don’t ask what foods to avoid (i.e. diet myth and dietary trend mentality); it’s where athletes ask what do I have to do or change to become better. That’s a different mindset, a different way of thinking. But it’s the future of sports and successful athletes. We all know a little bit about nutrition. We all do some things right, but we all have some room for improvement to become even better.