We all need a little help from time to time and that’s especially true when it comes to having a healthy lifestyle. Planning and maintaining a diet can be really tough, and there’s no shame in struggling – especially after you’ve been doing it for a while and you’re looking for the motivation to keep going.
If you were a top sportsman, all of this would be taken out of your hands. You’d have a nutritionist to plan out your diet and give you all sorts of tricks and tips to try.
Luckily, many of nutritionists have revealed their secrets over time, giving us tasty morsels of advice to snap up and use for own benefit. Here are some of the most unusual ideas we’ve seen put forward by sports nutritionists:
U.S. Olympic Committee senior sport dietitian Shawn Hueglin gave an eye-catching interview to Excelle Sports with some insider tips on nutrition. Perhaps most oddly was the suggestion that pureed fruit and vegetables (baby food) is good for athletes to have as a snack either side of a competition!
Excelle wrote: “These portable pots of produce are designed for infants and toddlers who need nutrient-packed snacks in small, easily digestible quantities—perfect for athletes, too. Baby food can be especially helpful for those who deal with nerves or a sensitive stomach before competition”.
Chad Nicholls, who worked with Mike Tyson as well as a number of bodybuilders, stressed the importance of individualism when it comes to a diet and workout plan. He said: “Though I have set theories or philosophies, I always cater the diet and training programme to fit the needs of the person. As well, I always offer the answers and am able to answer my clients’ questions”.
“When preparing a diet or training program for the athlete – I always give them the reason why they are eating a certain way or why they should take certain supplements or why they should do a certain type of workout program, etc. By being able to explain to the athletes why they do the things they do, I gain their trust and by doing so, they are more likely to stick to and follow the program and gain success”.
Julie Neville (nutrition expert and wife of footballer Phil Neville) points out the importance of getting recovery snacks right. She said: “We are all guilty of thinking we can treat ourselves to something full of fat, sugar or calories when we have done some exercise. But this is how you can easily undo all of the good work. For athletes, it is vital that they eat the right nutrients to help their bodies repair and recover quickly”.
“Research has shown that the body is most receptive to carbs and protein within the first 45 minutes post-exercise. I like to call this the ‘refuel window’. Post-exercise snacks should include carbs, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to refuel, repair and revitalise your body”.
Tennis is a good example of an intermittent activity that needs to be powered by lots of short bursts of energy. Rebecca Stevenson, former head of sports nutrition for the Lawn Tennis Association, pointed out the importance of keeping a tennis player’s fluid levels up during a game.
She stated: “The player will need to drink their sports drink throughout the match to help replace fluid loss and provide energy. Powdered sports drinks can be diluted to different concentrations depending on how much energy is needed, which in turn depends on the exertion of the game and weather conditions. For instance, a less concentrated drink prioritises fluid over energy. Players will need between 500-1,000ml an hour depending on the conditions, so they will sip at every change of ends”.
Fat is also an important part of a balanced diet. An article on Dietitian Cassie explains why this is especially necessary for runners. It states: “Runners NEED fat to to lubricate and protect their joints and organs, to aid in recovery, help their body with temperature control and the absorption of nutrients, and to keep their body fueled and appetites satisfied. Please hear me out: low-fat diets for runners are SO damaging. Make the vow today to stop depriving your body of a macronutrient that it so essentially needs. Make sure to include nuts, seeds, avocado and real butter in your daily intake. You won’t regret it”.
Be inspired by this unusual advice from sports nutritionists and see if your performance improves.