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Top 5 nutrition mistakes by athletes

1. Skipping breakfast

Here at AWON, we’ve previously talked about the importance of breakfast for health but it’s just as important for performance. Some athletes choose to skip breakfast due to a lack of time in the morning or in a bid to cut calories from their diet. If an athlete is training in the morning, it’s important they fuel correctly as they may not have eaten for 8-10 hours. Breakfast should contain some low glycaemic carbohydrates, quality protein and some fluid.

2. Eating at the wrong time

To optimize training, enhance recovery and maintain body composition targets, eating at the correct times around training is one of the most important requirements. Fuelling the body with sufficient macronutrients prior to training allows athletes to train harder and feel less fatigued. After a session, athletes should consume some protein with carbohydrate as soon as possible to maximize training adaptations.

3. Replacing real foods with sports supplements

Whether you’re an athlete or not, eating a diet containing quality protein, complex carbohydrates and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables is fundamental to health. An athlete should always choose real foods over sports supplements such as protein shakes and energy bars where possible. Only when an athlete hasn’t got access to the right foods to meet their nutritional goals, should they use sports supplements. Sports supplements should be selected carefully and the athlete should be aware of exactly why they are using them within their nutrition strategy.

4. Drinking insufficient amounts of fluid

A lot has been said recently about the guidelines around drinking during exercise. The debate exists around the belief that thirst is an insufficient measure of hydration status. What shouldn’t be forgotten is that severe dehydration can be very dangerous to health, let alone performance.  Athletes should aim to drink 2-3 litres of fluid every day (this does not include the fluid they need to drink to replace sweat losses during exercise). Ensuring you are well hydrated throughout the day reduces levels of circulating stress hormones, improves concentration and reduces feelings of fatigue.

5. Seeking a quick fix solution

Athletes are no different from everyone else when it comes to wanting a quick fix solution to their body composition goals. Utilizing inappropriate sources of information to find the latest ‘magic formula’ for success is a real problem and can lead to a drop in performance. Athletes should always seek the advice of a qualified practitioner with the necessary experience to deal with their needs. Ultimately, any change in body composition takes hard work and dedication over a prolonged period of time.