Good food and nutrition is essential to the well-being of any sportsperson and directly impacts their performance and fitness levels. However, the two are very different concepts, and it is essential to understand that while food is determined by the affinity towards personal choices and is not a scientific way of thinking about it, Nutrition, on the other hand, is a scientific way of looking at the food.
It includes the qualitative aspects such as the glycaemic index, what kind of form is it in- protein, carbohydrates, fat, how much calories it is liberating. Typically during exercise, there is a wear and tear of proteins in the body. When there is an imbalance in the diet, it can lead to sub-optimal performance, and the body may not respond to the load, which are caused by strenuous activities, and this may lead to injuries.
Each injury in sports is specific; hence; we cannot have a one for all approach. When an athlete or sportsperson is injured, it is essential to take into account the nature of the injury and the sport he is playing. Most common injuries that players face are in sports such as wrestling, football, cricket, and boxing, and hockey, tennis, sprinting and running.
There is a particular diet for every sport. It is concrete to the sport, and the main determinants are the load that the athlete overcomes in his game and the recovery strategies they undertake. For example, a diet for a 100 m sprinter is different from a marathon runner. Diet for sprinting- 100 m dash includes more of carbohydrates - meat, glycaemic, Glucose for muscle building and sports like boxing, kabaddi, hockey, football, high protein diet food is required to build muscles as they generate the force. If the food is low in protein, then there is a break in muscle fibre and muscle tendon.
The purpose of a diet is to make the muscle ready so that there is no deficit from a nutritive point of view. The training load on the muscle should be balanced because even a good muscle will be overworked with extensive training. If the muscle is resting and there is burst inactivity, the kinetic chain will not distribute the load properly, and the weak muscle of the link will tear. A proper diet may also delay muscle fatigue. Injuries occur only when there is a decrease in muscle performance or imbalance in the loading of the muscle during exercise.
When an athlete or sportsperson is injured, the diet differs at that point, and it needs to be altered as there is a rest period and almost no exercise. We need to focus on the recovery aspect more at this period.
Practical steps to heal and prevent sports injuries through good food and nutrition:
- A well-balanced diet that is specific to the sport and focuses on the requirement of each game or race. This adds value to a player’s performance, leaving an impact that leads to high performance and endurance.
- Focus on good food and nutrition right from early childhood, along with a strong will.
- Sports nutrition looks after the different categories of foods such as carbohydrates, proteins and the fat in the diet and what vitamins and minerals do it contain. For example, consumption of milk is essential as it has all vital nutrients required by the body along with meat as it provides nutritional supplements such as L-Arginine, B12 and amino acids.
- Staying well hydrated - To prevent and heal sports injuries, hydration plays a critical role. The human body is made up of (almost) sixty to sixty-five per cent of water. All cells have water. If hydration is not adequate, it may affect the physiological performance of the cells, which may then not work correctly. More importantly, hydration of an athlete will depend on environmental conditions, the temperature of the place, his or her sweat rate, their water intake. Hydration means water and electrolytes. Electrolytes are also available as safe energy drinks. If we are dehydrated, it can lead to muscle cramps; fatigue will be early and may lead to a heat stroke. However, if you drink more than your body requires, exercise-induced hyponatremia occurs. Drink Ad libitum – that is only when you are thirsty.
- Other factors that help prevent and heal sports injuries include the gear a sportsperson wears, the training they receive, their fitness levels and geographical location.
- Pre-workouts are very important to prevent injuries so that the muscles can be conditioned.
- For overall well-being, 1/3 percentage depends on food, 1/3 on training and 1/3 on mental state.
(Inputs from Dr Sudeep Satpathy, Sports Scientist at Fast&Up)
Read More On Healthy Diet