Don’t Play The Nutritional Numbers Game

The more vitamins and minerals you eat, the less you will have to understand about nutrition.

Runners are driven by numbers. In racing, a second or two can make the difference between placing in your age group or walking home empty handed. In training, calculating split times, lactate threshold values and recovery times are critical elements to improving your fitness. To be a successful athlete, numbers are a big part of the equation — and most often the part that is over-appreciated.

A stopwatch requires power to measure time, but the value of its reading is only as good as the body’s ability to make it happen. As a result, nutrition is no less a culprit, perhaps even more, of the numbers game then splits. Where the focus of those numbers are placed, however, can have a huge impact on one’s overall performance.

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Unfortunately, the weight of attention for the majority of society is almost exclusively placed upon calories, and the athlete is no exception. Sports nutrition is laden with formulas to help determine performance, but the daily diet of athletes is driven by calories, or caloric consumption, of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Subsequently, the numbers, quantities and appearance of vitamins and minerals on the athlete’s plate have been marginalized and need resurgence in foundational nutrition. Without them, one’s macronutrients cannot be effectively utilized and converted into energy, which limits the body’s ability to perform and recover.

Just because you’re fit doesn’t mean you’re healthy, or vice versa. Knowing the difference between the two will go a long way to a sustainable lifestyle. Racing or recreational running doesn’t intrinsically make one healthy.

Athletes require more diligence in regard to their nutritional program as a result of the physical and emotional stresses placed upon the body. Its important to understand that nutrition is more then just carbohydrates, proteins and fats, and that fueling is not just about what you eat while training and racing. These three elements are critical, but it’s vitamins and minerals that allow for their conversion into a useable form of energy for the body. A deficiency in the supporting structures to one’s overall nutrition program can lead to diminished energy production, inefficient repair of tissues and cells, excessive weight and a depressed immune system — all of which contribute to sub-optimal performance. If you’ve experienced a plateau in your training, are overweight or have recurring injuries, an assessment of your micronutrients would be a good place to start.

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