Thoughts from the lead nutritionist of Scotland rugby

Last week I attended a workshop on an overview and current trends in sports nutrition and I thought I’d share a few take-home messages.

“a good diet will not turn a mediocre athlete into a champion, but a poor diet can turn a champion into a mediocre athlete”

I think the most interesting thing that I learned was that ‘sports nutrition’ is only really applied immediately before, during and after competition or training sessions but the rest of the time is an athlete’s free-living, habitual diet, which is arguably more important in the bigger picture. Bouts of a cold or flu or injury can take an athlete out of training for days, weeks or months at a time and where nutrition really comes into play is starting an athlete with a healthy base and immune system to prevent or reduce the duration of ailments that may impact training. Therefore, sports nutrition is not only about improving performance but also about keeping an athlete happy, healthy and free of injury to enable them to train hard and succeed.

Teaching an athlete to respect food leads to an understanding of its power and limitations and this often comes with age. However, young athletes can always benefit from an education in sports nutrition if they are to continue in their field.

Some of the current trends receiving a lot of press and research at the moment are dietary nitrates (beetroot juice), gluten-free diets, paleolithic diets, ketogenic and/or nutrient partitioning, vitamin D, gut health, mouth rinsing and the whole food movement. I won’t go into detail about these now, but stay tuned for a little journey into the current trends in sports nutrition and their effects on performance.

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