Healthy nutrition is important for everyone, especially to stay healthy and prevent diseases. In addition, nutrition has an important influence on your sports performance. If all nutrients are present in the right amount, it can help you improve your sports performance and achieve your goals physically and athletically. Dietitian Chernique Straathof researched for FIRST what the right nutrition is to really improve your sports performance. 


The influence of nutrition in strength sports

With strength training, such as weightlifting and bodybuilding, the workout is primarily aimed at building strength and thus muscle mass. For building muscle mass, protein is essential. When you have eaten a meal, your body breaks down nutrients. Protein is broken down into amino acids with the help of enzymes in your stomach and small intestine. These are building blocks for all of the body's cells, including our muscle cells.


How do muscles repair themselves? 

After a strength training session, small tears form in your muscles, and your body sends a signal to stem cells and growth hormones to repair it. The process of muscle repair, in which broken muscle cells use the new supply of amino acids to repair the muscle tears, is called muscle cell protein synthesis.

So, strength training is a constant process of breaking down and building muscle mass. Damaging it and then repairing it again through proper nutrition and recovery time ensures that you gain muscle mass after a while. Sources of protein mainly derive from animal products such as meat, meats, fish, egg, milk and milk products. Plant sources of protein include soy, legumes, and nuts.


Protein for muscle recovery

The daily recommendation for protein has long been set at 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. As an athlete, you have more muscle mass and therefore need more protein. The guideline is 1.0-1.7 g/kg of body weight, where for strength athletes it is more towards 1.7 g/kg. It is also advisable to spread the protein well throughout the day, taking in about 20-25 grams each time. Finally, it is important to eat a protein-rich meal or snack after a strength training session to help your muscles recover.


Carbohydrates and the right fats

Carbohydrates are often unfairly underestimated in strength training. Carbohydrates provide energy, allowing you to train harder. Sources of energy include caffeine, of course, and sources of carbohydrates include bread, cereal, fruit, dairy products, potatoes, legumes, rice, and pasta.

Relatively, you need less fat as a strength athlete, but it is important to get a small amount of the (good) unsaturated fats. Examples of products include olive oil, avocado, nuts, fish oil, and flaxseed.

For optimal performance, fluid is also important in strength sports. A sports drink is not necessary in many cases because the workout often does not last longer than an hour. Therefore, hydrating with water is best!

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