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Nutrition versus Supplements

The body is a complex machine and when it is asked to complete certain tasks, it has to be in full working order. It requires energy to function and a steady supply of said energy for when it is carrying out tasks such as playing a sport.

The simplest method of obtaining energy is through a well balanced diet. The digestion of carbohydrate allows the release of sugars that provide energy for muscles. If carbohydrate is in short supply, glucose can be obtained from the breakdown of protein or fat. Excess carbohydrate is stored as glycogen. Energy is not the only requirement of the body. "Building blocks" in the form of protein and minerals are also necessary. They help form muscle and bones.

A well balanced typically diet comprises of three meals a day, each of which contain a mixture of carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals. The amounts of each required depend on the age and how active the person is. On the whole, most people find that creating a balanced diet is simple – in the UK the premise of "getting your 5 a day" is seen as a useful guide. This comprises of consuming at least two fruits or vegetables in each meal of the day, to ensure the daily requirements of vitamins and fibre and other essential nutrients are consumed.

For an active sportsperson, the need to create a nutritionally balanced diet is paramount! The balance of energy-producing foods would need to be tailored to the person's daily routine. The classic 3 meals a day may go by the wayside. A meal would be advisable a few hours before a workout and this would be of easily digestible foods. Thirty minutes before the exercise or sport an energy bar would help in boosting energy reserves. Throughout the session it is always advisable to have reserves of water available to help in keeping the body hydrated.

Once activity has been completed and the body has rested, a meal should be taken to help replenish the glucose stores. It should be easy to follow a well-balanced diet as stores stock plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables but, some people still feel the need to improve their diet with the addition of supplements. Supplements can be taken in a single form or as a multi format. They are taken orally and ensure the daily requirements of vitamins and minerals are covered.

There are some concerns about these as the manufacturers are not as strictly regulated as with medicines, so the safety and effectiveness of the supplements may not be proven. The construction of a well-balanced diet need not necessarily be provided by a health care provider, whereas it may be advisable to speak to one for the addition of supplements to a diet.

As long as the body continues to function and provides the owner with the goals they wish for, it really is a personal choice as to whether a well balanced diet is followed with or without added supplements.

Reggie Johal is a former Great Britain American Football player with a background in strength and fitness coaching with articles published in many leading online and print magazines including Muscle and Fitness.

Reference Sources 254
December 30, 2010


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