As a sports person myself, I have come to realise very clearly why nutrition is important. Originally I was overweight. I decided, as many people do, to join a slimming club to lose weight. Most of these clubs promote a low fat diet to get good weight loss results, which it did, I lost four stone in just over four months. What I didn’t realise till much later though, was the effect this had on me.
I took up sport, and became a triathlete. I found that although I was at the recommended weight, I still wanted to lose a few more pounds and optimise my power to weight ratio. I returned to the low fat way of eating that had worked for me before. I became tired, slower, training was a struggle and I stopped progressing. I came to realise that while in calorie deficit (the low fat diet) my body did not have the nutrients required for it to function as I wanted it to.
That was not the only detrimental effect. I also became ill, and had to stop training, because I began to develop thyroid problems.
I went to seek advice and was told that I should return to a higher fat diet, but it was WHEN I ate WHAT that was key. I was also told that protein was much more important than I thought. I cut out diet drinks, the staple food of my previous weight loss group, and returned to full fat foods. It seemed very unusual indeed. Following a few simple instructions and concentrating on seeing food as fuel, I noticed immediate improvements, was much less fatigued and I lost weight while still training well. I now eat carbohydrate based on when I will be doing training during the day, and eat much more protein than I used to. I believe that it is a popular misconception that protein is only for body builders. This is not the case. The body needs protein to aid repair.
I believe that far too many athletes think that the popular diet culture belief of a low fat diet being the best way to control weight, when in fact this is completely wrong. I have personally found that a better understanding of the nutrient elements of food, their function and purpose along with some thought and planning, has produced much better results.
In my life, I now see food as fuel, and my body as an engine. It will not perform as I expect, unless I put the right mix in.