The principles of everyday eating

To many people, sports nutrition is about carbo-loading for a competition, or having the latest sports food or supplement. However, the ‘big-ticket item’ with the most potential to influence your sports performance is your training diet. On the basis of time alone, your training diet is the aspect of your total nutrition most likely to make an impact on your body.

It also lays the groundwork that is critical to your long-term success. Everyday eating must keep you healthy and uninjured, and in top shape for your sport. And it must support you through all the training that is needed to get you to the starting line or opening bounce.


not to mention the lifestyles, of all athletes! While the focus and details will differ from one athlete to the next, there are certain goals that are common to all sports. Checklist will help you to rate the success of your training diet. If you are achieving all these goals with your everyday eating plan, then congratulate yourself for having achieved peak training nutrition.

Enjoy a variety of food

Most countries have a set of dietary guidelines, and most begin with a recommendation to ‘eat a variety of foods every day’. Some qualify this, saying, eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods every day’. Others have even quantified this information the old Japanese guidelines recommended that we ‘eat at least thirty different foods each day’. But what does variety really mean, and why does it come up over and over as the No. 1 nutrition recommendation

One of the problems with the simplistic branding of foods as good’ and bad is that it can lead to narrow and rigid eating. Some people try to follow a good diet’ by giving up all the foods they consider ‘bad’. Athletes are particularly skilled at this because they are motivated (often obsessively so) and good at self-discipline.

It takes mental toughness to stare at a black line on the bottom of a pool for hours on end, or to run kilometre after kilometre in the zone and this focus can easily be extended to breakfast, lunch and dinner. Of course, other factors such as fussy eating, real or perceived food intolerances, poor domestic skills and a tight budget can all lead to a narrow, unvarying diet.


a pill to stay healthy than to make radical changes to your eating. The problem with this logic is that joining the dots so crudely skates over the complexity of all those unknowns in the original food supply

Newspapers and scientific journals continue to report on our identification of ranges of antioxidants and active ingredients in plant foods often termed ‘phytochemicals’ or phytonutrients. Table provides a list of just some of these chemicals within each category, there may be hundreds of individual compounds.

While supplements and functional foods (foods to which some special ingredients are added) can contribute to nutritional goals, at this stage they lag well behind the genius of Mother Nature. In the future, with improved knowledge, we may be able to unravel some of her mysteries to make firm recommendations about these phytonutrients. For the moment, enjoying a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods, both in your general diet and at each meal, provides the best way to sample a little of everything food has to offer.

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