I think I would not be honest if I said that nutrition in the performance sector does not need addressing, it’s a taboo subject and extremely complex on an individual level as everyone has such vastly different experiences and relationships with food. In this post I’m going to be rather broad but also try to lay out my stance on the subject, which of course is flexible depending on the performer but this would be a default position for a “normal person”, whatever a normal person is?!
I think as a population we are often transfixed on calories and macronutrients (carbs, fats and proteins), and I understand why, these are the fuels and building blocks that allow performance to occur, and for recovery to take place effectively. They are the big blocks, in many ways. However, I think the sub-optimal perception of nutrition in the performance sector is driven by body composition desires and requirements. Historically there has been so much pressure on performers to look a certain way, and for physical comparisons to take place either consciously or sub-consciously that it has warped the ingrained meaning of what nutrition is to the performer.
I believe that first and foremost, nutrition is about nourishment, which sounds super cheesy but without this nourishment within our diets, all the aspects run in sub-optimal circumstances and therefore will not be as effective. This could mean the performance of our gut and microbiome, for the appropriate expression of genes and/or hormones, be as profound as affecting our circadian rhythms and sleep performance…. As well as our ability to use fat as a fuel, retain or build muscle or keep a general healthy body composition that allows us to function well and look how we might want.
So where do you start if you’re wanting to start that journey of reframing food? I think a good think to start with initially are the basics, which sounds obvious, however, it’s not very sexy and therefore people tend to overlook them. Getting those basics entrained into habits that can be used for the next step. It's important to be realistic, therefore selecting one of the points below and working on that is much more manageable than going for all at once. Being realistic will reduce the amount of pressure you'll put on yourself.
If we want to build a healthier performer that will be able to function optimally for more of their career, and to therefore have longer, more successful careers. Then we really do have a great deal of work to reframe what nutrition means. Hopefully we can give you some useable bits of knowledge to start your journey.
Thanks for reading