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Understanding Sports Nutrition

Sports nutrition is a distinct branch of dietetics, that deals with study and practice of nutrition and diets that are specially designed and prepared for athletes in order to improve their performance. Its needless to say, nutrition is an important aspect of sports and athletic training. Athletes and sports persons engaging in competitive sports, are advised a planned diet regime and nutritional adequacy by coaches and experts. Because of the rigorous training schedule, the body requires certain ingredients in diet or nutritional intake. However, the question always prevails “do dietary supplements actually help in achieving the goals for a competitive and demanding sportsperson?” In this article we shall discuss briefly about sports nutrition and how they can help the sports persons in enhancing their performance. .

Goals of athletes

Irrespective of the type of sports, whether it is a strength sports activity ( bodybuilding or heavy weight lifting)  or endurance sport activity (running, bicycling, rowing, trekking, swimming), an athlete always wants to be able to be healthy in mind and body. It helps to achieve higher performance levels in training, and in competitive sports. In order to achieve the above mentioned goals, a disciplined schedule is needed. Discipline is not just limited to training, but also includes food habits. While deciding the dietary supplements intake, it is always wise to be aware of the body type, bodily requirements as well as being careful about the  benefits and risks of taking supplements. The final result of any competitive sports is the outcome of a series of activities that has been undertaken by the whole team.

The dietary supplements given to the athletes are also called ergogenic aids.However to keep it simple in common language they are called sports supplements and nutrition.It is time and again, always mentioned in our articles, the supplements do not replace a healthy balanced diet. The supplements may aid in achieving a higher performance level.

Components of supplements for exercises and athletic training

The sports supplements may contain various components such as protein and amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins, micronutrients such as specific minerals, herbal extracts etc either singularly with varied amounts, or in combination to present a specific recipe.

Broadly sports supplements can be divided into

-Energy supplements

- Recovery supplements

- Performance enhancing supplements

The supplements are usually administered orally in the form of powder, pills, liquid, concentrate , capsules or tablets.

Energy Supplements

Supplements that are taken by athletes in order to enhance their ability to train or exercise for longer duration of time or more frequently are called energy supplements. Common supplements that increase the athletes’ energy include caffeine, Guarana, Asian Ginseng. Vitamin B12 etc. These supplements are usually taken as pre-workout  . supplements. Caffeine which is taken as an energy enhancing supplement may also be found in commonly used coffee. Guarana is also frequently used as a weight loss supplement as well.

Recovery Supplements

After rigorous exercises, a recovery phase is accelerated by taking supplements like proteins and amino acids, these are called recovery supplements. Protein as a nutritional supplement helps the athletes in cellular repair, better oxygen transport, enzymes and hormonal production and conversion to fuel.

Performance enhancing supplements

In order to quickly put on body mass or muscle mass body builders use some substances. Creatine can be used by well trained athletes in order to improve exercise performance and strength with relation to their nutritional regiment. It is also advocated that glutamine has an enhancing effect on anabolic processes.


The sports supplements market has grown in the last decade at an unprecedented rate. This shows the trend of popularity of sports supplements among the general population. However unlike any other food substance, the sports supplements should be taken under expert supervision and guidance in order to get the benefits and avoid any risks that may be associated with such products.