Sound nutrition is the foundation for health, optimum physical performance and the pursuit of excellence. Therefore, it stands to reason that one should employ balance when applying the basic principles of nutrition. The nutrients we take in via our food and drinks contribute directly to the way we look, think, behave and perform in sports and life in general.
“If you have no time for complete and balanced nutrition, you better reserve a lot of time for illness” Dr. Michael Colgan
WHY DO WE NEED NUTRIENTS?
Nutrients are required to provide energy, tissue growth and repair as well as to satisfy the metabolic functions of the body. Nutrients are divided into 6 categories all of which play a specific role in meeting the needs of the body. These categories are as follows:
Amino acids from protein provide the building blocks for new cell production and the repair of old cells.
Required for energy production and are store in the liver and muscles in the form of glycogen.
A concentrated form of energy, yielding, twice as much energy as protein or carbohydrate per gram. Fats form part of all membranes such as the skin, brain and nerve tissues acting as an insulator.
The most essential of all nutrients. Water makes up 50% – 70% of the human body and all body reactions take place in a water based medium. Water is a work performance facilitator and a 1% loss of body water can cause a 7% loss in performance.
Needed by the body in small amounts, they are organic compounds that provide no energy and cannot be used as a fuel source; however they regulate the metabolic processes of energy production, growth maintenance and repair. They are fat soluble e.g. (a, d, e and k) and water soluble e.g. (b and c). Fat soluble vitamins are stored in body fat and not the water soluble vitamins which need to be replaced regularly.
Inorganic compounds performing a variety of functions within the body e.g. (iron is crucial for the formation of haemoglobin). They contribute to the bodies regulatory functions e.g. Muscle contraction, conduction of nerve impulses and blood clotting.
It is therefore imperative that balance is the key to a healthier lifestyle. To merely “count calories” in order to lose or gain weight is not the answer. One needs to understand the effect that different foods have on the way we look and perform both physically and mentally.