Eating right to achieve sports excellence

SPORTS nutrition is very important for athletes because at the most basic level, it provides a source of energy required to perform in the competition arena.

The food athletes eat impacts on their strength, training, results and recovery. In particular, diet plays a crucial role in the enhancement of performances by providing fuel to the muscles and for body fluid replacement.

Sufficient energy should come from a variety of foods that provide the athletes with enough carbohydrates, protein, fat and micronutrients to prevent injuries and enhance performance.

Sports nutritionist Jennet Judith Unying explained: “The purpose of having sports nutrition is to provide information on food and good dietary practices among the athletes to maximise performance and help develop sound nutritional habits, including preparation and food types that can benefit performance and increase the awareness of the athletes towards a healthy balanced lifestyle.”

Jennet, who began her stint with the Sarawak High-Performance Unit in October last year, tests and assesses the athletes to check if they are getting proper nutrition.

“The assessments are on body composition and hydration status. I provide consultation on nutrition.

“Some athletes have a constant issue with bodyweight with some wanting to lose weight and some wanting to gain weight in a good way,” she said.

Jennet conducts one-to-one sessions with the athletes, providing with them menu-planning and checking – within a specific month – to see if they have achieved the set target, then following up with treatment and advice, if need be.

“I conduct talks and workshops on nutritional education and coaches are invited to attend.

“They can help keep an eye on the athletes.

“Later, parents will also be invited for the educational sessions. They need to know and understand what we’re doing for their children.

“During the sessions, athletes are required to write down what food they eat to see if they’re eating the right food,” she elaborated.

Dietary awareness

Fried foods are a no-no because they burn up energy and spicy foods are also strongly discouraged.

The athletes need to know what is the “real food” they should eat and what food is good for recovery.

Jennet joins the athletes during shopping to advise them on the best choice of food.

Although she also looks after the athletes from Centre of Excellence and Centre of Development, her main focus is on the elite athletes.

With over 24 sports and almost 200 athletes to look after, she conducts workshops on requests from the sports development officers.

Jennet works closely with the Strength and Conditioning (S&C) unit, the Sports Psychology unit and others within the High-Performance Unit apart from senior nutritionists in ISN to get the latest updates and case studies on training regimens and nutrition.

“I ask the S&C unit what kind of training the athletes are getting so l can prepare the right kind of fruit juices to aid their recovery.

“For example, if the athletes do hypertrophy training, l prepare hypertrophy juices to help them recover after the exercise.

The former quality controller of a food company will be setting up a recovery bar at the Sarawak Sports Corporation (SCC) Gym in the Sarawak Stadium to prepare recovery juices for the athletes based on the type of training and workouts in the gym.

“I need to make sure the athletes have a good recovery and prevent them from getting injured,” she stressed.

Apart from teaching the athletes how to prepare their dietary requirements, Jennet also provides them with supplements, especially the elite athletes.

Source : The Borneo Post

Sarawak Sports Corporation