Athletes learn about proper sports nutrition

Jodi Schellenberg
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A presentation on sports nutrition was held at the Saskatchewan Polytechnic Prince Albert campus on Tuesday evening to help athletes learn a variety of topics.

Heather Hynes, a registered dietician with the Sport Medicine and Science Council of Saskatchewan, spoke with athletes, students and parents about sports nutrition at the Saskatchewan Polytechnic Prince Albert campus on Tuesday evening.

“I’ve been brought in to really talk about sport nutrition from the point of view of the training diet, hydration, your timing of food intake and pre and post either training or competition nutrition,” said Heather Hynes, a registered dietician with the Sport Medicine and Science Council of Saskatchewan.

“It is a pretty big topic and I would say a kind of evolving area in sport science to really look at the types of nutrients you are eating and then how to get that maximum training adaptation,” she added.

Instead of just following the Canada Food Guide, Hynes said they want to look past that to looking at how many grams of protein and carbohydrates they need per day depending on their goal.

“For parents, it is a huge asset for them to understand how to feed their athlete to really get the most out of the sport that they are paying for,” Hynes said. “For older athletes, they start having the maturity to start taking on the responsibility for their own food choices and it is going past fast food and thinking about the quality and quantity they are eating.”

One of the biggest struggles Hynes sees athletes dealing with is not getting in enough calories.

“They go through their busy day, whether that is work and training or school and training and they don’t give their body sufficient calories for the goal that they have,” Hynes said. “So if they have a goal of putting on muscle mass but they are not taking in enough calories, it is almost impossible to achieve that goal.

“For many of them it is almost a light bulb that goes off of them being like, ‘Yeah, I do feel tired all the time and I’m training hard but I’m not getting faster, I’m not getting stronger,’” she added. “Usually it is a pretty motivated group to want to change because they have that sport goal in mind already.”

Athletes can start organizing their food intake based on what type of training they are doing, she said.

“If it is a strength training workout, we know that if we give the body carbohydrates and protein beforehand -- so like yogurt and fruit beforehand -- and then something afterwards, like a full meal that has carbohydrates and protein, we will get less muscle breakdown during the workout and perhaps the ability to then build more protein and muscle after the workout,” Hynes said.  

“There has been a lot of research looking at the timing of intake and really trying to maximize what types of things we have access to right around those training sessions,” she added. “It has really led to the development of sports supplements, but we don’t need usually any of that stuff, we can just get it from food.”

Instead of talking about supplements, Hynes focuses on food first.

“Usually the supplements are really easy because you just shake it and drink it but thinking about why those ingredients might be in that supplement, what the science actually is and then how we find those ingredients in food is really important,” Hynes said.

“That is a huge market, but people don’t realize where those protein sources actually come from,” she added. “Most people’s diets are ample in protein to start with, they just maybe don’t have it at the right time.”

An actual serving of meat is about two and a half ounces and the average person has about an eight ounce serving at a time.

“For that person, the idea of having even more protein coming in from a protein supplement is ridiculous and expensive,” Hynes said.

Another topic she was speaking about was hydration, which is either omitted or overdone.

“It is just talking about the importance of how much they should be having, really regulating their body temperature to maximize their performance,” Hynes said. “Then hopefully there is some discussion too with the individuals too that come that they can ask question about things they may be struggling with depending on the sport they are involved with as well.”  

Organizations: Sport Medicine and Science Council of Saskatchewan, Canada Food Guide

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