Technology and sports nutrition

Incorporating technology and science into athletes’ eating plans is the new norm in sports. Elite international athletes scientifically plan their nutrition to maximise performance.

Optimising performance: The goal of lactate threshold testing is to determine the maximum effort an athlete may put in during training or competition before reaching the point of no return due to excessive blood lactate levels. Athletes know that improving sustained speed and strength while playing at the lactate threshold is one of the keys to success.

Optimising performance: The goal of lactate threshold testing is to determine the maximum effort an athlete may put in during training or competition before reaching the point of no return due to excessive blood lactate levels. Athletes know that improving sustained speed and strength while playing at the lactate threshold is one of the keys to success. | Photo Credit: AFP

Incorporating technology and science into athletes’ eating plans is the new norm in sports. Elite international athletes scientifically plan their nutrition to maximise performance.

It’s incredible how technology has changed sports. Thanks to technology, an athlete’s data can be collected and analysed to develop new tactics and improve performance.

Sports nutrition, too, has evolved over the years. I start my 11th year at the Qua Nutrition clinics where I have had a first-hand experience of how things have changed all these years. Incorporating technology and science into athletes’ eating plans is the new norm in sports.

I am working with Kenneth Bednarek, an American Olympic silver medallist at the Tokyo Games. We have been using a lot of technology, analytics, and data to plan his nutrition strategies to make him fly on the track.

Here are 11 ways technology is becoming important in sports nutrition:

Nutrigenomics

What if science could advise you on what to eat to fulfil your unique nutritional needs? Or what foods you should avoid so that you don’t harm your body?

Nutrition dramatically impacts athletes’ performance, but different people react differently to the same meals, nutrients, and supplements. Consuming milk may benefit some athletes, but may not benefit those who are lactose intolerant. Athletes following a diet trend may get injured or put on weight if their genes do not align with that diet. Genetic variations impact how we take in, digest, use, and excrete nutrients. Athletes’ responses to different food strategies must be considered alongside their unique nutritional needs while determining their meal plans.

Microbiome testing

An athlete’s performance-recovery time is greatly influenced by the gut bacteria in his/her body. Each individual is a walking microbiome since the body is home to millions of viruses, bacteria and fungi.

We have both good and bad bacteria in our gut.

Athletes’ gut flora significantly impacts how effectively they compete and how quickly they recover. Gut bacteria affect brain function, stress tolerance, inflammation, and even mental toughness which are crucial for athletic performance.

Lactic acid strips and Nitrate testing strips

Many athletes, teams, and coaches make use of lactate threshold testing and training, one of the most popular and valuable performance indicators in endurance sports. The goal is to determine the maximum effort an athlete may put in during training or competition before reaching the point of no return due to excessive blood lactate levels. Athletes know that improving sustained speed and strength while playing at the lactate threshold is one of the keys to success.

As the name suggests, Nitrate testing strips help measure Nitrate levels in the body which is essential for athletic performance.

A greater Nitric Oxide level may improve an athlete’s overall performance and endurance, especially in fit and healthy athletes.

Training and recovery

Training consists of several activities, and each activity has different strain levels. By exerting as little strain as possible during the day, you may optimise your energy for exercise. Tracking these activities and behaviour can determine how much athletes are training and the strain they are putting their body under. It can also determine whether they are overdoing it.

Recovery is another important aspect of sports nutrition and plays a vital role in enhancing performance. Certain habits and behaviours can hinder proper recovery; if we have that data, necessary changes can be introduced to the routine.

Sweat analysis

Sweat testing measures your sweat rate (how much fluid you lose each hour) and sweat salt concentration (how much sodium you lose in your sweat) in order to assist athletes in customising their personal fluid and sodium consumption requirements.

The results of sweat tests may be utilised to develop a preliminary plan for consuming salts and fluid.

Heart rate monitoring

The frequency of heart beats per minute is known as heart rate. The heart rate rises during activity to ensure that the muscles’ immediate needs for oxygen and nutrients are addressed.

The heart rate while resting is often lower in trained athletes, and they recover more quickly from training/workout sessions because their bodies become more efficient at handling the regular load. Athletes use heart-rate monitors and fitness wearables to track their heart rate.

Nutrition also impacts the heart rate.

Oxygen saturation monitoring

For primary bodily functions to be at their best, lung function must be maximised. The capacity of the lungs to distribute oxygen across the body is necessary for metabolism, blood pressure, and muscular function. Keeping oxygen levels within normal limits helps improve exercise. With the use of portable, precise pulse oximeters, athletes can now measure their oxygen saturation levels before, during, and after exercise, thanks to scientific developments and cutting-edge technologies.

Reaction time

One of the most essential abilities a sportsperson may have is reaction time. Athletes wanting to compete at the highest level must keep honing their coordination abilities. Elite athletes use stroboscopic sensory training to build brain strength and speed up information processing. This is similar to the world appearing to be moving slowly, the brain processing information at a higher rate as a result of functioning in hyperdrive.

Circadian rhythm

Re-timer light therapy glasses promote natural sleep using the effects of light therapy on the human body. It helps you regain control of your body clock by resetting to an ideal circadian rhythm.

Your circadian rhythm, proper operation, and continued synchronisation with night and day are essential for your sleep quality and general health. Athletes may perform better, learn faster, recover more quickly, and grow when they get more and better sleep.

PEMF

Using pulse electromagnetic field therapy helps cells naturally regenerate and stay healthy. Athletic performance is enhanced, and recuperation durations are shortened.

Athletes need to be in top physical shape to perform at their best. PEMF treatment prepares the muscles for prolonged effort and quick recovery. PEMF therapy enables athletes exert more effort, lower their risk of injury, and perform at their peak during the sessions.

Dietary planning software

At the Qua Nutrition clinics, we use proprietary software which has evolved over time with our experience of working with different athletes spanning 18+ sports. The software captures the minutest detail from your training schedule, training load, food preferences, and diagnostic reports to your sleep wake-up cycle and the white spot on your nails. The captured data allows us to constantly keep track of progress, see the improvements, note the deviations, and strategically plan nutrition for better performance.

The advancement of technology has made the inclusion of science in diet possible. Elite international athletes scientifically plan their nutrition to maximise performance. Indian athletes are slowly catching up. But we still need coaches and athletes to be more educated on sports nutrition for it to reach the masses.

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