Healthy Sports Nutrition: Fuelling Your Inner Athlete

Healthy Sports Nutrition: Fuelling Your Inner Athlete
Posted on 5 March 2024

Healthy Sports Nutrition: Fuelling Your Inner Athlete

Embarking on a journey to adopt a healthier lifestyle through sports nutrition might seem like a daunting task, especially if you’re not a nutrition expert. However, fear not! This  guide is here to break down the basics of healthy sports nutrition in a way that even the most clueless among us can understand.

1: The Power of Fuelling Right

Just like a car needs the right fuel to run efficiently, your body requires proper nutrition to perform at its best. Sports nutrition is not just for professional athletes; it’s for everyone looking to enhance their physical performance, whether you’re hitting the gym or going for a jog.

2: Macro Madness

Let’s start with the basics: macronutrients. These are the big players in your diet – proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Proteins help with muscle repair and growth, carbohydrates provide energy, and fats support overall health. The key is finding the right balance for your individual needs.  In most cuisine of the world Protein Carbs and fats turn up in balance and the quality of food source the better the macronutrients.  Simple healthy snack ideal Almond nut butter on an oatcake with a lick of honey to sweeten if desired.

3: Protein – The Muscle Builder

Proteins are the building blocks of muscles. Include sources like lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy, and plant-based options like beans and tofu in your diet. Aim for a protein-packed snack like simple handful of almonds, or protein smoothie shake after workouts to support muscle recovery.  It’s optimal to get this protein combined with carb within 20 mins of exercise to aid muscle  and glycogen restoration.  65% of of human population have reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy, if you are one of the 35% who can Chocolate milk is simple way to get carb and protein in and if like the vast majority go for lactose free options.  * see note below for more. 

4: Carbs – Your Energy Reservoir

Carbohydrates are your body’s primary source of energy. Opt for complex carbs found in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. They release energy slowly, helping you stay fuelled during workouts and preventing the dreaded energy crash.  Simple idea for healthy breakfast, overnight oats and chia seeds soaked in water, juice or milk.  Add honey or jam and chopped fruit to serve for tasty fast healthy breakfast or snack.  ** see note below for more information.

5: Fats – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Not all fats are created equal. Focus on healthy fats like avocados, nuts, and olive oil. These fats contribute to overall well-being and can provide sustained energy for your workouts.  See extensive note below ***

6: Hydration Station

Staying hydrated is crucial for optimal performance. Water is your best friend here, but if you’re engaged in intense physical activity, consider sports drinks to replenish electrolytes lost through sweat. I love making my own electrolyte drink with fruit juices, maple syrup and himalayan sea salt and other times I use good quality shop bought electrolytes solutions. 

7: Timing Is Everything

Eating the right foods at the right time can make a significant difference. Fuel up with a balanced meal a few hours before exercise and replenish with a mix of protein and carbs afterward to aid recovery.

8: Supplements – The Cherry on Top

While whole foods should be your primary source of nutrients, supplements can be beneficial. Consider options like protein powders (whey & vegan options like pea protein), multivitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids, but always consult with a professional before adding them to your routine.  Ensure you buy the best quality you can afford as it’s vital.

Probiotics and prebiotics provide key benefits in sports nutrition, supporting a healthy gut microbiome, nutrient absorption, and immune function for athletes. A balanced gut microbiota enhances energy metabolism and reduces inflammation, improving overall athletic performance. Foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and garlic are rich in probiotics and prebiotics, while supplements offer targeted strains and fibers. Diversifying sources is crucial for a resilient gut.

In mental health, probiotics influence neurotransmitter production, potentially aiding mood regulation. Weight loss may benefit from certain probiotic strains impacting factors like fat storage and appetite. While not a sole solution, incorporating probiotics into a balanced lifestyle can complement weight management efforts, with individual responses varying. Candida dysbiosis may lead to sugar cravings, addressed by a low-sugar, anti-inflammatory diet with probiotics and anti-fungal foods. Seek personalized advice from a healthcare professional.

9: Caffeine – The Pros and Cons.

Caffeine, a natural stimulant in coffee, tea, and energy drinks, boosts alertness and cognitive function by blocking the sleep-inducing neurotransmitter adenosine. It also enhances physical performance by releasing neurotransmitters like dopamine. While moderate consumption has benefits, excess intake poses health risks such as insomnia, jitteriness, and increased heart rate. Habitual large amounts can lead to dependence and withdrawal symptoms. Prolonged exposure can contribute to cardiovascular issues and impact bone health. Opt for healthy sources like green tea and black tea, but be mindful of individual tolerance to avoid potential dangers. If sleep is affected, eliminating caffeine can restore normal sleep patterns within a week, emphasising the importance of quality sleep for overall health. ***** see below for more

10: Listen to Your Body

No one knows your body better than you do. Pay attention to how it reacts to different foods and adjust your nutrition accordingly. If you’re feeling fatigued, you might need more fuel; if you’re not hungry, don’t force yourself to eat.  The quality and type of fuel you give yourself will result in corresponding energy levels, eat crap feel crap, eat well feel well. Your choice. 

Congratulations! You’ve completed this guide to healthy sports nutrition. Remember, adopting a healthier lifestyle is a journey, not a sprint. Start implementing these simple tips into your routine, and soon you’ll be on your way to unlocking the full potential of your inner athlete. Cheers to a healthier, fitter you! Good fats and bad fats refer to the different types of dietary fats and their impact on health. Fats are an essential macronutrient that provides energy, supports cell structure, and aids in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. However, not all fats are created equal, and their effects on health can vary.   Do see the bottom of blog for some healthy snacks and meals options for inspiration.

Extra Notes 

* Protein 

Determining the optimal protein intake per kilogram of body weight is a crucial aspect to enhance athletic performance and support muscle recovery. Recommended protein requirements vary depending on factors such as the type, intensity, and duration of the sport, as well as individual goals and body composition. Generally, athletes are advised to consume between 1.2 to 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily. Endurance athletes towards the lower end of this range, while those engaged in strength or power sports may benefit from higher protein intake. Protein plays a vital role in repairing and building muscle tissue, aiding in the recovery process post-exercise. It is essential for athletes to tailor their protein intake based on their specific training regimen and individual needs, ensuring a balanced and effective approach to sports nutrition that promotes optimal performance and overall well-being.

In sports nutrition, achieving an optimal balance between protein and fats is crucial for enhancing athletic performance, supporting muscle growth, and maintaining overall health. The recommended protein-to-fat ratio varies based on individual goals, training intensity, and the specific sport. Generally, athletes are advised to consume a protein-rich diet, with protein contributing around 15-25% of their total caloric intake. This ensures an adequate supply of essential amino acids necessary for muscle repair and recovery. Fats, on the other hand, should constitute approximately 20-35% of total daily calories. Including healthy sources of fats, such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil, can provide sustained energy and support various physiological functions. Striking the right balance between protein and fats is essential for optimising energy levels, promoting muscle synthesis, and sustaining long-term athletic performance. Individualised nutrition plans, tailored to the specific needs and goals of athletes, play a key role in achieving an ideal protein-to-fat ratio in sports nutrition.


For optimum sports nutrition, determining the recommended carbohydrate intake per kilogram is crucial for optimising athletic performance and supporting the energy demands of physical activity. Generally, athletes are advised to consume carbohydrates within the range of 3 to 7 grams per kilogram of body weight per day, with the specific amount depending on the intensity, duration, and type of exercise. Endurance athletes engaging in prolonged activities such as marathon running or cycling may lean towards the higher end of this range, while those involved in shorter, high-intensity sports may find the lower end sufficient. Carbohydrates serve as the primary fuel source for muscles during exercise, and meeting the appropriate intake ensures glycogen stores are adequately replenished, reducing the risk of fatigue and enhancing overall endurance. Balancing carbohydrate intake with other macronutrients is essential for a well-rounded sports nutrition plan, providing athletes with the energy and nutrients required to excel in their chosen activities. As individual needs may vary, consulting with a sports nutritionist or healthcare professional is recommended to tailor the carbohydrate intake to specific training goals and personal requirements.


***The two main categories of fats are saturated fats, unsaturated fats (which include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats), and trans fats.

1. Saturated Fats:

   – Bad fats: Saturated fats are often considered “bad” fats because they can raise LDL cholesterol levels, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

   – Sources: Saturated fats are commonly found in animal products such as meat, poultry, full-fat dairy products, and certain tropical oils like coconut oil and palm oil.

2. Unsaturated Fats:

   – Good fats:

      – Monounsaturated fats: These are considered heart-healthy fats that can help improve cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

      – Polyunsaturated fats: These include omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are essential for the body. They have anti-inflammatory properties and support brain health.

   – Sources:

      – Monounsaturated fats: Olive oil, avocados, nuts (e.g., almonds, cashews), and seeds.

      – Polyunsaturated fats: Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel), walnuts, flaxseeds, and sunflower seeds.

3. Trans Fats:

   – Bad fats: Trans fats are considered the most harmful and are linked to an increased risk of heart disease. They raise LDL cholesterol levels and lower HDL cholesterol levels.

   – Sources: Trans fats are primarily found in partially hydrogenated oils, which are often used in processed and packaged foods, such as some margarines, snack foods, and baked goods.

In summary, a healthy diet includes a balance of fats, with an emphasis on unsaturated fats, particularly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Limiting the intake of saturated fats and avoiding trans fats can contribute to better heart health and overall well-being. It’s essential to read food labels and make informed choices when selecting fats as part of a balanced diet.

Caffeine expanded 

**  Caffeine, a natural stimulant found in coffee, tea, and certain energy drinks, offers several benefits when consumed in moderation. It enhances alertness and improve cognitive function. Caffeine blocks adenosine, a neurotransmitter that induces sleepiness,  increasing neuronal activity and releasing neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine. Moreover, caffeine can enhance physical performance by mobilising fatty acids from the fat tissues.

It is crucial to note that excessive consumption of caffeine can lead to various health risks. High doses can cause adverse effects such as insomnia, jitteriness, increased heart rate, and digestive issues. Habitual consumption of large amounts of caffeine can result in dependence and withdrawal symptoms, including headaches and irritability. Prolonged exposure to high doses  also contributes to cardiovascular issues and negatively impact bone health. Therefore, while moderate caffeine (healthy clean sources like green tea, percolated coffee and black tea) intake can be part of a healthy lifestyle, it is essential to be mindful of individual tolerance levels.  Avoid excessive consumption to prevent potential dangers to health.  If your not sleeping well eliminate caffeine and notice within week your sleep returning to normal. Sleep is vital for health. 

The optimal dosage of caffeine for sports performance can vary depending on individual factors such as body weight, tolerance, and sensitivity to caffeine. However, research suggests that a moderate dose of caffeine, typically in the range of 3 to 6 milligrams per kilogram of body weight, can enhance sports performance for many individuals.

Here are some general guidelines:

1. Low Dose (3 mg/kg): This is a relatively low dose that may still provide some performance benefits without causing significant side effects. It’s a good starting point for those who are sensitive to caffeine.

2. Moderate Dose (3-6 mg/kg): This range is often considered the sweet spot for many individuals. It can improve endurance, strength, and overall exercise performance. It’s important to note that individual responses vary, so it’s advisable to start with a lower dose and assess tolerance.

3. High Dose (>6 mg/kg): While some studies suggest performance benefits at higher doses, there is a diminishing return, and the risk of side effects such as jitteriness, increased heart rate, and gastrointestinal distress also increases. It’s generally not recommended to exceed 6 mg/kg.

It’s crucial to experiment with caffeine intake during training sessions before an important event to understand how your body responds. Factors like the timing of consumption, individual tolerance, and the type of sport or exercise can influence the effectiveness of caffeine.

Keep in mind that individual responses to caffeine can vary, and some athletes may be more or less sensitive to its effects. It’s also essential to consider any pre-existing health conditions, medications, or personal preferences.

As with any supplement, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or a sports nutritionist to determine the most suitable dosage for your specific needs and circumstances. Additionally, staying hydrated and being mindful of other sources of caffeine in your diet is important to prevent potential negative effects.

Here are some healthy and easy sports nutrition snacks and meals:


  • Greek Yogurt with Berries: High in protein and antioxidants.
  • Trail Mix: Combine nuts, seeds, and dried fruits for a balanced energy boost.
  • Hummus and Veggie Sticks: A tasty way to get protein and vitamins.
  • Banana with Almond Butter: Provides quick energy and healthy fats.
  • Cottage Cheese with Pineapple: A protein-rich option with a touch of sweetness.
  • Whole Grain Crackers or Oatcakes with Cheese: Offers a good balance of carbs and protein.
  • Hard-Boiled Eggs: A portable source of protein.
  • Apple Slices with Peanut Butter: Combines fiber, natural sugars, and healthy fats.
  • Smoothie with Protein Powder: Blend fruits, yogurt, and protein powder for a quick, nutritious option.
  • Vegetable Sushi Rolls: Nori wraps with veggies and lean protein.


  • Grilled Chicken Salad: Include a variety of veggies and a light vinaigrette.
  • Quinoa Bowl with Roasted Vegetables: Packed with fiber, protein, and vitamins.
  • Salmon with Sweet Potato: A great source of omega-3 fatty acids and complex carbs.
  • Stir-Fried Tofu and Vegetables: High in protein and fiber.
  • Turkey and Avocado Wrap: Whole grain wrap with lean protein and healthy fats.
  • Whole Grain Pasta with Tomato Sauce and Grilled Chicken: Balanced carbs and protein.
  • Lean Beef or Veggie Burger with Whole Wheat Bun: A satisfying source of protein.
  • Omelette with Spinach and Feta: A protein-rich breakfast or post-workout meal.
  • Baked Salmon with Quinoa and Steamed Broccoli: Omega-3s, protein, and fiber.
  • Vegetable and Chickpea Stir-Fry: A plant-based option with protein and fiber.
  • Overnight Soaked Oats and Chia Seeds served with yoghurt and fruit.
  • Oatcakes with almond nut butter and honey

Remember to stay hydrated and tailor your portions to your individual energy needs and activity levels.

Get the latest Physiotherapy news delivered monthly to your inbox! View our Privacy Policy. You can unsubscribe any time.