What would happen if you stopped eating and still training? You would probably not train for one week. We eat to nourish our bodies and to improve performances in specific aspects of our lives. Our bodies are like machines and they need to be fed properly. Good nutrition is fueling the body with the correct amount of food, best quality and at the right time. Under Nourishing is when you do not take the required amount of food. Most Sportspeople do not take keen interest on proper nutrition and that negatively affects their Sports performance.

Here are the effects of under nourishing….

Low Energy = low performance. As a sportsperson you need carbohydrates like rice, maize, wheat and pasta for energy. When carbohydrates are not consumed in correct amounts (more or less), it can lead to reduced energy levels. Carbs are key for fuel and energy and lack of them in the body will only leave your body drained and without energy and that will slow you down. On the other side, when you overconsume carbs, your body will slow down as one will gain weight which can also affect sports performance.

Dehydration and fatigue. Part of fueling includes drinks and they also help rehydrate your body. When you don’t hydrate then the body gets dehydrated and you become weak and also fatigued. Dehydration can lower your blood volume and pressure as well as reduce your sweating which cools your body as you train or during match day. Proper hydration days to and during event day is very key.

Muscle loss and quick to injury and slow recovery. Our bodies use proteins from our diet to build muscles that we use during workouts or training, when your diet does not contain enough protein then the body cannot build muscle and if you happen to be consuming less carbs, then muscles are broken down as fat. This affects one’s performance and also physical body. We require protein to help trained muscles to recover. Less protein means longer recovery periods.

Compromised immune system– when you as an athlete do not consume enough protein, vitamins and minerals then you will experience more infections and that affects your training or match days. Lack of vitamins and minerals is broad and ranges from anemia (poor intake of iron and B12) which can affect blood supply and hence reduce performance. Lack of Vitamin D is linked to strong bones for aiding in movement. It is important to make sure you are getting enough nutrients and supplement when necessary.

Undereating affects women’s reproductive health. If not consuming enough calories and nutrients and doing strenuous activity, then you affect your fertility and ovulation. Secondary amenorrhoea or missed periods is mostly due to low fat levels and under consumption of carbohydrates for energy. Studies have also shown ladies with Secondary amenorrhoea are likely to fracture their bones due to the low estrogen levels as a result of poor nutrition.

So, the next time you miss out on a meal remember it might affect the end goal which is performance and endurance.

Image courtesy: si.com

By Eunice Nthenya

MSA Nutrition Expert

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