Eat Like Esky: Scientific Insight into the World of Sports Nutrition Chapter 1 (Intro)

This is my first attempt at blogging, so I will do my best to keep things informal, since I am so used to writing scientifically in an academic setting. The series of blogs I will be writing will touch on a wide range of sports nutrition topics, such as what to eat leading up to, during and after training/competition, the proper intakes of different nutrients like carbs and protein, and of course, the truth about supplementation. The information I will be providing throughout these blogs will not be my personal beliefs, instead I will be merely regurgitating info from scientific journals/articles, which means research has been done to defend these claims. I will do my best to cite these sources, but when I can't, I will try and provide links to help answer any additional questions you readers may have.

About Me
It's never easy to describe yourself, but here's a little about my background in relation to sports nutrition. On the academic side of things, I have a Honors BSc. in Sports Medicine Health Sciences from Norwich University (Vermont, USA), my CSCS (certified strength and conditioning specialist) through then NSCA, and am currently taking my Masters in Sports Nutrition from the University of Guelph. My background athletically also has strong ties to the world of sports nutrition. I earned an athletic scholarship to Norwich for ice hockey, allowing me to study and play NCAA hockey. My experience there was very successful, both individually and as a team, winning a national championship and earning All-American honors as one of the top defensemen in the nation. After I graduated, I was fortunate enough to play a few years of professional hockey, both in North America and Europe. When you reach elite levels in sports, the talent level becomes very even, therefore athletes need to use different ways to gain an edge over the competition (nutrition, physical training, mental training). The reason I highlight my athletic career is because I attribute a lot of my on-ice success to my sports nutrition knowledge and habits. However, now that I am part way through my Masters, I also realize that some of the things that I was doing may have been doing more harm than good.

The Bottom Line
So when it comes to nutrition and sports performance, what should you do? There are a million sources and companies telling you what is best and that their product or diet is a must have to enhance your game. Although many of these products are useful, they all have a time and place. For example, I study under one of the world leaders in hydration research, and although he is the chair of the Canadian Gatorade Sports Science Institute, he will be the first to tell you sports drinks aren't for everyone. Let's face it, the more people a company can appeal too, the more product they will likely sell.
What an athlete eats/drinks plays a huge factor in how they will perform. The same can also be said about the weekend warrior who is looking to improve their fitness level. When we eat healthy and exercise, these things can work together leading to greater results. On the other hand, poor nutritional habits can hold us back from making the gains we are trying to achieve. Therefore, combining healthy eating habits with exercise is the most effective way to help us reach our fitness or sport performance goals.
When it comes to weight management, the bottom line really becomes calories in vs. calories out. What I mean by that is balancing how many calories we intake daily vs. how many calories we burn throughout the day. This does not mean if you eat 2000 calories a day, you must burn 2000 exercising. Our bodies burn the majority of calories we intake just to sustain itself (this is your Basal Metabolic Rate). What this does mean, however, is we need to adjust our intake based on our training. Therefore, if we are training a lot during a day or week, we need to make sure we are eating enough to properly fuel our body before during and after exercise. If your goals are related to weight gain or loss, your results will almost always be determined by how you alter this ratio. I will be writing a blog going into more detail about weight management and sport performance, detailing how an individual can play with that ratio to effectively lose weight, gain muscle, or sometimes do both.
Hopefully this breakdown can give you a little bit of info into how important nutrition is to sports performance and gains. The next blog I will write will address the carbohydrate needs of athletes before exercise. In this blog I will talk about why carbs are portrayed as bad and how this claim is far from accurate when it comes to sports nutrition needs.

Greg Eskedjian
BSc. CSCS, MS candidate

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