Every athlete dreams of racing their personal best. All preparations are made to ensure that they race to their limit. The expensive gear, hours and hours of training, topnotch coaching—these are usually what athletes spend their time and money on. But, what about sports nutrition? Why does it remain the last priority for most athletes?

Why the neglect?

Considering it’s importance, why is sports nutrition a highly neglected aspect of any athlete’s preparation. My guess is it’s not as “sexy” as the other aspects of the chosen sport. For example, a new bike is more interesting than, say, trying out a new energy gel brand. Training with the most sought-after coach is a “more exciting” topic than telling your friends what you drink during a race.

Whether sports nutrition as a topic is sexy or not, we cannot escape the fact that it can still spell the difference between a good and a great race. And, truth be told, whatever amount of time is spent on buying the latest gear or training with the latest “it” coach, should also be spent on planning your nutrition for sports.

Why Sports Nutrition?

Sports nutrition is more than just drinking water and eating on the race. Sports nutrition is a juggling act balancing fueling, hydration and electrolyte balance. It also involves what you eat and not eat on any given day. You might ask why what is eaten outside of training and racing is considered part of sports nutrition. It is because whatever you consume on a regular day affects how you perform the next training or race day.

Expounding on the aspects on sports nutrition during training and racing, fueling encompasses your energy sources. This is what your body runs on for long distances. Hydration, on the other hand, is your water levels. People often get hydration and fueling confused. It’s just like getting gasoline and water for your vehicle switched up. They are both important but they each have a specific function for the vehicle. Hydration is important to keep your body’s core temperature at the right level lest you risk overheating or dehydration.

Electrolyte balance involves making sure your body gets a full spectrum of electrolyte simply because you don’t sweat out just water. The typical composition of human sweat is sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium. There are also traces of minerals that compose of zinc, copper, iron, chromium, nickel and lead. In order to keep your body’s electrolyte balance, you need to make sure whatever you are taking has more than just sodium and water.