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KIWIS at the Top of

their Sporting Game

By Caryn Zinn, the Whole Food Dietitian

Today’s Tuesday blog puts the focus on our kiwi sporting success followed by some key sporting nutrition messages:

Firstly the ABs: What a cracker game last weekend, for those who don’t know, the All Blacks beat the Lions (30:15). 

Nutrition is a key element that contributes to optimal performance, it’s certainly not going to make you perform well if you don’t have the talent, and the training adaptations (and a bunch of other things), but it is still a key contributor to sporting success.

There are several different ways you can operate within a nutrition environment. When it comes to the ABs, we know that they have shifted over the last several years into a low sugar environment– no, not necessarily very low carb or keto, but certainly an environment that assumes an overall de-emphasis on sugar and an emphasis on good quality carbs, protein and healthy fat. We know this:

  • They are big users of coconut oil and other healthy fats.
  • They are big users of nut butters and put it in smoothies for their high energy needs.
  • They use nuts rather than lollies after the training / games.
  • Their dietitian and trainer are both supporters of the LCHF philosophy. This in itself is a win.
  • They are sponsored by Gatorade. Do they drink it? Perhaps some of the time; personally I’m not convinced that the sugar-laden drink is always what goes inside their bottles.

On your last performance, well done ABs.

Next up, Emirates Team New Zealand (America’s Cup sailing) – what a sterling effort to thrash Oracle 7:1 in this cut-throat sporting environment.

Nutrition-wise, okay I do happen to know these guys eat lollies – way more than I’d advise – so I’d say they’re not quite in a low sugar environment. BUT I do know they eat well, and they’re sponsored by S.O.S hydration drink which they use in training – this is a very low sugar sports-drink (1.2 g / 100g) so for every litre they drink, they only get 12g carbs as opposed to 60g for drinks such as Gatorade.

So it seems in one way or another, the message is getting through to high-end sport, which is great to see.

Bottom line for active individuals…

  • Carbohydrate is a good fuel source, but so is fat, the two need to be well-coordinated to ensure optimal sports performance.
  • Some activities i.e. those that involve high intensity efforts (i.e. typically a lot of elite sport) might require more carbohydrate – not enormous amounts more, just more. This is where experimentation is crucial.
  • Water is mostly what you need during training, but at times, a carbohydrate hit (during lengthy sessions) can help.
  • If you do need extra carbs, this can come from any source depending on the athlete’s goals and circumstances. I would advise a whole food approach where possible, but some times, especially at the elite level, the convenience of sports-drinks can trump others.
  • Low sugar drinks, like S.O.S and coconut water (straight or diluted) can be helpful for those looking to supplement a little, rather than a lot.
  • Just because you’re an elite athlete it doesn’t mean you need to take in loads of refined sugar, whole food options can do the trick just as well.

Finally, remember if you spend your life watching sport rather than doing it, chances are you never need to be in contact with high sugar beverages, ever.

Happy Tuesday!

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