Nutrition Introduction

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Nutrition and exercise are connected; successful sports performance at any level depends on meeting day-to-day nutritional needs. For example, maintaining sufficient fluid and energy stores delays the onset of fatigue and enables students to participate in sessions longer before tiring. Additionally, although the stress of exercise stimulates physiological improvement, adaptations to physical stress actually occur in the recovery period following the exercise sessions. Therefore, rehydrating, refuelling and rest are essential components of the recovery process for any student.

Although basic advice on nutrition is similar for all sports participants, there are some important differences in various sports. This section introduces the fundamentals of nutrition and healthy eating and their effect on performance.

It is important that you understand the following terms:

A balanced diet

Refers to the intake of appropriate types and adequate amounts of food and drink to supply nutrition and energy for the maintenance of body cells, tissues and organs, and to support normal growth and development.

Healthy eating

Is based on the nutritional needs of the individual and includes a wide variety of foods. For example, carbohydrates provide energy, protein is needed for growth and development and fats provide a concentrated source of energy.

Vitamins and minerals also play a key role in keeping our bodies healthy and free from diseases.

Sports nutrition

Refers to eating a healthy balanced diet that is specific to your sport. Students who are exercising regularly need a diet that will support their physiological needs. A student who is participating in six hours or more a week of taekwondo (or other physical activity) will need more food than one who is participating for two to four hours a week.

Insufficient energy and nutrient intakes may cause growth and maturation to be delayed. A student's diet should provide adequate energy and nutrients to support normal growth as well as the increased energy needs for participating in taekwondo sessions.

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