Sports Nutrition 101 – The pages Part 2
Protein is often a key focus in a sports nutrition programme – because it’s so important for growth and repair of muscle. But amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, play many different roles in the body and in this second part of our two-part article we’re going to look at how they impact training in other ways. This includes their role in detoxification – making sure your liver is functioning effectively, and neurotransmitter and hormone production, which can impact how hard you can work in training sessions.
Attitude is fundamental to successful training, you need to feel fired up and ready to give it 100%. Neurotransmitters and hormones like adrenaline and testosterone can impact how you feel before and during training through a number of different mechanisms of action. For example, adrenaline will increase blood sugar levels, induce fat burning, increase mental alertness and increase peripheral and muscular blood flow. And you know you can train harder when you’re feeling full of energy and alert.
Your body needs an amino acid called tyrosine to make adrenaline. If you’ve been very stressed or training particularly hard you may have an increased requirement for tyrosine. You’ll find this amino acid in foods like almonds and pumpkin and sunflower seeds (found in the healthy snacks delivered in the Nutribox) and also in meats, fish and dairy products.
The objective of training is to maximise physiological adaptation – you want to improve your cardiovascular capacity, muscle strength and endurance. Adrenaline is one of the chemicals that helps you do that, and so is the hormone testosterone (our own natural anabolic steroid). But what happens to all these neurotransmitters and hormones your body’s producing and using in training? This is where the liver and detoxification pathways are particularly important.
Your body is exposed to a range of different chemicals, waste products and toxins every day. Your liver does the important job of getting rid of all the things your body doesn’t need or want. It does this via a number of different pathways – these take the offending chemical and make some changes to it so it becomes water soluble and can make its way out of your body via urine or bile (which ultimately ends up in faeces). These pathways can only function if they have the right raw materials to work with, and amino acids such as glutamine, glycine, taurine and methionine are some of the most important. If you don’t detoxify well you can end up feeling fatigued, with muscle pain, and your body won’t be able to function and train at optimal levels.