Olympic Bites 10th August 2012

Olympic Bites – 10th Aug 2012

Sleep deprivation… Anticipation… Elation… Pride…

We have felt all of these emotions as we’ve watched our Olympians face their biggest challenge against the world’s best. It has been a pleasure to watch our athletes put their nutrition plans into action and get the best results for themselves, whether that is a medal, a PB or simply relishing in their achievement in qualifying for the Games. We personally get a greatest sense of pride and achievement knowing the athletes that we have personally worked with have done everything to ensure a top performance and can look back on their experience at the Games without regret, knowing that there was no stone left unturned so-to-speak. And while the whole of Australia went into these Games with high expectations of our athletes, we now reflect and concede that the rest of the world has inevitably caught up with Australian advances in sports performance science and technology, with sports nutrition ‘intelligence’ no exception. We say this knowing that some of Australia’s top sports dietitians and sports scientists are a prized commodity internationally, with our members landing jobs at national sporting institutes and clubs including the English Institute of Sport, the US Ski Team, Chelsea and Manchester United Football Clubs… well, you get the picture.

From a sports nutrition perspective, it has been interesting to observe the practices of competing athletes and the comments from the experts in the commentary box. We heard Phil Liggett mention during the men’s road race on Day 1 that Michael Rogers preferred to consume his carbohydrate fuel in the form of gels and sports drinks, rather than solid food. This is where the elite come into their own – they know their fuel targets and know their body well enough to work out what works for them in the heat of a race. It is also the result of the support team in the background, including sports dietitians that helped to establish his race nutrition plan.

We heard Robert De Castella explain to Eddie Maguire in the women’s marathon that while the ambient temperature was relatively cool (16°C from memory) the humidity was high, resulting in a less efficient sweat mechanism and inevitably a higher sweat rate. Hydration was a critical component in this event, even if that meant passing a drink bottle across to your fellow countryman as we saw the Kenyan women do!

We watched the men’s triathlon event and heard Greg Welch discuss the contents of the athlete’s drink bottles, describing it as “premium fuel” for the best performance. If you would like more information on hydration and which type of fluid is best, our resources on fluids in sport should get you started! But don’t be scared to take it to the next level – if you think you know a thing or two about hydration, why not find out your individual sweat rate and sodium loss? Hydration testing is now available to all athletes of any level. Contact your local sports dietitian to find out if you can access this service and take your race-day plan to a new level!

On another relevant issue, several athletes have been disqualified from competing in London as a result of a positive drug test. LOCOG has carried out an unprecedented number of tests to ensure that medals are won fairly to protect the rights of all competing and uphold the integrity of the Games. Sadly, some athletes will have knowingly taken a banned substance as a performance enhancer. But perhaps more sadly is considering that some of these athletes may have inadvertently ingested a banned substance which may have been avoided with the advice from an Accredited Sports Dietitian – in other words, an expert in sports nutrition supplements and what ingredients are on the WADA list of banned substances. The bottom line? Be supplement-savvy and find your local expert to ensure your clean participation in sport.

Hungry for more? We have limited places remaining for our Nutrition for Exercise & Sport courses in Brisbane, Perth, Canberra and Darwin. It's a 1-day course designed to bring you up-to-speed on the latest sports and nutrition science and focuses on the key types of clients likely to walk through a gym or fitness club, no matter what their sports or fitness goals may be. To find out more or to register, click here

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