Sports Nutrition Live

Whilst I was helping out at the Leonard Cheshire Tri Together training day at Crystal Palace, Di was in central London getting to grips with nutrition.

Supplements, genes, leaky guts and Vitamin D!

The conference was held in central London and my intention was to go and learn some more about different approaches to nutrition for performance sport and see where that would take me.

Matt Lovell, a sports nutrionist with a strength and conditioning background discussed the use of supplements and ergogenic aids in sport. Matt has worked with England Rugby and premiership football teams such as Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspurs.

The main emphasis throughout the presentation was why do you need the supplement and when do you need to use them. The only way he felt he could work was by understanding the lifestyle of the individual and keeping nutrition simple. He explained that the best approach to adopt was to eat as close to nature as possible. He looked at when the individual needed to perform and what could enhance the preparation and the best time to add supplements and aids into the diet.

The combination of supplements was explored with explanation of what worked together and what worked against each other. In other words you need to understand why and what you are taking to see the benefit. The timing and duration of the effect was considered.

In assessing a performer Matt suggested the following screening;
• Omega 6 and 3 ratios
• Iron
• Red cell folate
• Vitamin D

Dr Ian Craig presented the topic of genetics and nutrition. Ian lectures on the subject of sport nutrition and works in the UK and South Africa. He is the editor of Functional Sports Nutrition and can be followed on twitter at @Craig Coaching.

He repeated the need for treating everyone as an individual with regard to diet and performance and emphasised the need to understand the lifestyle and environment the performer had. He explained that you cannot change your genes but the environment can influence the nutrition, exercise and lifestyle. As a nutritionist he had to understand how the performer lived in the past and present. He explained that for one person a food that increase energy could do the reverse for another.

Pete Williams has worked in the sport performance area but he now focuses upon performance with executives. He again repeated the message of treat everyone as an individual. If you understand,

Exercise + Nutrition = Healthy

He spends most of his time getting to know the person and learning about their history and lifestyle. Performers, whether in sport or business are similar as they are often type A personalities and the effect of stress on their body is similar. He discussed that the executives are currently using high intensity workouts when they are not ready for them, so getting limited results. The body need to respond gradually to the change and nutrition may assist this.

Pete discussed the importance of understanding the effect of stress on the GI tract as this acts as the gate keeper to what can and can’t enter the body. The stomach acid in the gut kills bacteria, helps start protein digestion and liberates vitamins and minerals from food. So it does not matter how good the food is going in, if the stomach acid is not working correctly, as you will not benefit.

As a general tip Pete suggested that the phyto nutrients you eat should have great variety in colour and be deep in colour for the greatest concentration and benefit.

You can follow Pete on twitter – @healthysausage.

The last presenter was Dr Adam Carey who has a background in medicine having trained as a doctor and worked in the NHS before deciding that was not the way he wanted to work and setting up his wellness business as Corperformance. He has worked with England Rugby, London 2012, Chelsea FC and celebrities such as Hugh Jackman and Angelina Jolie. He presented a discussion regarding Vitamin D.

Vitamin D has an impact upon areas such as bone strength, the immune system, inflammation and body composition. Vitamin D is important as it regulates over a 1000 gene functions in the body. Exposure to sunlight is how Vitamin can be absorbed naturally but it can be supplemented when required. Some people will be deficient in Vitamin D for reasons such as dark skin, seasonal variation in sunlight, training indoors or high body fat. In the UK Vitamin D is absorbed generally between May and September.

Deficiency in Vitamin D may be observed through fatigue, muscle weakness, joint and back pain, poor concentration, negative moods amongst others. Some of these symptoms could be mistaken for over training. So again you need to know if the performer is deficient by screening.

He has worked with a company to develop a test which anyone can do at home using a simple pin prick test and the analysis and results explain what you need to do with advice about your Vitamin D intake.

The link is and it costs £24. He generally tests athletes 3 times over a year.

So in summary; know your athlete, understand what you are putting in and why, screen early on and re-test and food in its simplest form is good. A great conference and a fantastic opportunity to network.

And I am now subscribing to Functional Sport Nutrition, which all four of the presenters write in. This month’s features an interview with Ali Brownlee…who obviously does not cook and gets a company to prepare all his food!

Oh and the lunch was provided and it was great!

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