Nutrition is the process of eating and converting food into structural and functional body compounds like muscle, skin and hair. It is required for growth, maintenance of bodily functions, repairs of tissues, performance and health. Different parts of the body need special nutrients to function efficiently i.e. the nervous system require different nutrition than muscles.


Non-essential doesn’t mean unimportant “essential” in nutritional terms refers to a nutrient that the body cannot make as all or in sufficient amounts for good health.

There are 40 known nutrients that fit into this category e.g. glucose (from carbohydrate) certain amino acids (from protein) certain fatty acids (linolenic acid) 13 vitamins and 17 minerals.


Non- essential can be a very misleading term which includes all other nutrients which are considered not essential. When nutrition is required for maximum performance ‘non essential’ becomes as important as ‘essential’. For e.g. eating full profile protein that has both essential and non essential amino acids thus striking a balance between non essential and essential is important for maximum performance.


A balanced diet consists of the following food groups:

  1. Fruit and vegetables
  2. Meat, poultry, fish
  3. Dairy
  4. Breads and cereals


Nutrition especially sports nutrition is a quantitative science. While the non- athlete may survive day to day by following general guidelines. The athlete needs a more sophisticated and precise approach to nutrition to achieve performance excellence. E.g. a female swimmer of 150 pounds will eat differently than a 250 pounds shot putter.


Essential nutrients can be categorized into:

  1. Essential nutrition for survival
  2. essential nutrition for optimum health
  3. essential nutrition for maximum performance




These recommendations are established by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Science. They are a general guide for all normal, healthy sedentary individuals, and there is no compulsion to follow these guidelines as they are not the minimums. As long as the diet includes foods from all groups depending on the required needs of the individual, the individual can maintain a healthy intake of most nutrients.





The chemical processes that occur within the body, enabling it to survive, grow and reproduce. Metabolism is the very basis of life.




The two components of metabolism are:-




Breaking down of carbohydrates, fats, proteins and a number of waste products (e.g. dead cells and tissues) for energy. The energy released is converted into work by muscle activity, and some is lost as heat. It means destruction.




Constructive processes by which foods are adapted by the body and stored as energy, or used for the purpose of growth, reproduction and as defense against infection and disease. There must be both components present for survival and every individual should aim to reach an anabolic state and reduce the catabolic state in the body.


List of a few essential nutrients



As a source of glucose




As a source of linoleic acid and linolenic acid



As a source of “essential amino acids”

Histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine plus cystine, phenylalanine, tyrosine, threonine, tryptophan, valine



Calcium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium, sulfur, iron, iodide, magnesium, chloride, zinc, copper, selenium, chromium, molybdenum



Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Thiamin(B1), Riboflavin(B2), Niacin(B3), Pyridoxine(B6), Cobalamin(B12), Ascorbic Acid(C), Folic Acid, Biotin, Pantothenic Acid(B6), Choline, Inositol



Everyday the body requires many nutrients for energy, growth and performance. Over the year’s scientists, nutritionists and health professionals developed special terminology to categorize and represent many nutritional concepts. There are several categories of nutrition that need to be included  in order to increase athletic performance. Most of the nutrients are divided into two main categories: macro nutrients and micro nutrients.


Macro nutrients: these are needed to meet energy and growth requirements. Required in large amounts and are thought of in quantities in ounces and grams. They include carbohydrates, proteins, lipids and water. Macro nutrients are important for providing the body with a supply of energy and serving as the building blocks it needs for growth and repair. Found in foods and variable in proportion e.g. meats are high in protein and fat and almost zero carbohydrates pasta on the other hand is high in carbohydrates with moderate amount of protein and a low content of fat.


Carbohydrates and lipids (fats) are macronutrients primarily used by the body for energy. A balance has to be struck for the energy expenditure and maintaining desired body composition and performance. This may vary with age, activity and food eaten. Daily energy requirement can range from as low as 1200 to over 6000 calories per day.

































  Thus fat has higher calories then alcohol, carbohydrates and proteins. In recent years, scientists have determined that the energy content of different macronutrients may vary slightly in the body depending upon the relative proportions of the other macro nutrients present in the diet, the type of macronutrient, the presence of vitamin and mineral cofactors, the level of hydration, and the physical conditioning of the body. For example, protein is considered a protected nutrient because the body reserves its use for the synthesis of tissues and molecules instead of energy use. Therefore, the body has a tendency to use its fat and glycogen supply for energy instead of using ingested protein and the protein that makes up muscle tissue. In fact, a thermogenic effect has been detected in response to eating diets high in protein, indicating that more energy is used in the metabolism of proteins.


There are several types of carbohydrates that will affect your energy and performance depending on when you eat them and what kind you eat. There are complex carbohydrates (starches) and simple ones like glucose and fructose. Starch (which is made up of glucose chains) provides the body with a slow and steady supply of glucose. Glucose gets into the bloodstream fast and provides a quick supply of energy. Fructose gets into the bloodstream at a rate between complex carbohydrates and glucose.


Lipids include fats and other plant and animal nutrients that are insoluble in water. The fatty acids that make up fat (triglyceride) contain the highest energy of any macronutrient on a per weight basis. Other lipids, like cholesterol are not important energy sources, but are major components of steroid hormones and bile acids. Your body is always using a mixture of carbohydrate and fat for energy, plus a little protein. This energy mixture will vary depending upon the intensity and duration of physical activity and the food composition eaten. Endurance sports tend to cause the body to burn a higher proportion of fat. Compare this to power sports, like sprinting, which burn a greater amount of carbohydrates for energy. Thus, physical demand, a marathon runner will generally need a diet high in carbohydrates and moderate in fat and protein. On the other hand, the power lifter needs a diet high in carbohydrates and proteins, with low amounts of fat.