Imagine turning up for a big running race and realising that you’ve forgotten your socks. Sure you can still run the race but your feet are likely to suffer, rubbing against your shoes and slowing you down. Even a small piece of equipment can make a difference when you’re playing sport and the same goes for each small nutrient you put into your body to allow it to work to its maximum potential. If you don’t ‘pack’ enough energy in your body before playing your sport, then you run the risk of running out of steam and not being able to finish the game or race, at least to the best of your ability. Just as you would make sure you had all your equipment ready – shoes, the right clothes, racquet, sticks, balls, goggles, whatever you need for that all important race or game; your body needs all its ‘equipment’ ready too.. There are so many things to consider with proper nutrition. Generally speaking, simply eating a good balanced diet is sufficient to keep our bodies healthy and functioning well. However, when playing sports, you are putting increased pressure on what you are expecting your bodies to do, so you must also put an increased focus on the nutrition you are providing to your body. Nutrition is as important as training in sport. When you train, you can focus on what you’re doing for that period of time – whether it’s one hour or several hours. Nutrition is ongoing, all day, every day. Not only is it important to make sure you get all the right nutrients – protein, carbohydrates, vitamins etc; those nutrients also complement each other and need each other to work properly. So for example your body needs iron to help transport oxygen through your body from your lungs to your muscles but what you eat with iron-rich foods can affect your body’s ability to absorb it. For example, vitamin C helps your body absorb iron, but calcium on the other hand inhibits the absorption of iron. Nor is it just about what you eat, but also when you eat it. Your body needs nourishment before a workout to make sure you are prepared and fuelled up ready to go. During a workout, your body is using up its reserves of, in particular, water and energy; then after a workout, you need to replenish your body to aid recovery and replace what your body has used up. As your skill and fitness level increases, so does the effect of good or poor nutrition on your performance. Think of top sports people who are using the latest technology in sportswear and equipment to gain that vital edge or vital seconds over their competitors. Equally, nutrition is part of the overall picture and something that can add or take away that edge. If your body does not have the right supply of nutrients, how can you expect it to function at its maximum potential? Your body is the most important piece of equipment you need for any sport. You need to take care of it and look after it as best you can by providing the right nutrition.