The Importance Of Nutrition For Adaptations To Training
Shaun - Football Nutrition Coach - Matchfit Conditioning
One of the most important concepts that you should be aware of is that training does not inherently cause improvements to your physical capabilities or performances on the pitch.
This is by means a concept that diminishes the fundamental importance of training, but instead one that emphasizes that there is more to the puzzle than you may realise.
Correct training gives the “potential” for physiological systems (cardiovascular, nervous, and musculoskeletal) to undergo specific adaptations that increase your bodies physical capabilities.
As you are probably aware, training sessions themselves are actually physically detrimental when considering the large mechanical stress they place on the body.
However, athletes are of course fine with this reality when understanding that the acute physical detriment forces the body to rebuild, adapt, and hopefully make them a better version of their prior self.
Provided the mechanical stress from training is sufficient, this stress will produce various signals that alters the expression and activity of your genes to give the intended result of that training session (improved speed or strength, for example).
This all stems back to basic biology where your genes are fully responsible for the amount and activity of every single protein and cell that is made within your body.
Although you may not know it, when you train you are communicating with your genes and demanding a certain response.
For example, as endurance capacity is mainly determined by the amount of energy-producing mitochondria within your muscle cells, when you engage in strenuous endurance activity you are interacting with your genes to stimulate the production of mitochondrial proteins.
Alternatively, when you engage in resistance training to try and increase muscle mass, you are interacting with your genes to stimulate the production of multiple proteins which constitute muscle fibers.
Further, the type of training you engage in influences the type of muscle fibers that can be formed (type 1 or type 2) because the proteins that the genes produce will vary based off the different training signals.
But What Does This Have to Do with Nutrition?!
In a simple sense, training is the lock and nutrition is the key.
For training adaptations to occur, and for your genes to produce the proteins which you require to improve, you need the signal and you need the fuel.
This follows on from the previous train of thought, as your genes need the signal to know which proteins to produce, and the energy and amino acids to actually be able to make these proteins.
And where do we get energy and amino acids from? You guessed it - the calories and dietary protein stored in food!
This concept explains why eating enough calories and protein is essential for training adaptations to occur.
If you under eating, you are not providing your genes with the substrates needed to produce the proteins that your training has signaled to be made. This ultimately causes your physical framework to remain stagnant and you will not improve.
On the other hand, providing your body with the right amount of calories and protein will ensure training signals are taken advantage of.
Not to mention that other nutritional approaches can even influence the type and strength of the signals that are induced by training sessions – but this is outside of scope of this articles discussion.
But at least now when you hear that nutrition is essential to support your training, hopefully this information should give you a better understanding as to why this is the case.
- Miyamoto-Mikami E, et al. 2018. Gene expression profile of muscle adaptation to high-intensity intermittent exercise training in young men. Scientific Reports.
- Hargreaves M, et al. 2002. Exercise, diet, and skeletal muscle gene expression. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.
- Booth FW, et al. 2002. Exercise and gene expression: physiological regulation of the human genome through physical activity. Journal of Physiology.