Throwing Nutrition & Sports Supplements for Athletes

throwing-nutrition-and-sports-supplements-for-athletesThe four recognised Olympic throwing events of track and field are javelin, discus, shot and hammer and they all rely primarily on the development of strength, explosive power and speed, so, if you take part in any of these disciplines it is essential that you consume sufficient carbohydrates and lots of protein to fuel your body sufficiently.

Moderate servings of meat, skinless chicken, eggs, reduced-fat dairy products, tofu and lentils should be included in your diet, while energy-dense foods such as pastries, cakes, chocolate, takeaways, fizzy drinks and alcohol should be consumed only sparingly, if at all.

Sandwiches, fresh fruit, yoghurt and reduced-fat milk drinks are ideal for before and after training sessions as they will help you maximise performances and aid the progress of post session-recovery.

Training for throwing events

So, how much training does a throw specialist have to do?

Elite throwers, those at the top level will train all year round… and this is not a bad idea for those competing at club level either.

Out of the competitive season when there are no main outdoor competitions then throwers should ideally concentrate on weight training to build up strength, along with some light aerobic sessions to maintain general fitness levels.

A good power-to-weight ratio is a critical success factor in throwing events… and it does also help if you have long levers… long arms and legs!

It is also a good time to refine your technique with a combination of sessions on the runway or in the circle, combined with some drill work to improve throwing technique and technical skills.

Then, as the competitive season approaches, place greater emphasis on achieving top quality, skill intensive throwing sessions while at the same time continuing your gym work, concentrating there on speed and explosive power development rather than general strength.

The importance of power to weight ratio

Sometimes it is asked whether physical body size is important to be a successful thrower.

Well, in the past it was thought that a large body mass was necessary to be successful, but the current trend is towards ensuring that, whatever the body mass, it is functional, because muscle, rather than fat, is able to generate the necessary speed across a circle or down a runway.

A good power-to-weight ratio is a critical success factor in throwing events… and it does also help if you have long levers… long arms and legs!

However, body fat levels are often dependent on total body size and some throwers may need to reduce those levels leading into competition to further increase the quality of their power-to-weight ratio.

If you fall into this category you should target excess kilojoules in your diet, reducing the intake of such things as sugary foods, drinks and alcohol; which will assist with fat loss without detracting from the nutritional value of your diet and muscle mass.

Throwing nutrition

Apart from the top international and national athletics field-events, most throwers will be competing at club level, but whatever the standard, the routine remains the same.

There is a usually a qualifying round, followed by a final involving the top eight, who have six more throws to decide the winner.

To optimise your performances it is therefore essential that you prepare yourself in the best possible way, and this includes nutrition.

When preparing for a throwing competition you should carry on following a meal plan very similar to the one outlined above, although reducing your total energy consumption may be necessary, because an athletes energy needs are not as great as the volume of training decreases immediately prior to an event.

On the day of the competition the main thing is to feel comfortable in yourself, so avoid eating too much, while at the same time making sure that you do not feel hungry.

Once again it is a fine balance that you need to get right and this comes with experience – some trial and error maybe necessary.

It is also beneficial if the food you eat is something you genuinely enjoy, thus putting you in the right, positive frame of mind.

As far as the meal itself is concerned, it will often depend not only on such personal preferences, but also on the event timing (morning, afternoon, evening or sometimes late evening)… so here are a meal and snack ideas to get you started:

Foods suitable for three to four hours prior to the event:

crumpets with honey or jam and a drink of flavoured milk; a bread roll with either cheese or meat filling, followed by a banana; cereal with milk; baked beans with toast; baked potato with a cottage cheese filling, accompanied by a glass of milk; crumpets with honey or jam, washed down with flavoured milk; or fruit salad with a reduced-fat yoghurt.

As you can see there is a decent variety, but not so much choice when it comes to appropriate food and drink for only one or two hours before you take part in an event.

You should then restrict yourself to fruit, reduced-fat yoghurt, a milk shake or smooth fruit drink; or a liquid meal supplement.

Always bear in mind that these types of foods might not be stocked at the competition venue, so always take along your own supplies – just in case.

A couple of other tips for competitive throwers:

  • Tried & Tested

    It is good sometimes to experiment with new nutrition ideas, but do so only in training… always make sure that your competition day routine is tried and tested to avoid any unwanted suprises.

  • Stay Hydrated

    It probably goes without saying that you need to remain suitably hydrated to perform at your best, but you do need to take extra care in drinking sufficient fluid if competing in a hot climate.

Hydration for throw specialists

As an athlete optimum hydration is essential if you are to both train and compete effectively.

Specially formulated sports drinks are ideal, not only do they help to maintain correct levels of hydration; they also contain carbohydrate to assist with the replacement of vital energy stores, and small amounts of electrolytes (salts) to replace what has been lost during training or competition.

When training or competing in hot conditions, extra attention needs to be given in this area, with refreshing fluids, as cool as possible, on hand to drink at every opportunity.

As dehydration adversely affects physical ability, form and decision-making function, it goes without saying that it has to be avoided at all costs.

Following a competition or intense training session athlete fluid losses should always be carefully assessed – weighing before and after will give a good indication of the amount of fluid loss, and is considered the best method – the lost fluids should ideally be replaced as quickly as possible.

The recovery phase

After competition or training has been completed, it is always advisable for throwers to follow the correct recovery procedure as, in many instances; this stage is just as important as the initial preparation stages, especially during periods of intensive training or competition.

There are three golden rules to a throwers successful rehabilitation; and we refer to them as the three R’s:

  • Refuel

    Refuel muscle glycogen (carbohydrate stores).

  • Repair

    Repair muscle tissue (for maintenance and development).

  • Rehydrate

    Rehydrate to replace fluids and salts lost through sweat.

Therefore your ideal recovery meals and snacks must contain carbohydrate (for fuel replacement), some protein (for muscle repair and/or gains) and plenty of fluids to replace sweat losses.

Want to get involved throwing?

If you’re not currently involved in one of the four throwing events of discus, hammer, javelin and shot and are keen to learn more about taking part then read on. Here we’ve brought together a number of useful links to athletics organisations that may be able to help you.

  • UK Athletics

    UK Athletics is the national governing body for the sport of athletics in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Athletics is the nation’s favourite Olympic and Paralympic sport. It is responsible for developing and implementing the rules and regulations of the sport, including everything from anti-doping, health and safety, facilities and welfare, to training and education for coaches and officials and permitting and licensing.

  • England Athletics

    England Athletics develops grass roots athletics in England, supporting affiliated clubs to prosper, developing more and better coaches, recruiting and supporting volunteers and officials. England Athletics provides and supports competition opportunities at an international (England representative), national, area and county level.

  • Throwing (Track & Field Athletics) in Wikipedia

    Track and field is a sport which combines various athletic contests based on the skills of running, jumping, and throwing. Regular throwing events include shot put, javelin, discus and hammer…

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