2020 is underway and with that comes a renewed sense of vigour and enthusiasm. Goals are set, race plans are made, and many resolutions include improved nutrition and body composition. January is the perfect time to reflect on the 2019 lessons learnt in nutrition, so we can take what works as we move into the new year. Here are the top trends we saw in nutrition for 2019…
1. Plant-Based: Have you seen the Game Changers…? This was an extremely common question in 2019! The documentary shed a positive light on the physical benefits of a plant-based diet and has encourage many athletes to increase their veggie intake, which can only be a good thing. This trend is also driving the increased availability of plant-based food options in supermarkets and restaurants.
2. Carbohydrates as Fuel: The record breaking Ineos Challenge this year saw Eliud Kipchoge break 2 hours for the marathon… entirely fuelled by carbohydrates. Science shows us that race winning moves occur at high intensity, and this level of intensity relies on carbohydrates being readily available. Fat can be a valuable source of fuel for lower intensity exercise.
3. Food and Mood Study: a new study from Macquarie University looked specifically at the effect of a healthy Mediterranean diet on the mental health of young adults, with extremely positive results. By the end of the three weeks, participants had significantly fewer symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress levels, and they were able to maintain the dietary changes. The takeaway? It’s possible that you are only three weeks away from a significant shift in mental health just through improving your diet.
4. Natural Megatrend: We know Australians are becoming more health conscious and are increasingly aware of the importance of sport and fitness to their health and wellbeing. Consumers are seeking to enhance their performance and their physical efficiency, at the same time as getting health benefits from their products. This is resulting in a huge drive for natural, local and clean nutrition products with proven performance and nutrition benefits.
5. Digestive Wellness: Athletes are looking to avoid bloating, gut discomfort and to maximise the digestion of their food and nutrition. A healthy gut is vital for this, so there a strong trend towards pre-biotic foods, fibre and fermented foods and supplements that can encourage and support a healthy gut biome.
6. Protein (it’s in): While athletes are avoiding sugars and are looking to support lean muscle mass, protein is the ideal nutrient to fill this need. Plant-based proteins are more popular than ever as athletes look to avoid dairy and to minimise inflammation. The recovery process after exercise is not as time dependant as previously thought, but it is vital to get a good quality serve of protein in after training, either from your food or a supplement.
7. Sugar (it’s out): There really is not a lot good to say about sugar – and by this we mean added or hidden sugars in foods. The recommendation is to keep sugar under 10% of your intake, so for an adult eating about 2000 calories per day this means less than 50g. Bear in mind that a can of soft drink can have 40g of sugar, or a small tub of fruit yoghurt can contain 20g!
8. Fat is Back: For a long time, fat was the nutritional enemy… however we know that fat can improve the taste of foods, and also gives the feeling of satiety. The type of fat really does matter, more so than the amount you are eating… however it’s always possible to have too much of a good thing. The body can make all but two essential fatty acids, which must be supplied by the diet. Athletes are increasingly looking to supplement their diet with avocado, nuts, seeds, olive oil and oily fish or supplements.
9. Snackification: Mealtimes are becoming increasingly fragmented and our busy lifestyles are requiring more ‘on the go’ foods. But as the health megatrend continues, so too does the offering of healthier snacks such as low sugar, higher protein, and plant-based options in convenient and nutritious forms. Yay to this we say!
10. Drugs in Sport: 2019 has seen some high-profile athletes face doping sanctions and their supplement contamination is often touted as the cause. Importantly, athletes must be informed and aware and be entirely responsible for what goes into their own body. Bear in mind that everything you ingest (whether it is food, drink, a medication or a supplement) has the potential for contamination. ASADA also recommends athletes avoid supplements made in China, India or the USA, and particularly pre-workout, weight-loss and muscle-building products, as they can be at higher risk of contamination with a prohibited substance.
It’s an exciting time to be working in nutrition, and particularly in the natural nutrition industry. There is a huge focus on clean and natural performance products, and at BINDI we are so happy to be leading the charge to fuel healthy athletes. The trends towards more healthy and natural products is giving more flexibility around our active and busy lifestyles.
So, let’s take the opportunity to improve our nutrition this year with more knowledge and options than we’ve ever had available, and have a wonderful, healthy 2020!