This week, we highlight the impact of eating better to enhance both physical and mental performance…and your likeliness in achieving success.
Athletes place a large emphasis on nutrient timing, optimising macronutrient ratios and supplements, but often forget the true value of eating better.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a topic that sells headlines – ‘yeah Chris, we know that eating better is good for you, we’ve always known this’.
To emphasis this point, a 2020 study by Farina et al looked at the relationship between diet quality, physical performance and Special Forces selection.
The Special Forces Assessment & Selection (SFAS) is an arduous 19-20 day assessment course where candidate soldiers must complete extensive mental and physical challenges to be deemed successful; of which, failure rate is >50%.
During the SFAS, soldiers are restricted to their military rations, and therefore all foods are standardised and the same.
Therefore, the question is: does diet quality and improved nutrient status going into the assessment period improve success?
Of the 782 candidates tested, those with better eating habits and consumed greater higher quality foods were more successful than those who followed lower quality diets.
In this case, the soldiers consumed more vegetables, seafood, plant proteins and ate fewer refined carbohydrates.
Most likely, diet quality influenced performance prior to SFAS through supporting nutritional needs during training and recovery, facilitating ideal body composition changes and contributing to adequate micro and macronutrient status.
Therefore, diet quality in the preparation phase can influence the success of the physical test – whether that’s for Special Forces, an athlete preparing for the Olympic Games, or a rugby player getting ready for a World Cup.
When all things skill and tactics are equal, it appears that having better lifestyle and eating habits will improve your chances of success.
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