In this first section of the sport edition of Thrive Forward, I’m going to give you an overview of how you can use plant-based clean eating to boost your athletic performance. It’s going to build on what you learned on Clean Eating 101 in the first section to make you a better athlete. There are three components to sports nutrition that it’s helpful to be aware of. One is timing: what you’ve had before, during, and after a workout. Two is fueling. I cover that in Clean Eating 101. The third, in my opinion, is most important: what you have after a workout. This is going to determine how quickly you recover. The more quickly you recover, the sooner you can train again and the quicker you improve, and that’s the key to being a better athlete. High return exercise. High return exercise is something I write about extensively in Thrive Fitness. The idea is that you spend the least amount of time, effort and energy to get the greatest fitness return. Another one: high net-gain nutrition. That means choosing foods that take less energy to digest, but return more nutrients. Also, sleep. Efficient sleep. This is essential, because sleep is not all the same. You want deep delta phase sleep. That’s when your body regenerates and repairs, and that’s what you got to go for. Uncomplementary stress reduction. That’s another big one. You can remove uncomplementary stress with good nutrition, which doesn’t make you any less productive. It just takes away the stress that adds no value to your life and only causes problems. There are several key differences in how you approach sports nutrition based on your goals. If you’re training for endurance, it’s going to be much different than if you’re training for strength. So determining what your goals are is going to dictate how your sports nutrition program comes together. If you’re most concerned with frequency of workout, your focus is going to be on post-workout recovery. If it’s intensity that you’re focusing on, pre-workout fueling and hydration is key. If it’s duration of the workout, your focus will be on mid-workout fueling and hydration. Your sports nutrition program is going to be dictated by your athletic goals. What you have before, during, and after a workout, and the amounts and the timing of that, is going to be dictated by what it is you’re trying to achieve athletically. We’ll go into the details of how in the endurance chapter. For strength sports, such as football, power lifting, and body building, there are three considerations. Are you trying to build muscle and get stronger? Or are you trying to lean out, just maintain the muscle you’ve got and lose the fat? Or maintenance. Are you just trying to maintain what you already have? What you choose of those three is going to determine your nutrition program. Benefits of physical fitness go far beyond sports performance. They can flow over into life. Fitness capital is something I write about in my book called Thrive Fitness. That just basically means the acquired fitness that you’ve created from training that then can be used to achieve whatever it is you want in life. To expand on what you’ve just learned about sports nutrition and how to support your performance, check out the supplemental material on this page.