I spoke with Nutritionist, Naturopath and Chiropractor Dr Damian Kristof to discuss nutrition and hydration for athletes! Damian’s in depth knowledge of the body, nervous system, food functions and responses has been invaluable to me over the years and I admire his passion for health and wellness. Damian’s company Forage has been a huge part of my journey as it is the breakfast cereal I choose to have at the start of every single day. I am regularly asked what food I eat as an athlete so I thought Id share some tips from one of the best in the business!
What is your involvement in the health industry and how did it all begin?
I’ve been in the health industry for 21 years as a naturopath, nutritionist and chiropractor. I have helped elite athletes at commonwealth games, Olympics and world championship levels in sports including triathlon, iron man triathlon, hockey, swimming, soccer, Aussie rules and more.
What does health and wellness mean to you?
Wellness is a state of happiness derived from a combination of controllable factors around nutrition, mindset and movement. Health is the overall objective of wellness. Wellness being the lifestyle that you lead to achieve your desired health.
Why did you start Forage?
I began Forage to help people access a healthy breakfast option, other than eggs and smoothies. Even to this day, nearly 10 years on from when I started making healthy muesli’s, there is still no other product than matches what we make in terms of nutritional benefit and uniqueness. I am inspired to see and hear that people are living well. Forage is part of that inspiration.
What are the key messages around food that you try to reinforce with your kids?
I give Jackson the choice to eat foods that are healthy for him and allow him the flexibility to consume foods that are absolutely not healthy… the more bad food he eats, the better my message is reinforced. Poor food affects skin, energy and wellbeing… as a young man, Jackson has been exposed to what it feels like to be healthy and what it feels like to be unhealthy… my hope is that he will choose health over the alternative as he grows older.
What is your advice on drinks for young athletes (water, sports drinks, electrolytes)
Water and fruit is crucial to deliver appropriate nutrition to the body during events and post event recovery. Electrolyte replacement drinks, whilst they may have a place, are definitely NOT my first recommendation. Its interesting that Watermelon contains electrolytes and water and sugar that assists the body to rehydrate post event… its 100% natural, tastes good and is good.
How much influence would you say food has on performance in sport?
Food is one of the most significant influencers on performance output long term, beyond what is genetically possible. Its true that the body requires calories to burns and certain calories for repair, however, poor quality food or nutrient poor food that are highly processed will lead to inflammation and poor repair and recovery, limiting an athletes ability to perform at a high level over time. Often once the damage has occurred, its really hard to repair it. Athletes however have a unique ability to get better healing by making changes earlier.
What advice would you give busy parents of young athletes?
Hydrate properly is key. Ensure that proper protein, fat and carbohydrates are consumed with all meals and snacks, so that at every opportunity, correct nutrition is available to the body to be able to perform and repair.