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Home / News / Eat like an athlete
19 March 2015


Written by Monique dos Santos, Registered dietician and nutrition consultant, on behalf of Enervit Sports

As the age-old saying goes, “You are what you eat.” Nowhere is this truer than in the case of endurance performance. To optimise performance is to optimise nutrition, a concept that more and more athletes are starting to appreciate, explore and incorporate as part of their training programme.

Athletes are guided towards focusing on nutrition in three individual phases; before, during and after competition, as well as supplying the body with optimal nutrients at each of these times. This can be done through the use of natural, whole foods or with scientifically designed, high-quality endurance supplements.



For endurance athletes, carbohydrates are the body’s primary energy source to fuel the muscles (and brain, too). Before an endurance event, athletes are encouraged to include slow release or low GI carbohydrate-rich foods in their diet, to increase muscle stores of glycogen.

If you are looking for natural foods, the humble sweet potato is rich in slow-release carbohydrates and has become a firm staple in the athlete’s diet, with small quantities providing a sustained released of energy before a competitive event. It is best if sweet potatoes are boiled with their skin on versus baked, to maintain the optimal low GI-nature of the vegetable.

If you are looking for a supplement, look for one that has been specifically designed for your body’s nutritional needs before sporting activity (versus during). An example of such a supplement is Enervit Pre Sport, which has been scientifically designed to provide optimal energy requirements in a slow-release format, which promotes fat oxidisation during endurance exercise. 



Studies show that during prolonged exercise it is important to take in carbohydrates to provide energy, to support performance, decrease the perception of muscle fatigue and reduce the risk of energy (glycogen) depletion. It is also very important to ensure the body is properly hydrated, by taking in water and electrolytes in the right concentration. Combining energy (carbohydrates), fluid and electrolytes (sodium, chloride and potassium) in a convenient format is therefore key for the athlete to replenish losses that water alone cannot provide.

Orange juice containing fluid, carbohydrates (fructose) and some electrolytes (potassium) has been flaunted as a potential sports drink for endurance athletes. However, research has shown that sports drinks containing two or more types of carbohydrates in combination can enhance fluid delivery better than a sports drink containing a single carbohydrate source. Furthermore, electrolytes such as sodium, chloride and potassium improve gut absorption of the carbohydrate. Enervit G Sport contains these electrolytes as well as a mix of multiple carbohydrate sources from fructose, glucose and maltodextrins at the recommended concentration (4 – 8%), where fluid absorption is maximised.



To recover effectively, it is essential to take in carbohydrates, to restore energy, and protein, to repair muscle damage. Dairy remains one of the most ideal recovery foods for athletes, offering the perfect combination of carbohydrates and protein. When carbohydrates and proteins are consumed together, muscle tissues are repaired at a faster rate than if consumed separately.

Milk, and chocolate milk in particular, remains a firm favourite among endurance athletes. Milk is an ideal food for sport, supplying the perfect combination of high-quality protein for muscle repair, carbohydrates (lactose) for replenishing of glycogen stores and electrolytes and fluid to replace natural losses in sweat. Milk is also high in branch chain amino acids.

In addition to containing the optimal mix of protein and carbohydrates for quick recovery, Enervit’s R2 Sport Recovery drink is an ideal source of antioxidants and vitamin E containing 133%* of the adult’s vitamin E recommended dietary intake (DRI), which can help to  strengthen your body’s own antioxidant defences after training or competing.  * Per 100 g of product.

Whole foods such as sweet potato, orange juice and milk are nutrition powerhouses that athletes are encouraged to consume regularly, in combination with endurance sports supplements, for a diet that supports training and recovery.


More information

Enervit Sports offers a complete line-up of endurance sports nutritional supplements, providing specific products for every step of an athlete's performance strategy: before - to increase the availability of energy; during - to combat fatigue; and after - for a quick and optimal recovery. For more information, visit


About Enervit’s Sports range

Enervit Pre Sport is one of the first scientifically designed low GI foods that gives you just the right boost of energy before training or competitions. As it is fat free, this carbohydrate-rich food is easily absorbed for no digestive issues. Isomaltulose (a source of glucose and fructose) makes up 30% of the product’s total sugar content. Eating foods containing isomaltulose instead of other sugars raises blood glucose levels more slowly than other foods containing sugar. Energy is released gradually and sustained performance is guaranteed. The 45 g serving is a delicious, easy-to-eat, orange flavoured jelly.

Enervit G Sport Drink contains carbohydrates (mostly fructose), mineral salts (to guarantee effective cramp prevention) and vitamins. The carbohydrates and electrolytes in this drink help maintain endurance performance levels during prolonged exercise and increase water absorption. Available in tasty orange and lemon flavours for the RSP of R249.95 per 420 g tin (14 servings per tin) and in handy 300 g (RSP R174.95) and 15 g (RSP R9,95) sachets.

Enervit R2 Sport is an energy supplement for rapid recovery after training or competitions and should be taken within 30 minutes after exercising. It is the first step towards your next challenge. The product contains maltodextrin and dextrose (fast absorbing carbohydrates) to replenish glycogen levels and branched amino acids (leucine) to repair muscles. R2 Sport provides a substantial amount of glutamine to combat fatigue and contains vitamin C and E, which assists muscle recovery after training. RSP is R54.95 per 50 g sachet and R419.95 per 400 g tin (8 servings per tin).


The full range of Enervit Sports products is available nationwide at selected Dis-Chem pharmacies, selected specialist sports stores, in selected Clicks stores from March 2015 or can be purchased online via www.enervitsport.com/za.


About the author

Monique dos Santos is a registered dietitian with a background in corporate wellness and sports nutrition. She holds a BSc degree in Human Physiology and Biochemistry (Wits), BDietetics degree (Honours) (UP), and is currently completing a Masters degree in Dietetics in Sports Nutrition. Guided by evidence-based nutrition, Monique believes in an integrated approach to wellness where the key to being healthy is to adopt small, yet sustainable changes to your lifestyle.

Monique is registered with ADSA (Association of Dietetics of South Africa) and the HPCSA (Health Professionals Council of South Africa). She is also a Discovery Wellness Network dietitian and DNAlysis accredited practitioner.


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