The activities of athletes take a toll on the body, much more than other professions. When you are exercising hard for more than 90 minutes, which is usually the case for many professional athletes, the dietary needs of the body will definitely change – to accommodate for quicker recovery times and peak performance.
Many people know in depth the relationship between good nutrition and optimum health, but the effects of nutrition on the performance of athletes is a science that is continuously in study.
The Requirements of the Athlete’s Body
A basic diet requirement should be enough to give enough nutrients and energy that is enough for exercising. It should also increase the process of recovery in between your training sessions, while helping the person to get correct body fat and body weight levels for optimum performance (depending on the sport they are participating in).
In short, the diet must be able to maintain both the short and long-term health of the athlete by including a wide variety of foods, fruits and water – for purposes of hydration.
The Diet Itself
If you are an athlete, the diet you follow should be similar to that of the general public. The only difference comes in the amounts of individual nutrients you consume, as this will be tailored according to the sport you participate in, your body weight, as well as your gender.
The energy intake levels are divided into less than 30% fat, more than 55% carbohydrates, and 12-15% protein. If your exercise activity is very strenuous and lasts more than 90 minutes daily, you might require more amounts of carbohydrates – almost 65 to 70%.
In the digestive system, carbohydrates are broken down into glucose (sugar) that the body uses as the main source of energy. The body converts excess amounts into glycogen and stores that in the body tissue, including the muscles – and this is what the body will use when you embark on exercise activities.
It is important to consume high amounts of carbohydrates, because you do not want to make your body use protein stores – muscles – for energy. Your ability and strength to exercise will be compromised when you do not consume enough food, since the body will begin to break down muscles to meet its energy needs. That is bad news for your health – the risk of illnesses and infections increases.
Unrefined, whole grains should form the basic carbohydrate intake for your diet, while refined carbohydrate foods will help the body enhance its total intake of carbohydrates especially if you are very active.
the amount of carbohydrates you consume daily should be informed by your body weight, and it is therefore important to have a nutritionist or doctor on standby to consult with them, similar to how Recovery Village.com MT handles the recovery of addicts.
Examples of good foods you can take before and after exercise sessions include breakfast bars that are low in fat, fruit salads and yogurt, as well as toasted bread or muffins.
Protein intake is essential for the repair of your muscles, as well as improving the rates of recovery. The good news is you can get sufficient levels of protein when you consume a high carbohydrate diet, particularly cereal-based foods.
The amounts that are recommended are slightly higher than that of the general populace, with the highest amounts being for athletes participating in endurance events and strength training – mostly because they exercise for more than an hour.
For the case of protein intake, you do not need protein supplements most of the time. In addition, you do not want to overburden your kidneys while neglecting other important foods that should be in your diet.
One of the best protein sources in your diet should be milk, because it gives the body a good balance of carbohydrates and protein. In fact, the protein milk contains (whey protein) tends to be absorbed quickly by the body, which means the body undergoes faster recovery after an injury or exercise session.
For athletes, the best option is to ease up on the intake of fats. In any case, plant sources of fats should be sufficient, such as olive oil, avocados, nuts, vegetable oil and fish. If you consume fatty food on the day of an event, they can upset your digestive system. Instead, it is a better option to take up protein and carbohydrates.
Any form of exercise is guaranteed to leave you experiencing dehydration, especially in hotter weather. Dehydration is very dangerous to your performance because your body struggles to cope with the intensity, and it can even be life-threatening.
Every athlete, no matter what kind of sport they pursue, should strive to drink water as often and as early as possible. You should not wait until you are thirsty (that is a sign of dehydration), and you should drink before and after any sporting event.
You may not know this as well, but chilled fluids are easier to absorb than water at room temperature. They are good as well because they help your body to cool down as the performance is happening.
Fluids are vital as well because of electrolyte loss. When you are exercising or involved in a sporting event, your body is losing fluids because of sweating, and sports drinks may help with replacement of these fluids. An even better option is combining the sports drinks with equal amounts of water to achieve the optimal balance.
– Nutritional supplements
This is not always the case, but sometimes your diet may lack certain nutrients – mostly vitamins and minerals. In this case, your doctor may prescribe supplements, if other methods of altering your diet and lifestyle do not work at that point.
Keep in mind that using these supplements can be dangerous, and should only be taken with guidance from a healthcare professional.
Athletes need greater nutritional requirements than most people, as it is important to help them maintain peak performance and their health at the same time. Of course, all this should be done under the guidance of a sports scientist or a medical professional, as the athlete will need to understand their nutritional needs first before embarking on these diets.