Healthy Food Choice For Athlete

Bottle of waterGood nutrition is important for any aspiring athlete. Along with proper training and motivation, your food choices can affect your performance. You don’t have to be born to be a superior athlete but here are some useful tips that can help make the difference.

Carbohydrates. These are the best fuel for your muscles. Muscles store carbohydrates as glycogen and they use it as energy. Eating enough carbohydrates is important for peak performance. More than half of your daily calories should come from carbohydrates.

However recent trends in diets have given rise to what some researchers show to be unhealthy eating practices. It has been shown that the high-carb, low-fat diet is not in fact optimal for athletes. It’s simple logic, eating too much of anything is bound to make you fat. You should eat enough carbohydrates after your exercise to replenish your energy losses but not enough to make you feel bloated. In all cases moderation is required.

Water. You can survive for a month without food but can’t go three days without water. Our body is composed of 65% water and staying hydrated for the rest of the day is challenge enough. When we sweat during our workout we lose a lot of water, which must be replaced. Drink fluids before, during, and after workouts.

You should drink 16-24 ounces of water before you exercise. Sports drinks are more suited for workouts of greater than 90 minutes. Sports drinks have two very important ingredients- electrolytes and carbohydrates. The carbohydrates provide you with the extra energy. The most effective sports drink contains 15 to 18 grams of carbohydrate in every 8 ounces of fluid.

Diets and supplements. A number of health and diet supplements target athletes with promises of bigger muscles or energy boosting. Most of the time these health supplements end up being all spin and could even be harmful to athletes. If you want to build muscle, then training,healthy eating habits and your genes would determine how much muscle you gain. In fact the average American has more than enough protein for muscle building.

Vitamins and Minerals. Eating a varied diet will give you all the vitamins and minerals you need for health and peak performance. The exceptions are active people who follow a strict vegetarian diet, avoid an entire group of foods, or eat less than 1800 calories a day.

If you fall into any of these categories, a multivitamin and mineral pill may provide the vitamins and minerals missing in your diet. These supplements are not meant to replace the lost energy during workouts or a competition and are therefore not a substitute for carbohydrates.

Protein. In addition to serving many metabolic functions in the body, protein is essential to rebuilding and repairing our body’s tissues. If you work out regularly, you are also tearing down muscle tissue which needs to be replaced. You should consume adequate amounts of meat, beans, fish, poultry, nuts, peanut butter and eggs.

Iron. You need to keep your iron levels up in order to be fit and energetic. The best sources of iron are animal products, but plant foods such as fortified breads, cereals, beans, and green vegetables also contain iron. Iron supplements may have side effects, so take them only if your doctor tells you to.

Pre-competition meals. Before a big competition, you should take in as much carbohydrates as you can. Your daily workouts should also be lessened. This will help maximize the amount of glycogen in your muscles. If your competition is in the morning, eat a light carbohydrate meal 1-3 hours before the competition begins. If your match is in the afternoon, eat a hearty breakfast. Each person tolerates food differently so experiment to see your own tolerance.

Eat regularly. If your are an athlete there is no way to meet your daily nutritional requirements with less than 3 meals and 1-2 snacks a day. Eating regularly helps maintain your glucose levels throughout the day. You shouldn’t ignore eating even if you aren’t working out that day. These non-workout days should be considered as your chance to refuel. Eat more well balanced meals during these days.

Calcium. Many people do not get enough of the calcium needed for strong bones and proper muscle function. As an athlete you need calcium to protect yourself against stress fractures and osteoporosis. Of course the best sources of calcium are dairy products but many other foods such as salmon, sardines, collard greens, and okra also contain calcium. Additionally, some brands of bread, tofu, and orange juice are fortified with calcium.

Weight. Your calorie needs depends largely on your age, body size, and training program. Like any other weight watcher, check your scale if your are tipping over your ideal weight limit.

This health education material has been favorably reviewed by then American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation

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