Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sports Nutrition

As an athlete, it is important to remember to fuel your body with quality foods and stay hydrated. Eating correctly will help ensure you are at your peak performance for competition. Not providing your body with the proper fuel can derail your training and hamper your performance. Other benefits of proper sports nutrition include:
  • You are able to train longer and harder 
  • Onset of fatigue is delayed 
  • Performance is enhanced 
  • Optimal recovery is promoted 
  • Concentration is improved 
  • Potential for injury is reduced 
So what should you eat?
Try your best to consume whole, unprocessed foods whenever possible. Your diet should also be balanced and have variety. 

Carbohydrates – The carbs you consume should come from whole grains, seasonal fruits and vegetables, sweet potatoes, yams, squash, and beans.

Carbohydrates provide a major source of energy, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They are also your major muscle fuel source for high-intensity activities.

Protein –
The protein you consume should come from meat, birds, fish, eggs, nuts, beans and cheese.

Protein builds and repairs muscle tissue and works with carbohydrates to increase your recovery rate.

Protein comes from two main sources: animals or plants and vegetables. It is best to get your protein from animal sources as these contain all nine essential amino acids.

Healthy Fats –
The fat you consume should come from animal fat, egg yolks, coconut oil, olive oil, and avocado. Avoid vegetable oils (canola, corn, safflower, soy, nut & seed oils).

Fats are the major muscle fuel for low intensity activity. They are also a major source of energy and vitamins.

You also need to stay hydrated!
The largest contributing factor to fatigue during exercise is dehydration. Dehydration is caused by the loss of fluid and electrolytes, mainly from when you sweat. Not only is important to stay hydrated but you also need to choose the correct drink to do the job. Water is obviously the best choice, as it will replenish your body’s lost water fluids from exercise. Sports drinks are a good choice during or after an activity but should not be consumed all day long. Avoid sodas and other carbonated beverages as well as juices that contain added sugars.

Fast Food?
Try to avoid fast food whenever possible. It has been processed multiple times and therefore it takes the body years to break it down. Fast food contains very low vitamin and mineral content and instead is loaded with saturated fat, simple carbs (sugar), or both. Consuming fast food will cause your body to crash, as it does not provide the necessary fuel for maximum performance and for recovery between performances. Essentially, by eating fast food, you are working against yourself.

If you’re really in a pinch for time, grab a sandwich from the deli. These can still be made with low quality food so your best bet is to head to a health food store, such as New Seasons or Whole Foods.

The best possible thing to do is be prepared. Pack yourself enough food and snacks to munch on throughout the day so that you don’t have to resort to fast food! Some of the best snack foods are fruits, vegetables, oatmeal, protein shakes, trail mix, jerky, yogurt, cheese, tuna, hard-boiled eggs.

“By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail”
- Benjamin Franklin

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