An extremely important part of training well is following a healthy diet. For those athletes who are trying to practice and compete often, applying good habits with the foods you choose can be critical. Here are some tips on nutrition for athletes you can consider to build into your routine.
I. Nutrition For Athletes – General Nutrition Tips For Athletes
1. Watch Your Carbs
Carbohydrates are considered as the main source of energy in a diet for athletes. Getting enough on the right carbs at regular intervals will make sure that you, as an athlete, will have fuel to sustain high intensity training for long, hard durations. It is recommended that taking in additional carbs from two or three days prior to the event to help top up the glycogen stores. It is totally true for cyclists, long distance athletes, and so on. In order to get maximum carbohydrates storage, people are recommended to eat a diet that about 70% of its calories are gained from carbohydrates, containing cereals, pasta, fruits, and vegetables.
On the day of a special event, you had better eat the last meal about 3 or 4 hours before doing exercising in order to keep an empty stomach.
Also, athletes should also avoid consuming starchy or sugary foods within 30 minutes before starting the activity. The process of metabolizing carbohydrates uses water that could hasten dehydration. If the activity lasts for more than 90 minutes, it is critical for you to replenish minerals, carbohydrates, and water during doing exercise process. Experts stated that you should eat a simple snack and consume fluid every 15 minutes. Those refined carbohydrates might pass rapidly into the bloodstream where they fuel working muscles. A lot of athletes go for sports bars, gels, or sports drinks because they are convenient. However, fresh fruit and fruit choice are excellent options that you should opt for.
2. Maintain A Healthy Level Of Daily Calorie Intake
To maintain a healthy body, people need about 1200 to 1800 calories per day, yet an active athlete needs much more than that. It is estimated that about 2200 to 3000 calories per day is an average intake for an athlete, depending on body, weight, age, and activity level. This number can help them maintain peak performance levels effectively.
3. Consume Enough Protein
In fact, protein does not supply a lot of fuel for energy, yet it is critical for you to maintain muscles tissue. The average person requires about 1.2 or 1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. Besides, a strong athlete might need up to 1.7 grams per kilogram of the body weight. When it comes to nutrition for athletes, milk is considered as one of the best foods for the recovery after exercising. Actually, milk includes both whey protein and casein. This combination might be especially useful for athletes. In other words, research shows that the human body can absorb whey protein rather rapidly, so it can help boost the recovery process instantly after an event. On the other hand, casein can be digested more slowly, ensuring the long-term recovery of muscle after a challenging event. Milk also includes calcium that is important for maintaining strong bones. However, you should avoid consuming too much protein as it can put pressure on your kidneys. Therefore, you had better take natural high-quality protein like, fish, nuts, poultry, eggs, or milk to get proper protein.
4. Go Easy On Fat
Normally, if you are joining in long events like marathons, the body will turn to fat for energy when carbohydrate source is low. Yet, the majority of athletes get all of the fat necessary by following fundamental dietary instructions. Eat mainly unsaturated fat from foods like avocados, olives, nuts, or fatty fish such as tuna and salmon. On the other hand, you had better not eat fatty foods on the day of special events, as they may cause stomach distress.
5. Stay Hydrated
Such high intensity, particularly in the hot weather, could rapidly leave people hydrated. As a result, dehydration might affect negatively your performance and even be life-threatening. Thus, every high-intensity athlete should drink fluids early as well as often. Keep in mind that you should not wait until you feel thirsty as by the time you are thirsty, you might be extremely dehydrated. Another way to control dehydration is to pay attention to the color of your urine. A pale yellow color means you are getting enough fluid while bright or dark color means you are dehydrated. As intense exercise can lead to fast fluid loss, it is better for you to drink fluids before and during the event. If possible, you should drink chilled fluids that are more easily absorbed than water at room temperature. Chilled fluid also assists athletes in cooling the body down.
6. Restore Lost Electrolytes
In fact, sweating will lead to both electrolytes and fluid loss. Electrolytes can transmit nerve signals within the human body and play other critical roles. For replenishing lose electrolytes, a lot of athletes go for sport drinks. In case that you lose a lot of fluid sweating, it is recommended that diluting sports drinks with the similar amounts of water to get the best balance of electrolytes and fluid.
7. Salt Might Be What The Doctor Ordered
If you finished your workout with the white crust on the clothing, visor, or on your own skin, you are salty sweater. Actually, the longer you exercise, the more salt you might lose in your sweat. Hence, you need to consume additional salt during exercise.
Once you exercise long enough to need to replenish carbohydrates, you will also need to replenish sodium. Most sports products supply sodium. In order to make sure that you are getting enough sodium during the workout, just stay on the lookout for the following signs of low blood sodium during as well as after the long workouts.
- Muscle cramps
When experiencing the symptoms above, boost your sodium intake during exercise by opting for high sodium sports drinks or by adding the electrolyte replacement to the water or sports drinks. Good sodium guidelines are to avoid excessive amounts of sodium in your diet as it might result in water loss, causing weak muscles.
8. Vitamins And Minerals
Enhanced caloric consumption through various diets will help you get a sufficient amount of vitamins and minerals. Riboflavin, thiamin, and niacin are necessary to manufacture energy from the fuel sources in your diet. Nevertheless, plenty of these vitamins and minerals can be gained from eating various foods. Mineral plays an important role in the performance of an athlete. Heavy exercise impacts the body’s supply of potassium, sodium, iron, and calcium. Sweating during exercise will enhance the focus of salt in the body.
Eat potassium-rich food like bananas, potatoes, and oranges to get necessary potassium supply. Calcium is a critical nutrient for the human body as it is essential for the muscle function and bone health. Fact is, calcium loss might result in osteoporosis later in life. Therefore, you should choose low-fat dairy products, supply the best source of calcium.
II. Nutrition For Athletes – Tips To Remember Before And During Workouts
1. Several Hours Before The Workout
The pre-exercise meal will be changed depending on your exercise style. If you exercise in the evening, then your lunch should contain such easy digestible foods rich in complex carbohydrates, like breads, pasta, fruits, and vegetables. For instance, a large salad with a small amount of protein will work well for you. Just consume a small amount of lean meat like fish or chicken, and experience what works best for you.
If you exercise in the morning, then eating a light breakfast of toast, fruit, or an egg will help you feel best. Besides, everyone is different; thus, you should experience several options and choose the best one for you. No matter what you will choose, drink adequate water before and during a morning workout to regulate your body naturally.
Check out: easy tricks to avoid sport injuries.
2. Thirsty Minutes Before The Workout
Based on the kind as well as duration of the workout you do, you should eat a small snack and consume some water a half hour before starting. Trail mix is good for aerobic workouts lasting about 90 minutes. Nevertheless, if you are going to spend about 30 minutes for a hard workout, then you need a large banana, some graham crackers, pretzels, or fig bars. For a much shorter workout, you do not necessarily have to eat something; yet get some calories by drinking 10 ounces of a sport drink.
3. During The Workout
Appropriate hydration during exercise might be verified depending on your type of exercise duration and intensity and even the weather. To simplify those recommendations, you should start drinking 8 to 10 fl oz of water every 15 minutes during the exercise. If the exercise lasts more than 90 minutes, you should drink 8 to 1 fl oz of a sports drink every 15 minutes. In case that exercising lasts more than 90 minutes, the requirement is to replenish both lost water and carbohydrates. If the workout lasts for less than one hour, you do not need to consume anything extra.
Maintain nutritional conditioning not only for athletic events, but all the time. The above tips on nutrition for athletes hopefully can help you, as an athlete, to create a healthy diet plan and improve athlete performance effectively. Leave your words at the end of this post of nutrition for athletes to let us know your thoughts. We will respond all soon!
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