As an endurance athlete, why is what you eat and drink so important? Let’s go over three reasons. First, proper nutrition is absolutely necessary to ensure your best performance in competition. Second, good eating patterns can sustain your training, while bad eating habits can sabotage it. The third reason why you should be aware of what you eat is…well, it’s healthy! This article will describe some of the advantages that you can expect from taking control of your nutrition.
1. You need good nutrition in order to achieve your best race.
Eating and drinking properly before and during the competition will help you achieve your peak performance. Food in your body acts like fuel in your car – it keeps you going, and higher quality food means higher quality performance. Eating the right types and quantities of food will give you a steady supply of energy throughout your race and help you avoid “hitting the wall” or “bonking.” Also, the specific nutrients, such as electrolytes, in your foods can help replenish what you lose through sweat. Hydration, or water intake, is just as important. A loss of just 1-2% of body weight from water loss can impair your performance and more than 4% loss is medically dangerous; on the flip side of dehydration, too much water intake can lead to hyponatremia, an equally dangerous condition. By choosing the right foods and hydrating properly, you can also avoid unpleasant effects such as stomach or muscle cramping.
2. You need good nutrition to be able to train hard.
Beyond enabling you to perform your best on race day, a good diet allows you to arrive at the starting line in shape and injury-free by enabling you to sustain your training. Again, proper fueling before, during, and after the workout affects the quality and effectiveness of your workouts. For the weeks and months leading up to the competition, your daily training is tough on your body. Each workout you do breaks down your muscle tissue. To build it back up stronger, you need protein and other nutrients. Similarly, water is crucial to repairing muscles. In addition, optimal repair and maintenance of your body tissues not only improve your training but also help prevent injuries.
3. You need good nutrition in order to be healthy.
And finally, the third reason to be aware of your food and water intake is that it is healthy! You probably already know that when you balance the calories you eat with the calories you burn, you maintain a steady weight. But nutrition is more than calories. The other nutrients are important, too. The best way to prevent nutrient deficiencies is to eat a well-balanced diet. Healthy eating means clearer thinking, higher energy levels, stronger bones, and a healthier heart. Besides making you look good and feel great, a healthy diet at your optimum weight allows you to perform your best.