The success of every athlete, whether they play amateur or professional sports, depends on how well they can endure the rigors of athletic competition. Many things go into the making of a top performing athlete and this includes mental, physical and nutritional preparation. Sports nutrition is a vital part of any training regimen because it supplies the actual fuel that the body needs to stay at peak performance levels.
Just like a car runs out of gas after a certain amount of miles, an athlete’s body can run out of fuel too soon due to dehydration and carbohydrate depletion. Most athletes want to win or reach a personal milestone, and so they push their bodies to the max to reach their goal. When they do this, their bodies burn up an extreme amount of calories. Because the body constantly needs fuel in order to perform its normal functions, it quickly runs out of precious fuel when the engine is revved up by sports competition. And, this is why a lot of attention is placed on making sure an athlete’s nutritional needs are met before, during and after a competitive activity.
If you’ve ever watched a marathon for the duration, you’ve probably looked on in admiration as the leaders of the pack have the stamina to keep running at a steady pace for many miles. These runners are helped in their endurance by having refueling stations along the way where they can drink water to prevent dehydration. Yet, there are some who start to struggle at the halfway point and slowly fall further back in the pack. In spite of their mental determination to finish strong, they are betrayed by their body’s lack of fuel. Just like an empty car gas tank gives out before reaching the next town, a runner may collapse before reaching the finish line.
Every fiber of an athlete needs fuel in order to function properly. Fuel usually comes in the form of healthy foods that are packed with carbohydrates and protein, an energy drink with powder protein added and other liquids like water or milk. Athletes are known for putting a lot of strain on their muscles. These muscles can easily cramp and strain without proper nutrition. A vigorous metabolism is also needed to keep the body going at peak levels for long periods of time.
This is why sports nutrition has become essential to the well being of every athlete. Each sport tends to have its own form of athletic nutritional requirements and recommendations. Bodybuilders, Football players, Skiers, Rock Climbers, Triathlon athletes all have particular dietary regimens that they follow in order to perform at the top level of their sport. The goal is to balance nutrition, health & sports supplements.
These days, most sports fitness programs are pretty comprehensive and involve educating the athlete in all aspects of meal planning, nutritional needs and goals, and how to incorporate supplements like powder protein into their daily routines. They are also instructed on how important it is for them to eat a certain amount of carbohydrate foods like chicken, beef, and fish, along with a healthy serving of vegetables, and low-calorie snacks. They are even told how much to eat and when to eat certain foods. The smart athlete will follow these recommendations and then reap the benefits of having an improved performance.
Studies have shown that athletes require more food, liquids, and nutrients than the average person. And just like there are certain foods that they should eat a lot of, there are also foods that they are told to stay away from – mainly high fat, low nutritional value junk food. While an athlete is in the heat of a rigorous training regimen, eating the wrong types of foods can seriously dampen their performance and impede the functioning of their metabolism.
But, of course, they are human too, so there needs to be some way that an athlete can indulge in a little snack while not compromising themselves nutritionally. This is where things like a protein shake, bars, and snacks come in. Instead of snacking on unhealthy foods that don’t provide them with any nutritional benefits, the athlete can indulge in a chocolate protein bar, a fresh strawberry powder protein shake or snack on protein-packed nuts like peanuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.
An athlete has to get just the right balance of protein in their diet. Protein helps to build up and repair every cell in the human body, so the importance of this nutrient cannot be ignored. The larger and more active a person is, the more protein they will need to keep their body strong. Protein also helps protect the immune system, so if an athlete wants to stay fit and well, they will need to monitor their protein intake constantly.
Vitamins also play an important role in the athletic diet. The goal of the athlete is to get as many vitamins and nutrients in their system during the day as possible. This is why there is no room for junk food. Each meal needs to provide some form of Vitamins A, B, C, and D, plus minerals like iron, folic acid, potassium, and magnesium. Many athletes will be told to eat at least six meals a day in order to satisfy all of their nutrient requirements.