What to eat

It is also important to know how much food is the right amount and what to eat. The meals should be low in fat, high in carbohydrates, and have low to moderate protein content. This is complemented by adding adequate fluids, minerals, and other essential nutrients.

Calories: An athlete’s need for calories is greater than the average person’s, but it needs to come from the right source. Typically, it ranges between 2000 and 5000 calories a day. It is important to get calories from carbs instead of simple sugars like candies, soft drinks, jams, and jellies. These provide ample calories but have zero nutrition value. As we eat and absorb the nutrients, the food is transformed into calories, and our body gets filled up with energy. It can then perform all the necessary functions. Since an athletic body burns calories faster, getting them from a variety of sources is important. A balanced intake of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats can help maximize body strength and the athletic performances. With the right proportions and balance of nutrients, performing intense physical activities is easier, one gets more energy for endurance and power and enjoys an edge during physical activity.

Carbohydrates: These are considered to be the efficient fuel for energy production which in turn makes them the most important nutrient for sports performance. Stored mostly in the muscles and liver, these are main sources of energy during exercise. We can get complex carbs from foods like rice, pasta, and whole grain bread which are low in fat and full of fiber, minerals, and vitamins, and of course energy. A little more than half of the daily calorie intake should be from carbs. They fuel our central nervous system and ensure a steady flow of energy in the brain, leading to better concentration and alertness. They are also stored in the body as glycogen, as an energy preserve that can be used when needed for intense physical activities.

Fluids: While they complement the diet, fluids like water help if the workouts last for less than 60 minutes. Water constitutes 60 percent of our body weight and is, therefore, the reason for our wellness. Along with other fluids, water keeps the body hydrated and the temperature normal. Strenuous workouts may lead to significant loss of fluids. One needs to keep hydrate and re-hydrate the body even during workouts. When you are dehydrated, you will feel lightheaded or dizzy, less urination and dry mouth syndrome. For athletes, this can result into a lack of strength and energy, and affect their performance. Ample fluids in the system would mean flushing toxins from your system effectively. Fluid balance helps transport nutrients throughout the body and aids in musculoskeletal lubrication. Opting for quality sports drinks to replace lost electrolytes is also advisable so that the body can continue to function at its best.

Iron, vitamins, and other minerals: These have the inherent key to unlock the hidden energy stored in the body, as well as the food. They ensure that the body always have ample fuel to perform well. The easiest way to get these are from green, leafy vegetables. The right amount of meats and fish also help. Essential nutrients like calcium, fluoride, magnesium, and vitamin D adds to bone health and overall strength. One should consult a doctor and get quality supplements to get these nutrients if the diet proves to be inadequate.

Protein: It is needed both before and after a workout since it ensures that the right amino acids are available to the muscles when one is exercising. They are more important to ensure proper muscle growth, to rebuild and repair muscles after a strenuous workout, and to repair body tissues. While extra protein helps, excess protein doesn’t aid in muscle growth. Protein intake needs to be balanced in the diet and partnered with strength training and exercise. They offer energy after the carbs are used up. Proteins should be had from good sources like lean fish and meats, beans or soy products. It helps make white blood cells that improve immunity and fights infection. It also helps to make red blood cells that aid in easy oxygen transfer to the muscles.

The ideal diet for an athlete may differ, but it should be one that amply powers one’s exercise regime.