Sports Nutrition is the process and research of diet and nutrition especially with regards to enhancing anyone’s athletic performance on a physical level. Nutrition is an important component of all sports training programs, being equally popular in endurance sports like long distance running and high impact aerobics. Studies show that consuming an adequate amount of protein, calories, amino acids, essential vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and fat is very crucial for athletes. These are the four pillars of sports nutrition.

Athletes need balanced nutrition especially when engaging in competitive sports. In order to maximize athletic performance and minimize any health risks, one has to be knowledgeable about their nutritional needs. Being an athlete requires good dietary support in order to get enough hydration, enough fuel for high intensity exercise and ample rest for recovery and recuperation. Sports nutritionist and professional athletes are well aware of the importance of hydration, electrolytes, amino acids, protein and the importance of carbohydrate intake to optimize sporting performances.

As part of sports nutrition, athletes should ensure that they take in the right amount of protein and essential nutrients to maintain muscle development, repair damaged tissues and improve performance and provide energy to complete exercises. Sports nutritionist have studied for years, how much is enough for an athlete’s diet in order to sustain muscle mass, enhance training intensity and reduce body fat. One of the best ways to get the required amount of nutrients is by taking a multivitamin/mineral supplement. These supplements should contain all the essential vitamins and minerals that an athlete needs for optimum functioning.

Protein is one of the most important nutrients needed by the body for muscle growth, repair and other energy-intensive processes. Whey protein and egg protein are the best sources of protein for sports nutrition. Other sports nutrition supplements containing protein include glutamine, creatine and casein. Creatine is also one of the best sports nutrition supplements as it helps in improving energy levels, strength and muscle mass and can also help in creatine absorption and utilization by the body. Casein is another nutrient that is commonly used as an added source of protein and serves the purpose of improving muscle mass, strength and the immune system.

Athletic trainers often recommend athletes to keep track of fluid intake while exercising. During competition, athletes may require up to eight quarts of fluid every hour to replace waste products, increase metabolism, and facilitate muscle recovery. Hydration also plays an important role in physical training and endurance and it is especially vital for runners and basketball players. To attain adequate fluid intake during sports, athletes should follow guidelines provided by athletic trainers. For example, athletes with kidney disease or those who suffer from high blood pressure or diabetes are required to consume less water. Moreover, athletes are advised to keep track of their fluid intake during exercise physiology classes.

One of the primary goals of sports nutrition is to create a balance between carbohydrate and fat consumption for optimal metabolism and energy levels. Carbohydrates include glucose and other glucose-like sugars, and proteins such as proteins, which can be derived from meat, poultry, fish, eggs and legumes. Foods that are rich in carbohydrates and protein are recommended by most athletes as they provide energy to the athlete. However, studies indicate that athletes with abnormal eating habits, including dietitians and professional athletes with the metabolic syndrome may not meet their goals of maintaining muscle mass and strength, despite meeting adequate nutrient requirements through diet and exercise. Athletes with the metabolic syndrome have high blood sugar and low levels of insulin; therefore, they may fail to meet their carbohydrate and protein requirements.

Additional sources of fluids that are recommended by many sports nutritionists and other experts include fruit juices and plain water. Consuming plain water is encouraged because it can help replenish electrolytes lost during intense physical activity. Aside from beverages and sports nutrition shakes, athletes are also encouraged to take in food that is rich in fiber, such as whole grains and vegetables. Foods that are rich in fiber are also recommended because this type of food aids in the regular digestion of food and prevents constipation. Vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, cabbage, turnips, and carrots are excellent sources of fiber. Consuming enough of these vegetables can lower the risk of developing diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome.

The consumption of sports nutrition products may not be necessary for all athletes. There are athletes who can still satisfy their nutritional needs through exercise, and those who are able to do it without the help of sports nutritionists. Those athletes who are diagnosed with an abnormal eating habit and unable to meet their nutritional needs through diet and exercise are encouraged to consult with a professional nutritionist who can suggest sports nutrition products that can help them meet their goals.

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