Sports Nutrition is the process and study of diet and nutrition specifically with regards to enhancing anyone’s athletic activity. Nutrition is a significant component of most sports training programs, being equally popular in endurance and strength sports as well. It’s also used by professional athletes and other individuals who participate in strenuous physical activity on a regular basis. The need for specialized nutrition and the proper knowledge and tools to implement it are essential if you want to get the best results. Sports Nutrition is really not a new concept. In fact, its development has been a direct result of the athlete’s constant interaction with the natural world around them.
The need for sports nutrition has become increasingly relevant due to the advancements in today’s technology and medical science. Modern day athletes are no longer just out there exercising to maintain their bodies. They are now also out there trying to keep their bodies powered, functioning at their optimum levels and ready for any physical exertion that they might encounter during their daily workouts. This new awareness and understanding of the relationship between food and exercise should have changed the way we eat for many years, but despite all that we still haven’t quite achieved. This is due to the fact that most people still only associate exercise with eating and vice versa.
As adults we do have a relatively clear understanding of what a balanced diet is, or what the general principles underlying it are. But to understand sports nutrition or why it’s beneficial to your health is a relatively new concept. Children and adults are more at risk because of their different physical requirements and responses to diet and active adults are even less well-understood. Our response to exercise and nutrition has developed over the last hundred years with the notable exception of the 20th century. So what has changed over the years that has led to this new understanding?
The first major shift in the development of sports nutrition came about with the development of the sports industry. Professional sport organizations required athletes to be on a strict diet. They required a certain amount of protein, carbohydrates, fat and vitamins. This created a need for innovative approaches to food selection and nutrient distribution. And these needed to be well thought through because if an athlete was not consuming the right amount of the right nutrients, he or she would get sick. This led to the first great shift in our understanding of diet and nutrition.
There are still many challenges and changes that need to be addressed when it comes to sports nutrition for active adults. Athletes still need the same things that athletes take in when they train. Protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals are still critical to an athlete’s diet plan. We’ve found over time that the quality of these nutrients varies among manufacturers. Some better than others.
When it comes to athletic training, most athletes will eat the same type of food as other athletes, but they typically eat differently. Bodybuilders and other elite athletes may eat more protein and carbohydrates compared to the average person. The reason for this is that muscle building requires a higher level of protein than just strength training and endurance activities. Therefore, if you’re an athlete who is trying to gain muscle, a good sports nutrition plan is critical to your success.
Another big difference between an athlete and someone trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle is their caloric intake. Athletes will consume more food and more frequently to support their training and physical activity. When we compare their caloric intake to ours, most of us make the mistake of eating large amounts of food and very little of it at specific times. Caloric intake needs to be monitored and consumed in a controlled manner in order to meet both nutrient and exercise needs. In doing so, athletes can keep their weight within the recommended limits and avoid any nutritional deficiencies.
Fluid plays an important role in maintaining an athlete’s energy and overall health. During competition, most athletes will increase their water intake to replenish lost electrolytes due to exertion. Additionally, body weight tends to rise during the competition, which also requires an increase in fluid consumption. If you’re like the rest of us, you probably don’t drink enough water on a regular basis. A sports nutrition plan that includes increased fluid intake can help improve your body weight and improve your athletic performance, all while decreasing your risk for health problems and diseases.
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