Sports Nutrition is the application of knowledge and science relating to eating and nutrition when it comes to enhancing anyone’s sporting performance. Sports Nutrition is very important part of all sports training programs, being equally popular in endurance sports and weight sports as well. It deals with all the needs of athletes and sportsmen in terms of their nutritional requirements for a successful performance and healthy life. The principles of this discipline include the proper intake of essential nutrients that are required for the production of hormones that aid in physical and mental performance; the maintenance of good health and fitness through the proper diet and exercise; and the prevention and treatment of any negative side effects that may come as a result of consuming the right types of food.
The principles of sports nutrition include eating several small meals, instead of one big meal, before and after exercise and training. It is also important to eat several small meals throughout the day, rather than having three large ones. Exercising regularly helps in proper digestion of food and regulation of the blood sugar levels, and should therefore be done in moderation. Eating before and after the exercises is one of the most important aspects of following a correct eating plan for a better performance.
Most of the carbohydrates that athletes consume come from the foods they eat, or drinks they consume such as energy bars, milk shakes and energy drinks. Carbohydrates provide energy for performing physical activities and games, especially when an athlete is using up all his energy in just a short period of time. They also are important for a person’s everyday living, in terms of carbohydrates for energy, fats for body maintenance and carbohydrates for fueling the muscles for games and exercises. The problem comes in when an athlete consumes too much carbohydrates before and after training. This can result in a build up of fat on the body, making him susceptible to weight gain, even when he is not working out.
To maintain healthy levels of energy, sports nutritionists recommend athletes to eat three to five small sized meals and snacks throughout the day, rather than having three large meals. An hour or so before exercise, athletes should have a protein shake, a piece of fruit, a piece of pasta with extra protein, a bowl of fruit and two hours later, another protein shake. For recovery, athletes should eat four to six small meals and snacks every two hours. For instance, an hour before workouts, athletes should eat a post-workout meal containing fish, eggs and one or two cups of green vegetables.
Aside from having the right proportion of nutrients, sports nutritionists also advise athletes to get lots of rest. Rest makes you feel better and it also gives your body time to recover and rejuvenate. Without enough rest, your body will run out of nutrients and you could suffer from serious muscle and bone injuries. Injuries during athletic competition could take weeks or months to heal depending on the severity. Therefore, proper nutrition and adequate rest are important for an athlete’s success in his or her sport and recovery from injury.
Some people think that sports nutrition and physical activity are the same thing. However, this is not true at all. Just like physical activity, there are certain recommended foods and drinks for athletes who want to perform well in their sports or events. However, unlike physical activity, athletes can eat whatever they want as long as it is within the recommended limits. An athlete is allowed to eat breakfast and lunch and dinner, but then they can eat anything they like after that, provided it is within the specified portion. This allows for a balanced diet, not a diet free of calories and fat.
Another misconception about sports nutrition and physical fitness is that athletes are not supposed to take sports drink supplements because they are not allowed to drink alcohol. However, not all sports drinks are bad for you. If taken properly, sports drinks can help improve an athlete’s performance and prevent injuries. Sports nutritionists recommend sports drinks containing electrolytes and choline instead of caffeine and sugar because these substances have been shown to speed up healing. Choline is especially important because it promotes blood flow. Without sufficient blood flow, the body cannot repair itself and can easily be injured.
To sum it up, eating right when an athlete is training or competing helps promote health and positive body image. Athletes need to realize that they need to eat more than regular people because they are required to lift heavy weights and do rigorous exercises. However, they should not overeat because it can cause negative effects such as dehydration and malnutrition. Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia can develop if an athlete overeats. These eating disorders can cause negative effects such as gaining more weight, injury, and depression.
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