Sports Nutrition is the study of nutrition and supplementation with regards to enhancing anyone’s sporting performance. In essence, nutrition is a critical component of all sports training regimes, being especially popular in endurance sports and strength sports. This field of study covers a wide variety of topics including the physiological aspects of the body and its regulation; the role of nutrition in promoting performance and enhancing training and fitness programs; the use of supplements in athletics and rehabilitation; and the management of nutritional risk in athletes. There are numerous other areas of focus as well.
Sports Nutrition addresses the management of an athlete’s nutrition prior to, during and after exercise, with particular emphasis on sports drinks, supplements and hydration. Sports drinks are designed for sportsmen and sportswomen of all ages, but are particularly relevant to those engaged in contact sports. Hydration is also an integral part of a nutritious diet and should be included in that equation as often as possible. Sports nutritionists will often recommend sports drinks, which are composed of electrolytes and carbohydrates to replace water lost through sweating, and to improve electrolyte health, particularly in athletes.
Eating on-time, at specific times, when an athlete is eating a proper nutrition plan is just as important as the types of food consumed. In fact, eating to eat is just as important as the types of food consumed. It is also vitally important to consult with a nutritionist to develop a comprehensive sports nutrition plan and to stay on top of eating according to the recommended plan. Sports Nutritionists uses a variety of tools to help determine an athlete’s needs and to create an eating plan that meets those needs. The most common tools include dietary surveys and athlete interviews.
Dietary surveys are often used by sports nutritionists to determine an individual’s nutrient intake. Surveys are helpful because they ask both specific and general questions and can provide good data. However, there are limitations to dietary intake for athletic individuals. If athletes consume a large amount of protein or fat then they may be at risk for gaining weight, even if their caloric intake is quite low. A dietitian can help individuals plan an appropriate diet based on their level of physical activity.
An athlete may also need to increase their carbohydrate intake in order to meet the recommended daily allowance. If the athlete wants to eat carbohydrates, then the dietitian can usually help them choose from a variety of sources that provide all the carbs they need but are lower in fat and sodium than what is generally consumed. In most cases, a dietitian can also suggest good carbohydrates to the athlete, especially if he or she wants to build muscle. The dietitian can also advise athletes about the best sources of protein to eat.
One of the most important components of a sports nutrition plan is the use of whey protein. Bodybuilders and athletes who have reached their fitness goals typically use whey protein shakes or capsules. Athletes who want to build muscle and obtain the strength they need often turn to eggs and chicken protein, because these sources of protein are high in amino acids and low in carbohydrates. A good dietitian can help athletes choose from among the many sources of protein, they are allowed to include in their daily diet.
One of the more popular sports nutrition supplements today is creatine. Creatine is available in pill, powder and in bottled drinks. A good dietitian can help the athlete determine how much creatine to take, which should be customized for each individual. Although many athletes take this nutrient, they do not get the levels of creatine they need from eating food alone.
Perhaps the most overlooked aspect of a good sports nutritionist is the need to consider hydration. Not all sports nutritionists consider dehydration as part of their athletes’ nutrition plan. This can lead to health problems for people who practice extreme sports. A good sports nutritionist keeps track of various liquids that should be consumed during athletic events, such as water, juice and sports drinks. The hydration process is essential for athletes who want to minimize water loss and replenish electrolytes that have been lost during activity.
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