Sports Nutrition is the discipline and study of diet and nutrition as regards to enhancing anyone’s athletic performance. In its most simple form, it is used to enhance a person’s nutritional needs when preparing for, maintaining, recovering from and enjoying his or her athletic events. Nutrition is a very important aspect of most athletic training regimens, particularly being equally popular in endurance sports and strength sports. Sports Nutrition is a term used to refer to the overall diet and lifestyle recommendations that athletes use to improve their athletic performance, as well as how they heal after athletic events. Sports Nutrition is not a new concept. For thousands of years, sportsmen and sportswomen have been studying and applying findings on nutrition and its role in enhancing athletic performance and healing.
The origin of sports nutrition can be traced back to ancient Greece. Athletes were known to apply nutrition principles to their training and sporting events long before the written word was even developed. History tells us that Greek athletes would organize competitions and races in order to prove to their fellow athletes just how good they were at their particular sport. The methods used by ancient Greek athletes are quite different from those used today, but the spirit behind them still remains.
One of the first considerations in ancient Greece associated with sports nutrition was to provide enough calories and nutrients to the athletes that they used to train and compete in. As time passed and more advancements were made in the field of sports medicine and nutrition, athletes became concerned that they were not receiving enough nutrients during exercise. It became necessary to learn ways to give the athletes that energy and focus that they needed to perform at their highest levels. Sports Nutrition has come a long way since ancient times and modern athletes are still striving to improve their health and physical performance.
One of the first considerations when it comes to sports nutrition is determining the right ratio of essential nutrients and non-essential nutrients. In modern society, we know that the ratio of essential to non-essential nutrients is much more negative than it was in ancient times. This is why most athletes eat an abundance of fast food, packaged foods, sugar, fat and protein. These processed foods do not contain the essential vitamins and nutrients that need to be carried throughout the body and carrying these nutrients into the body can cause the body to become undernourished.
Another factor that goes into sports nutrition are the food and supplements that are used. In the past, athletes did not rely on nutritional supplements like today’s athletes. These athletes relied on eating a healthy diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as lean meats and whole grain breads. There was a time when athletes did not have a choice; they had to eat what the team provided, which may not have been the best food or nutritional supplement. Today, there are many options available to athletes in the form of sports nutrition supplements.
If an athlete is not getting enough fluids, the results could be dangerous for the athlete. It is vital to remember that hydration is vital to a person’s physical activity level. Athletes are trained to stay hydrated through vigorous exercise. An athlete who has low levels of hydration risks dehydration, which is one of the most common reasons for injury.
Finally, another element of a good sports nutrition plan includes eating meals at specific times to give the body the nutrition it needs. In many cases, the athlete will eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. The goal is to eat a meal to provide energy before participating in the training and competitive events. The athlete may also eat snacks between events to maintain his or her energy levels between workouts. Although the athlete may choose to have a light snack during the day to maintain energy, the nutritionist will make sure the athlete eats something because the body needs nutrients after working out.
Lastly, carbohydrates are an important component of sports nutrition. Sports nutritionists recommend that athletes eat complex carbohydrates such as pasta and potatoes instead of refined carbohydrates such as white bread. The carbohydrates should also be high in fiber. Some athletes try to cheat by taking too much sugar or starch, but this is a big mistake. Instead of taking carbohydrates, athletes can choose to eat foods with high dietary fiber such as nuts, beans and whole grains.
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