An Athletes Diet: How It Relates To Sports Performance

Excellent sports performance cannot be achieved without having a good nutritional  diet plan in place.  Most  athletes realize they have different nutritional needs due to the fact they are more active people than the general population. However, depending upon the sport they are participating in, their particular diet will in all likely hood be different from someone else in a different sport. If athletes are yearning to perform better, they have to make sure that they are eating the right foods.  Foods like carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals, and sufficient amount of water are foods that will nourish their body, but there is more to it than just these foods.  In other words, while an athlete may know what healthy types of foods they should consume, they still need a proper diet plan to know the right amount of foods.  This is especially true for those who participate in strenuous training or long hours of exercise.

Nutrition diets for athletes is not only about loading carbohydrates in their system but it is also about refueling, repairing, re-hydrating and recovering those vitamins and minerals that were lost during intense work outs and trainings.  Carbohydrate-rich foods includes pasta, rice, starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn, carrots, and sweet potatoes, beans, bran, cereals, bread and fruits are some that will give any athlete the edge they need.  Carbs supply a majority of the energy requirements for most kinds of exercise. It provides the fuel needed to promote muscle usage and contraction. This element is especially important for the sportsperson because it stores as glycogen in the body. Glycogen influences the body stamina and endurance. When there is not enough glycogen stored in the body, the end result is very poor performance due to fatigue.

Protein is also a critical element for the athlete as it’s made up of amino acids. It is a very essential element to build and repair our body tissues. It helps muscles to contract and to increase strength. Sources of proteins are legumes, fish, chicken, lean meat, dairy products, nuts, and seeds.

Vitamins and minerals are all essential for the body to perform and function at its best. Two of the most important vitamins and minerals compounds that athletes should pay attention to are calcium and iron. Main iron resources are lean red meats, bread products, iron-fortified cereals, and shrimps. Iron carries and supplies oxygen to the blood and it is one of the most important factors in  obtaining optimal sports performance.  In sports nutrition for athletes, calcium benefits from foods like yogurt, cheese, milk, and dark green leafy vegetables. Calcium is highly needed to maintain bone strength as it increases bone density which is important to help prevent injury.

The correct sports diet is also concerned about the right amount of fluids that the body is taking in.   Many people do not realize that the body needs to be hydrated before, during and after sports activities to avoid any complications from dehydration. Effects of dehydration are  dizziness, impaired decision making, fatigue, and blurred vision.  Did you know that sixty percent of our body fluid is made up of water?  Water helps remove waste and toxins from our body and it also helps in the distribution of nutrients for our body’s needs. Drinking alcohol and caffeinated beverages must be avoided since these fluids are dehydrating. Sports drinks can help in replenishing the lost amount of body fluids during extreme activity or exercise that would last 60 minutes or even longer, but you need to be careful and find out if they are made up off too much sugar as that too can dehydrate you.

A sports diet plan can only be functional if it is followed carefully.  But before starting your  plan, consult a dietitian to assist you with what you’re going to do or consult a good book.  Sports nutrition differs greatly from normal nutrition or for people that are less-active.  Athletes need more nutrients because they need more strength, endurance and power that will keep them at their peak ability.  The bottom line is without the supply of proper nutrients poor performance will occur.