Sports Nutrition: Are You Eating Right As An Athlete?
As an athlete you have a slightly different diet than the average person. Since you are moving more, you need enough energy for your activities.
For the average person, the American Dietary Guidelines recommends the following:
• Consume a variety of nutrient-rich foods and beverages within and among the basic food groups and choosing foods that reduce the intake of saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars, salt, and alcohol.
• Meet recommended intakes within energy needs by adopting a balanced eating pattern.
As an athlete, you must follow these dietary recommendations not only for your health but also for your athletic performance.
Protein is an important part of an athlete’s diet. However, you are not encouraged to eat more than your recommended protein intake because your body will store that excess calories in the form of fat tissues. If you want to develop muscle mass, you have to do strength training and take in just a little more than your recommended intake of carbohydrates as well as small amounts protein, but not too much or you’ll end up developing love handles.
Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy and as an athlete you need to eat more energy-giving foods to sustain you. Even desserts are a green-zone for athletes since most of these are rich in sugar and are good sources of carbohydrates.
Fats or lipids are also sources of energy, just like carbohydrates. It is a common misconception that fats are bad for you. There are good fats and there are bad fats. Good fats are the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats whereas the fats you should avoid are saturated and trans fats.
Some of the American Dietary Guidelines recommendations on fat intake are as follows:
• Consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids and less than 300 mg/day of cholesterol, and keep trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible.
• Keep total fat intake between 20 to 35 percent of calories, with most fats coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.
Proper nutrition is as essential as constant practice for an athlete. Your body must be able to respond to the demands you make and that means eating the rights foods at the right amounts to be able to fully achieve your competitive potentials.
In addition to eating right, you must also be well-hydrated. Adequate water intake is vital to your body as you continuously lose fluids and electrolytes through perspiration, urinating and defecating, as well as in breathing.
Remember that water is important in nutrient transport. You need water to carry those nutrients you get from the healthy foods you eat to the muscles, organs, and cells where these nutrients are most needed.
As an athlete, you should even be more attentive to what you eat because you also demand more from your body than the average person. Therefore, you should supply it with the nutrients it needs, and in the right amounts, of course.
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