When you are in training good nutrition rules don’t change. However, because of the calories you burn during workouts there are some eating suggestions that will help you stay strong and energetic. Variety in foods including fruits, veggies, nuts, dairy products, and whole grains is the secret to peak performance levels.
Unlike a diet for people engaged in less strenuous activity, athletes in training consume more carbohydrates and fats. These fuel the physical activity. Athletes may also need more protein than regular diet.
Carbs provide almost half the energy athletes require. As the intensity off their workout increases, so too should carbohydrate intake. Athletes especially need complex carbohydrates. Good foods for complex carbs are pastas like spaghetti and lasagna, potatoes, and grains and cereals. The body also needs the simple carbohydrates like milk and raw honey.
When athletes exercise their bodies convert carbs to glucose which is then stored in muscles for energy.
If you are doing strenuous exercise like running, cycling, skiing, swimming, or canoeing for more than an hour, you need to consume high carbs for two or three days before to “fill your gas tank” to be ready. That’s where 70% of your energy will come from.
Eating sugar or honey just before an event does not provide any extra energy for the event. This is because it takes your body at least half an hour to metabolize this energy.
Fat provides body fuel. If an event lasts more than an hour, the body may use mostly fats as a source of energy. Athletes’ fat consumption should not fall less than 15 percent of his total diet. Eat the right kind of fats: Restrict saturated and trans fatty acids. Include omega 3 fatty acids in your diet and through supplements.
Fat metabolism can be speeded up by caffeine.
Since caffeine is a diuretic athletes should avoid it.
Next to carbohydrates and fats, proteins are the greatest energy source. Athletes’ need for protein may be increased by exercise. Extra protein is stored as fat. 10 to 12% of diet should be lean proteins. A varied diet will provide more than enough protein. North Americans tend to eat more protein than they need. Protein supplements are unnecessary and not recommended.
Athletes should always start any event hydrated. They must also take care to replace fluid lost during exercise. Drinking chilled liquids at regular intervals is a good practice. The body absorbs cold liquids faster. Cold liquids also help lower body temperature.
If an athlete is eating wisely and getting sufficient calories, he should not need more vitamins than is obtained by eating a variety of foods will improve performance. Thiamin, riboflavin and niacin (B vitamins) are needed to produce energy. These can be obtained from eating a varied diet. Milk products increase the riboflavin level and provide protein and calcium.
Heavy exercise affects the body’s supply of sodium, potassium, iron and calcium. Sweating increases the concentration of salt. Avoid excessive amounts of sodium in the diet. Drinking beverages containing sodium after exercise may help restore minerals.
Before exercising or an event, meals should be small, easily digestible, and under 500 to 1000 calories.