Understanding the fundamental concepts of sports nutrition is useful, whether you’re an athlete on a college, university or high school team, or a bodybuilder who works out at the gym.
Whatever you eat and drink has an effect on your performance. Sports nutrition information is plentiful. But not all of it is accurate. Confusion and conflict abound. You may be torn between varying advice on websites and blogs, magazines and personal recommendations.
* Is it important to take special foods before you compete?
* Are nutritional supplements essential if you want to bulk up?
* Can vegetarians or people with food allergy be competitive athletes?
All these questions (and more) fall under the broad ambit of sports nutrition. In this brief report, we will explore the essentials of this topic.
As surprising as it might be, nutritional requirements for sports aren’t much different from those of regular students or young adults. The same nutrients, minerals and calorie requirements apply for all people of similar age and build. Even protein needs are nearly identical.
The major difference comes in the increased requirement of carbohydrates for sports nutrition. Carbs are your body’s primary energy source. Unless you consume enough carb calories, you will not be able to perform at peak efficiency in any form of physical activity or sport.
Regular exercise is increasingly recognized as an important part of a healthy lifestyle. There are 5 food groups that can provide you with all the calories and nutrients necessary for top level sports performance.
Not counted as a “food group”, but just as important as any of the above, is water.
Energy, measured in calories, is necessary for all bodily activities. On average, you need 2500 calories daily to maintain your weight and handle all metabolic functions. This figure will vary slightly depending on your age, physical activity and other factors.
The calories consumed in everyday diet maintain a balance between the 5 types of food groups. Planning the right diet that provides such a mix is the domain of sports nutrition and specialist nutritionists spend their careers designing, monitoring and improving diet plans geared to help athletes and bodybuilders achieve their best possible performance.
When you workout regularly or train for a sport or event, your body will require more energy than if you were sedentary. When you exercise, your heart beats faster, your muscles consume more energy and your lungs work harder. This means any reserves of energy are quickly used up when you begin to exercise.
What you eat and drink will replace these stores and allow you to continue to exercise without getting tired. For a limited time, your muscles can incur an energy debt that must be paid off soon afterwards. That is the reason why many sports nutrition plans advocate post-workout and post-training meals rich in carbs and protein.
To meet the higher energy demands of your body following sports or exercise, you must eat more frequently and consume greater quantities of food over the day. This does not mean gorging yourself on unhealthy food. You must increase your portions of carbohydrate, protein and healthy fat without eating much of saturated fat. Pasta, porridge, brown rice and wholegrain cereal are good choices.
Sports nutrition experts recommend eating at intervals of 4 hours so that your body has time to digest whatever you eat. Larger meals take longer time to fully digest. Snacks get broken down more rapidly into constituents and used up by your body to provide energy or rebuild muscle. A meal rich in carbohydrate but low in fat and protein that is eaten no more than 2 hours before a workout can help you build muscle rapidly.
Adequate hydration throughout a workout is important. That’s why you should make sure that you drink enough water while exercising or playing sports. Whenever your body’s water content drops to a low, an adverse impact on performance is unavoidable. If you plan to exercise for longer than half an hour, make sure that you drink water in between your routines.
For the best results, consult a sports nutrition specialist for advice and suggestions.
Some athletes and bodybuilders use nutritional supplements to make up their daily requirement of calories and nutrients. They can help boost strength and enhance performance. There are a wide range of supplements, some of which are safe and helpful while others have little benefit, or are rarely even harmful.
Before you consider taking any supplement, make sure that you are getting a healthy and balanced diet. Eating the right foods alone will not make you stronger or active. Exercise workouts or practice sessions for sports are more important. To find out which is the best supplement for sports nutrition, consult with an expert. Creatine, whey protein isolates, energy drinks and multi-vitamin supplements are among the more popular choices.
Athletes in training must concentrate on what they eat and how often they eat. Staying on top of recent developments and constantly monitoring the effect of their diet on performance can help boost performance and improve results. Both professionals and amateurs alike can enjoy an advantage through effective sports nutrition.
There is no magic pill or secret food that will give you a winning advantage. Sports nutrition involves making a series of decisions about what you eat so that you meet all your body’s needs without impairing fitness or performance.
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