Athletes and Nutrition
In ancient times, athletes believed that to achieve the strength and power of the bull, they must consume his muscles. The fact is, whether you’re a professional athlete, a weekend tennis buff, or a recreational runner, your stamina, endurance, strength and performance are affected by what you eat. To maximize athletic performance, a varied and balanced diet is essential.
The six classes of nutrients are protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, minerals and water. Nutrients work together to supply the body with the energy to build and maintain body cells and to regulate body processes. Energy is supplied by carbohydrates, fat, and protein.
Protein is the least efficient energy source and is used by the body for energy only when the carbohydrate and fat stores have been exhausted, as in starvation. Fats are the most concentrated form of food energy in our diets.
The most efficient source of energy for an athlete is carbohydrate, found in breads, cereals, potatoes, pasta, rice, fruit and starchy vegetables. These foods are broken down into glucose, which is the primary source of energy for the muscles during exercise.
Glucose not used immediately for energy is stored in the liver as glycogen. High glycogen stores are essential to athletes in endurance sports and long training sessions. A high carbohydrate diet, usually more than 10 servings, keeps the glycogen stores high. Lack of stamina and fatigue are seen in athletes with inadequate glycogen stores.
Water, although not a source of energy, is essential to replenish fluids lost to sweating. Cool, rapidly absorbed fluids should be provided before, during, and after exercise. About 60 percent of body weight is water–and its most important function is as a coolant.
The Pre-Game Meal
The meal that athletes eat two to three days before a competition fills their muscles with glycogen. By the time athletes go to bed the night of the competition, they have the glycogen stores they will compete with. Thus, the meals eaten the day of the competition will not do much to increase glycogen in the muscles.
The purpose of the pre-competition meal is to prevent hunger during the game. The stomach should not be full during the event. In general , it takes one to four hours for a stomach to digest and absorb a meal. And if athletes are a bit nervous about the completion, digestion may come to a halt. Foods which remain in the stomach during the game may cause nausea or vomiting. Athletes should eat their pre-game meal three to four hours before competition for safety’s sake and it should be something they enjoy.
Foods to avoid at pre-game meal include high fat, high protein food, especially high fat items since fat takes the longest time for the body to process. Foods that contain a high percentage of carbohydrates are suggested: cereals, grain products, bread, pasta, muffins, fruits, vegetables, sherbet. With the exception of dried beans and peas, items in the meat group are high in protein and fat.
Healthy Living Article List
|For Women||For Seniors||Fighting Cancer||Your Heart||Emergency 101|
|Work Smart||Bones, Muscles and Joints||Nutrition News||Advice From Our Docs|