As an athlete, you need to know about nutrition and how what you eat affects your performance. Without going into too much detail (which would be easy on this subject) we have compiled what we believe to be the Top Ten of nutritional facts, tips, hints – call them what you will.
1. Your body works a lot like a car; it needs fuel to function effectively. Your muscle cells function similarly to a fuel tank, stored carbohydrates serve as a rapid source of fuel. Eat carbohydrate-rich foods prior to you workout to reduce the drain on your body’s stored energy.
2.The most effective way to fuel up your body is with energy rich nutrients. Eat a large meal four to six hours before your work out. Eat a lighter meal two to three hours before physical activity. Grab a snack 30 minutes prior to exercise. If you’re an athlete, 50 to 60 percent of your diet should be made up of carbohydrates.
3. Recharge your battery. Refuel during workouts that are more than 30 minutes in length. Drink fluids that have simple carbohydrates.
4. Tap into your reserve fuel tank for extended bouts of physical activity. Your body begins to burn fat as fuel (“in the flames of carbohydrates”) after about 18 to 20 minutes of aerobic exercise (long to moderate distance).
5. Hydrate, Hydrate and Re-hydrate. It is imperative to replenish the liquids you lose when working out. While exercising, be sure to drink fluids every 10 minutes — don’t wait until you are actually thirsty.
6. Protein is key to muscle maintenance and growth. Your body must receive adequate amounts of protein to function properly and repair damaged tissue.Be sure your body receives the recommended daily protein requirements: 1.0 to 2.0 grams per kilogram body weight (1.0-1.5 grams/kg for “ball” sports such as tennis, golf, football and squash and 1.50-2.0 grams/kg for the more extreme sports such as marathon running and body building).
7. Protein vs. Carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are instant fuel for the muscles. Protein assists recovery and repair, helping damaged muscles maintain muscle mass and increase girth.
8. Maximising your fuelling and refuelling efforts. Be sure to eat a carbohydrate-rich food within 30 minutes of completing your exercise regime. Take in easily digestible carbohydrates, which are converted into glucose and stored in muscles as glycogen (quick fuel).
9. Reducing recovery time. Adequate protein. Antioxidant nutrients. Adequate fluid.
10. Use supplementation to your advantage. Vitamins and minerals help assist the body’s chemical reactions and regulatory processes. Antioxidant nutrients can help you reduce your recovery time. Supplements are especially beneficial for athletes susceptible to decreased immune systems.