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Sports Nutrition: Understand Your Own Nutritional Needs

Aug 26, 2007
Day by day the field of athletics is getting competitive and right nutrition plays a very important role for athletes to achieve their goals. A balanced diet according to ones need is essential for an athlete's body to make sufficient fuel for top performance. In this competitive state there is high pressure laid on athletes to win, this can be done by maintaining desirable body weight, staying physically fit, mentally alert and achieving an optimal nerve-muscle reflexes. Just expert coaching and physical conditioning are not enough, for a training program to succeed balanced sports nutrition should be the key.

No single food or supplement can help an athlete to perform; a right combination of nutrients is required by the body. Just like each team member performs differently in a game, each nutrient has a different role to play in the body.

1. Carbohydrates - form the basis of fuel as it supplies energy in the form of glucose. A diet should comprise 60-70% of carbohydrates which includes whole cereals, whole wheat and wheat products, pastas, breads, rice, fruits and vegetables. The intake of refined flour and sugars should be minimal. High endurance and power is required in high-intensity, short-duration activities which is achieved from carbohydrates (carbohydrates are converted into sugar and starches to provide energy and are also stored as glycogen in liver and muscle tissues). To stay energized and perform at your best use a carbohydrate strategy.
2. Proteins - should comprise 12-15% of the total caloric intake. They are required by the body to build new tissues and perform other functions. The exact amount of protein that an athlete requires depends on the type of exercise, intensity and duration, level of fitness, carbohydrate intake and total calories.
3. Fats - should comprise not more than 20-25% of the total calories. Emphasis should be laid on quality of fat rather than quantity. Include less of saturates and trans saturated fats and more of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats in the diet. Fat is used as an alternative source of energy to glucose. But including too much fat is associated with extra weight gain, heart diseases, cancer and more importantly not getting enough carbohydrates in the diet leading to poor performance.
4. Vitamins and minerals - a well balanced diet including all the food groups eliminates the need for taking any sport supplements of vitamins and minerals for athletes.
5. Water - lot of water is being eliminated from the body during an exercise. As our body cannot store or produce water, the losses should be replaced to avoid dehydration. Drink water even if the body does not show any signal for thirst. Sports drinks are generally used by athletes for longer events.
About the Author
Kevin Pederson manages websites on nutrition, diet and health. Sports Nutrition is a food system that is essential for an athlete or player and is something to be taken seriously to overcome the stress and energy deficiency.
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