When it comes to sports nutrition, athletes tend to have some issues. These issues typically span around their nutritional intake and energy management. In this regard, we’ve taken the pain of addressing 10 nutritional issues for athletes. With what we will be discussing, athletes and aspiring athletes can learn a thing or two as regards having optimized sports nutrition.
1. Healthy Eating
Having good sports nutrition means ingesting a variety of foods. Many people tend to get stuck in a routine of eating 5 to 10 staple foods repeatedly. Some of these foods may include bananas, pasta, carrot sticks, chicken, lettuce salad, and the likes.
However, you need to mix things up a little. Using the 80/20 rule, you can eat 80% of the time and leave a little space for some pure pleasure and soul nourishment. If you are going to eat foods or drinks that provide little to no nutritional value, such as beer, jelly beans, coffee, cupcakes, and the likes, endeavor to make the moment worthwhile.
If the food provides no nutritional value, at least try to get maximum psychological or mental pleasure out of it.
2. Energy management
Good sports nutrition demands that you eat three meals a day, with the largest portion being fruits or vegetables. You also want to make sure to add some lean protein. Plus, try to eat at least three of the four food groups. This way, you will get adequate protein and enough carbohydrates to fuel your brain and muscles.
You can also eat 2-3 healthy snacks per day.
By now, you may have guessed that water is also part of sports nutrition. It is crucial to stay hydrated. What this means is that you need to drink water with all snacks and meals. This includes anything sweet or salty such as caffeine, alcohol, or pop. To know if you are well hydrated, keep track of when you pee. If you pee every one to two hours during the day and your urine is pale or clear in color, then you are well hydrated.
4. Pre-exercise eating
For dinner, you can choose to eat lots of fruits or vegetables or lean protein. Example of such foods includes vegetable-laden sauce with lean meat or chicken over pasta or bean with vegetable soup.
For lunch, you can choose to eat a glycogen-induced carbohydrate snack. This will top up your energy stores. This is especially important if you skipped breakfast. Examples of foods you could eat include popcorn, a bagel with jam, fruits, or even cinnamon toast.
For breakfast, you also want to aim for carbohydrate and protein and a bit of protein. The protein helps with staying power, allowing you to endure workouts. Plus, endeavor to keep this meal moderate in fiber and low in fat. You should aim to have more time between eating and exercising as it allows you to eat longer.
Recovery is an essential aspect of sports nutrition as it lets you recuperate after an intense workout routine. So, what can you use to recuperate? We’ll tell you. First, focus on rehydration and try to drink 2-4 cups of water. Afterward, eat or drink any food that contains carbohydrates 30 minutes after you finish a hard workout session.
This can include fruits, bagels, vegetables, yogurt, and the likes. Always eat at every 2-hour interval.
6. Road Eating
Fast foods contain a high amount of fats and sodium, and in this regard, you don’t want to make it a habit. If you have to eat while traveling, do well to keep some healthy snacks away. Your road trip shouldn’t be an excuse to blow your healthy eating. You should always be conscious of observing good sports nutrition at all times.
7. Weight Management
Now, most athletes tend to freak out when it comes to weight management as they judiciously obsess over their weight. You should do this as it keeps you from enjoying your meals. What you need to do is adhere to good sports nutrition; how?
You simply need to pay attention to hunger and safety cues. Give your meals the required time and spacing. Don’t approach every meal like it’s your last.
Gauge your fullness on a scale of 1 – 10 and know your limit. In this measurement, 1 is starving, and 10 is overfull. So, you want to top at 5, where you feel physiologically and psychologically satisfied, not stuffed.
There is this common misconception in sports nutrition as regards supplementation. Most of us tend to believe that we can replace a healthy diet with supplements. Well, this is simply a false concept that TV commercials have popularized. Yes, sports drinks, gels, and bars have their roles. They are simply leverage-items you need to stay afloat during a long workout routine.
Sports drinks are simply there to remind athletes that they need to drink more fluids during their workout routines.
If you’re a vegan, you need to replace the meat portion of your diet with healthy protein alternatives such as beans, chickpeas, lentils, soy products, tofu, nuts, seeds, eggs, and the likes. If you don’t take dairy foods as well, you need to consider vitamin D and calcium.
10. Food Safety
You want to be wary of what you ingest. In this regard, we advise that you consume more organic foods. While organic foods may offer no additional nutritional value, they tend to reduce your intake of pesticides and other chemicals. So, the extra cost is well worth it.
However, organic or not, ensure to always wash your foods before cooking or eating them. This helps to minimize food poisoning.
With all we’ve discussed, you should understand the importance of sports nutrition. The tips we talked about can be used as a guiding compass to regulate your food intake. In the long run, every athlete has to have a certain level of discipline and an unrelentless ability to stay within sports nutrition principles. Stay safe and healthy. Leave your thoughts in the comment section.