Eat Well to Improve Your Sports Performance

A healthy, balanced diet is important to an individual's performance in their chosen sport/s, and can have a considerably large influence on what they achieve as an athlete. Here, we look at how you can modify your dietary intake to match the needs of the exercises and sports that you do.

Obviously, it's not the only factor which has an effect upon your performance in a particular sport, but getting the balance right when it comes to eating a nutritious diet each and every day certainly can help to improve your success rate as an athlete. Competitors in all kinds of sporting activities are likely to have a specially-tailored diet plan or at least some sort of idea about what foods they should eat and in what quantities to perform as well as possible in their activity of choice.

Starting with the basics, it's important that you're aware of the different food groups, their functions in the body, and the types of food products that belong in each them. Carbohydrates in their complex form are the most important foodstuffs to an athlete in terms of the energy they provide, which is why many athletes 'carbohydrate-load' in the weeks leading up to an endurance-type event such as a marathon run or long distance cycle. Carbohydrates can make up anywhere between 60-75% of an athlete's diet, so it's clear to see that they're held in high regard by many elite performers.

Complex carbs are found in bread, potatoes, pasta, rice and cereals, as well as many other products containing wheat and similar grains. When an athlete loads their body with carbohydrate foods, glycogen stores build up in the muscles, and are then released during exercise to allow the body to sustain a high-level of performance for longer without energy reserves becoming overly depleted.

Proteins are also vitally important to any aspiring athlete, and can be found in the form of meat (including vegetarian substitutes like Quorn and tofu), fish and eggs as well as many nuts, seeds and pulses. The role of protein in the body is to help muscle cells grow and repair themselves - essential in order to maintain a high level of muscular strength and endurance to help you succeed in your sport.

There's also a time in sport where eating sweet treats which contain high quantities of simple sugars is of huge importance. Just before or after a workout when a quick supply of short-term energy is required to provide or replace any lost sugars, it's often a good idea to snack on a chocolate bar or a few glucose-enriched sweets. Providing these 'treat' foods are consumed in moderation and not as a main source of energy in your diet, you shouldn't worry about whether or not it's permissible to eat them.

To finish with, let's take the opportunity to reinforce the importance of water as a component of one's daily food and drink intake. During physical activity, water is sweated out of the body in the form of perspiration, and to remain hydrated and keep all of your organs in prime working condition, you really must replenish lost water as you exercise. Energy drinks designed specifically for sport are useful for this purpose - especially if you require energy as well as just hydration - but water is just as effective in hydrating the body quickly and easily. Remember: the human body is approximately 60% water in terms of its mass, and so this vital substance really is centric to any sporting success you have.

On a parting note, the best step you can take in order to improve your sporting performance through precise dietary management is to consume a healthily balanced diet which incorporates all of the essential food groups in their correct quantities. It's worth noting that the more you exercise, the more calories you burn and so the more you need to consume in order to maintain a consistent, healthy weight. However, be sure to oversee that you take these additional calories on board in a responsible form to get the optimum benefits from them. Complex carbohydrates which provide long-term energy are a more suitable choice than a fat-filled cream cake, for instance.

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