An important fitness tip that Athletes should not ignore, is the importance of sports nutrition. Just as a fined tuned race car is not expected to perform without the proper fuel in the tank, the same theory can be applied to the human body.
Why is sports nutrition so important? Why do athletes need to consume the best muscle building foods and supplements?
1. To increase energy for long term (aerobic) and short-term (anaerobic) muscular endurance.
2. To replace substances in sweat loss.
3. To build strength and power.
4. To build lean muscle.
5. To lose fat.
6. To relieve pain.
7. To stimulate mental concentration .
8. To repair injuries and damaged tissue.
9. To speed recovery between workouts.
You spend months and countless workouts preparing for a particular event, tournament, game or meet, preparing your body to perform to its fullest potential. This is where sports nutrition and healthy eating plays an important role.
There are many powdered drinks, bars and pills that claim to be the best but this page will focus on the foods that can be most beneficial to sports performance and sports nutrition.
My number one rule for any race or tournament day is very simple." Do not try anything new on the day of the event!".
Stick with the foods and supplements you have used to train with so you know how your body will react. Resist the temptation to try some new drink or food combination that you haven't personally tested during your workouts.
What an athlete consumes before, during and after exercise is important for performance during exercise. The major source of fuel for working muscles is Carbohydrates which gets stored in the muscles as Gylocogen days before exercise. The fact that gycogen is stored days before exercise stresses the importance of a " post exercise meal" which is critical to recovery from the last session as well as prepares your body for the next session.
What to Eat
Foods that are high in carbohydrates and easy to digest are the best energy source for exercise. These include food sources such as pasta, fruits, bread, sports drinks and energy bars.
When to Eat
Exercising right after eating is not the best option. Exercising with food in your stomach can cause indigestion and cramping, not ideal for extreme exercise. Allow enough time to let a meal fully digest before an intense exercise session or competition. Depending on what you have eaten this can take from 1 to 3 hours. Continue to experiment with foods and time to see what works best for you. Eating something easily digestible can be done 20-30 minutes before an exercise session or event, such as a liquid meal or drink.
Planning for Event Day
Remember rule number one, " Do not try anything new on event day " My first Ironman I experimented with coffee beans and "Red Bull" huge mistake, I was instantly sick. The second rule for planning would be do not assume the venue of the event will have the nutrition that you need, bring you own food!. be aware of the fluid you consume and make note to stay hydrated. A good guideline to start with is a healthy meal 4 hours before event ( exercise or competition), a snack or energy drink 2 to 3 hours before, and a drink or gel 1 hour before.
Pre Exercise and Competition Food Suggestions
These are some general ideas but each athlete is different and should experiment during training.
1 hour before competition
These are all easily and quickly digestible.
2 to 3 hours before competition
* bread, bagels, pasta
* fresh Fruit
3 to 4 hours before competition
* bread, bagels
* baked potato
* energy bar
* fresh fruit
* toast with peanut butter
* protein such as a lean meat or chicken
Foods to Stay away from before extreme exercise or competition:Foods that take a long time to digest and stay in the stomach a long time, usually these are foods high in Fat. Fatty meats, fries, chips, candy, doughnuts and other foods high in fat should be avoided.
Visit my Hydration Page for important tips and recommendations regarding proper hydration.
Water vs. Sports Drinks * Water is easily absorbed
* Water is the best choice to drink before moderate length exercise
* Water is readily available and less expensive than sport drinks
Research suggests that for workouts consisting of at least 45 minutes of continuous exercise or high-intensity workouts of any duration – running, aerobics, biking and intense weight training – a sports drink may be beneficial in delaying muscle fatigue by providing your body with additional energy and can be critical for proper sports nutrition:
* Sport drinks will replenish fluids while containing a small amount of carbohydrates and electrolytes
* A steady source of carbohydrates during prolonged exercise fights off fatigue and enhances performance by fueling the muscles
* Studies show that a solution containing electrolytes and carbohydrates may be absorbed more quickly and helps to retain fluids consumed after prolonged intense exercise
* The taste of a good sport drink may encourage you to keep drinking.
Please note everyone is different when it comes to food and sports nutrition. Please check with your Doctor if you have any certain sugar or daily diet requirements.
Natural Nutrition Vitamins
Natural Nutrition Vitamins will provide you with health supplements, natural vitamins, and nutritious meal-replacement and weight-management products containing soy protein.
Eating for Maximal Strength and Energy click here.
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