Runners, cyclists, swimmers, wrestlers, boxers, bodybuilders -- they are all athletes. Athletes seem to operate at a level higher than us, mere mortals, who complain at the slightest sign of walking the short distance from the car park to the grocery store. Their seemingly limitless amounts of energy and tireless dedication to the sport they're in is something that we envy and yet, don't want to be in, at the same time. We, who are content, with our sluggish (compared to these demigods on the field) humdrum lives, would rather spend a lazy Saturday morning in bed than do the rounds in the oval or those laps in the pool.
Yes, athletes operate at an altogether different physical plane. And because of the rigorous demands of their sport, their nutritional needs are also way different from the rest of humanity. In fact, obtaining proper nutrition is key to making them go higher, faster, stronger in their chosen sport.
For starters, athletes need to consume more carbohydrates from such food sources as pasta, potatoes, cereals, milk and dairy. When these carbs are digested, they turn to glucose and are stored in the muscles as glycogen, ready for use during exercise. Thus, a high-carbohydrate diet allows an athlete to exercise for a longer period of time, about 90 minutes or less. For events of longer duration, a high-carbohydrate diet a couple of days before the competition should be sufficient to provide the energy an athlete needs to complete the activity.
Despite the advantages of a high-carbohydrate diet, constantly resorting to this is not recommended. Athletes also need to use up their stored body fats to fuel their routines. The longer athletes work out, the more fats they are going to use up.
Because of the constant muscle and tissue wear and tear, athletes need high amounts of protein in their diet as well. Protein can be obtained from various vegetable and animal sources. While some athletes, particularly bodybuilders, take meal replacement shakes and bars that are high in protein content, they are generally not recommended. Protein obtained from natural food sources are infinitely better and safer than those in processed foods.
Like protein, the vitamin and mineral requirement of most athletes can be met through fruit and vegetable consumption. Potassium, an important mineral in regulating muscle activity, can be obtained by eating bananas, oranges and potatoes. Calcium can be derived from dairy-rich products. Athletes with iron-deficiency are usually prescribed iron supplements.
Two or three hours before any event, athletes usually eat a pre-game meal that provides about a thousand calories. This comes mostly from complex carbohydrates like pastas, cereals, fruits and vegetables which are easily digestible. Water is also an important part of this meal. High-fat foods, however, are not included because they take a long time to pass out of the stomach.
If an athlete wants to take his game up a notch, optimum nutrition is key. When combined with an exceptional training program, he or she can go higher, faster, stronger and conquer any game.
You know the feeling. Your stomach growls and you just know you need to fill it up. But you're in the office, stuck with loads of work on your table and can't prepare a meal to save your life. Or you're rushing to work only to realize that you don't have time for a quick breakfast. You don't want to skip the most important meal of the day because you know doing so would wreck havoc on your metabolism and cause you to gain weight. What do you do in both cases? You reach for your bag and get that bar to satisfy your hunger or eat in place of breakfast. A high-protein, low-carbohydrate protein bar just saved your day!
Protein is necessary to optimum functioning and good health. If protein is lacking in the diet, growth gets stunted, the immune system gets compromised and a weakened cardiovascular and respiratory system results. To get your quick protein fix, you resort to protein bars.
Protein bars are nutritional supplements usually taken by bodybuilders or athletes to satisfy their protein needs all throughout the day. Usually made of soy or whey, protein bars also have peanuts, oats, milk and eggs as part of its ingredients. While they satisfy the body's protein needs, their high-sugar and saturated fat content makes them inappropriate as full meal replacement alternatives. For those who seek to gain muscle mass without the worry of ingesting too many calories, protein bars provide the solution.
Protein bars are best eaten an hour before and an hour after each workout. Your body needs the energy boost it gets before you do your routine. Your muscles could also use that much-needed protein these bars give for repair and recovery after your workout
Aside from athletes, protein bars also make good snack alternatives for our growing children. Giving them protein-rich snacks aid in their physical growth and development. And because our kids don't have to mix these, protein bars have gained popularity if only for their convenience. Unlike pre-packaged powdered protein drinks that need a little preparation, protein bars don't require anything else other than opening the pack and gobbling it down. Homemade protein bars are better, especially where your kids are concerned.
Most commercial protein bar preparations are chockfull of sugar. If you still want to get the same benefits minus the sugar, you can make your own protein bar at home. Start by grounding whole oats in a food processor. If you want to save yourself the hassle of this process, just buy protein powders and use them in place of the oats. Add cinnamon and nutmeg, some chopped nuts and dried fruits to the mixture. Then, add about a cup of peanut butter to the mix, making your batter resemble sticky dough. Line a 6 by 8 inch baking pan with wax paper and spoon the protein mixture into the pan. Freeze for a couple of hours. Cut into desired pieces and enjoy them wherever you go! This homemade protein bar alternative is cheap, natural and nutritious.
For nutrition on the go, protein bars are an excellent choice.
You've all heard that regular exercise and a healthy diet are part and parcel of staying fit. However, it seems that the idea of fitness nutrition is, more often than not, subordinate to exercise. What does this mean? There seems to be the mistaken notion that it's okay to eat anything as long as you burn it off afterwards. Not! This is one of the biggest lies ever propagated where fitness nutrition is concerned.
The aim of fitness nutrition is to give your body the nutrients it needs to stay strong, fit, healthy and energized throughout the day. With this in mind, it's also imperative to fill our diet with foods that give us this kind of nutrition. Eating for health requires that all food groups be represented. Remember the go, glow and grow foods your grade school teacher spent hammering into your head? Well, food groupings haven't changed much. You still need your proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. That means you need to feed your body with fruits, vegetables, fish, lean meat, dairy, whole grains and cereals. That means going natural with your food choices as well.
But that's not all there is to eating for heath. It also means eating in moderation and at the right times. Too much of anything is bad, so don't get too caught up in the high-protein low-carb diets. They only wreck havoc on your normal body processes. Eating healthy means eating the right amounts from all food groups in small portions five to six times a day. This also means not skipping breakfast. When your mother nearly force-feeds you to eat this most important meal of the day, she wasn't kidding. If you don't eat, you're starving your body and preparing it to snack on more sugar-rich and unhealthy junk later in the day.
What if you do feel the need to snack during the day? Opt for fresh fruits like bananas, pears or apples. They're chockfull of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Yogurt is also a good alternative. Not only is it rich in calcium and protein, it also has live Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria that's good for the digestive system as well.
Does that mean that all fast food is off-limits? That would be ideal? However, it's not necessarily a no-no for as long as you watch your portions and you don't do it often. But where soda is concerned, you'd do best to avoid it with your cheeseburger meal. Ask for water instead. Fruit juice? Unless you squeeze it from the fruit itself, forget it. Processed juiced drinks have more sugar than juice and you're better off with pure water.
Fitness nutrition also means minding how you eat. It's chewing your food well and taking the time to enjoy your meal for at least 20 minutes. It's eating when you're hungry, not because you're stressed or emotionally upset. It's stopping when you're already full. Finally, eating for health also means learning healthier ways of preparing foods. You need to learn how to cook foods through steaming and stir-frying instead of deep frying them. It also means stocking your pantry with healthful foods.
Eat healthy. Live healthy. That's the real essence of fitness nutrition.
Nutrition and sports performance is a complex and essential relationship for serious sports men and women to understand and it can help them achieve success in their chosen sport. Sports nutrition also aids injury prevention and speeds up recovery times from an injury. The correct diet and fluid intake coupled with appropriate training is the difference between winning and losing. Fuelling the body with the right nutrition can be key to success.
Good sports nutrition promotes brain function and muscle activity. Physical training and performance requires the right diet (quantity and quality) that will provide the athlete with energy. Each sport has its own individual requirements as does each individual sports man and woman. These requirements dictate the nutritional demands of training and competition. Sports nutrition applies scientific methods to the applications of the sport to provide a diet that meets the needs of both athlete and discipline.
Sports performance is fundamentally affected by dehydration. The importance of water and fluid replacement in sports nutrition is paramount to supporting the activity of tissue cells in the body. These cells carry nutrients and oxygen around the body, eliminating toxins and removing excess body heat. During physical exercise, body heat increases and water is lost through evaporation or sweating. In hot environments, sports activity can attribute to sweat losses of 4-5 pints an hour. Water loss is partly offset by metabolic water produced from proteins, carbohydrates and fat metabolising in the body. However, sports nutrition dictates that hydrating the body properly requires fluid intake before, during and after activity.
A sports nutritionist will calculate fluid losses by measuring body weight before and after a session to determine how much fluid is required. Optimum levels should never be exceeded as overloading on fluids can lead to stomach discomfort and breathing difficulties during the activity. Modern sports nutrition recommends special carbohydrate-electrolyte drinks for intense activity that has a longer duration but water is typically recommended for low to moderate level activity.
A diet rich in carbohydrate and low in fat improves long-term and short-term sports performance. High-intensity exercise requires more carbohydrates to ensure the liver and muscle glycogen levels are high. High liver and muscle glycogen levels improve performance and glycogen present in the liver is a source of glucose for the brain (important for concentration, alertness and reaction time). A wide range of carbohydrates are required to ensure essential vitamins and minerals are present. Potatoes, bananas, pasta, bread, vegetables, cereals and porridge are a good source of carbs for sport.
Protein plays an important role in sports nutrition by building muscle and repairing it. Athletes should aim to eat a range of foods that will provide the necessary levels of protein. Foods such as lean meat, fish, eggs, beans and pulses, milk, yoghurt, cheese and cereals will provide protein needs. High protein sports nutrition does not necessarily lead to greater muscle mass as excess protein in the body is metabolised or excreted. The extra amount of food required for sport is usually enough to provide the correct intake of protein without resorting to increased portions or protein supplements. High-protein diets can be expensive and will decrease the bank balance before increasing muscle mass. A good sports nutritionist can ensure there are adequate nutrients and calories for an athlete to support the requirements of their sport.
When it comes to getting fit or losing weight, having a long-term workout program planned out for months at a time, with goals to achieve along the way, will help you to stick with it. To come up with your program, you need to start with the basics to come up with something that suits your needs. Are you trying to lose weight? Are you trying to improve your overall fitness? Are you trying to tone or to bulk up? Having a clear grasp of what youâ€™re aiming to do in the long-run will help to guide your plan and keep you motivated too. Now it's time to think about how often you will work out. If youâ€™re new to workout programs, or are not particularly fit, you may need to go easy to start with. Plan to do some light training on one or two days each week until you start getting used to physical exertion and recovery. Too much too soon could be overwhelming and put you off. After easing yourself in, you can increase the intensity of the workout and add an extra one or two workout days to your program. Try for three days each week, or maybe four if youâ€™re feeling really energetic. However, itâ€™s as important to include rest and recovery days in your schedule as it is to include workout days. The amount of time you allow for a workout session will dictate the variety and kinds of exercise you can carry out. For lots of variety, youâ€™ll need a longer session, and for endurance exercise youâ€™ll also need more time. You need to have an idea of the exercises you need to do in your program. Think about which areas of your body youâ€™d like to focus on the most. Do you want to drop weight off your stomach? Do you want to increase the endurance in your legs? Perhaps you want to bulk up your biceps? You can plan each session with these focal points in mind. Build your program up bit by bit. Start off by deciding on your general aims, then figure out how much time youâ€™ll have available or want to spend exercising. With a range of possible exercises in mind, plan what youâ€™d like to cover in each session. See if you can cover everything in a one- or two-week exercise cycle. After youâ€™ve begun the actual workouts, youâ€™ll have a better idea of which exercises work for you, and how long it all takes. You can then adjust your program to match what you learn. With this knowledge, you can then set yourself longer-term goals â€“ like increasing the number of reps or sets you do in a session, or running further in the same amount of time.
Bodybuilding takes its toll on the body, which is why bodybuilders tend to use a range of supplements to help fill in any gaps in their diet and provide the body with what it really needs. These dietary supplements can boost performance, help speed up progress, increase fat loss and help build muscle mass. If you're trying to build up your body right now, you can use the following supplements to help you: Whey or casein protein powder: This powder is usually mixed with water, milk or juice, and is used to build muscle in the body. Protein is the main muscle building component, and protein powder contains a high concentration of essential amino acids and branched-chain amino acids. The amount of protein powder that should be ingested by a bodybuilder varies according to age, size, build and exercise level. Creatine: This is an organic acid already existent in our bodies that helps bodybuilding by providing short, intense bursts of energy to the muscle cells. Creatine has been proven by various studies to increase energy, strength and endurance, while at the same time reducing fatigue and increasing brain function. It is believed that creatine is best combined with protein and carbohydrates during consumption for the best results. Glutamine: This amino acid is abundant in the body and makes up a large percentage of skeletal muscle, but during bodybuilding the supply of glutamine depletes quickly and with it goes the bodyâ€™s endurance and strength. However, glutamine takes quite a long time to replenish naturally (5 to 6 days) so taking glutamine supplements can help increase endurance and muscle mass growth. Essential fatty acids: These are important for the body to function optimally, though they are not directly related to building muscle. They are not readily synthesized by the body, so getting them through fish oil or flaxseed oil supplements can help. Weight gainers: These are meal replacement products that can help you put on weight more quickly, especially for those who really want to pack on the muscles. They contain a lot of calories, so the bodybuilder must take these in proportion with the amount of weight training done or else fat will be gained instead of muscle. The supplements listed above are often taken together in a synergistic way to get the best results, but the combination of supplements that will work really depends on your individual body type and type of weight training plan. Experiment with a few different combinations to see what works for you.
Your metabolism refers to the various processes occurring within your body that transforms the food you take in to energy. Aside from its function of converting energy, metabolism also keeps the body working as it should, repairs body parts and rids the body of toxins. When the body receives the necessary nutrients from a balanced and healthy diet, is kept hydrated with water and kept fit through exercise, metabolism remains healthy. When any of these components are lacking, metabolism slows, leading to fatigue, fat gain and ill health. Thus, it is important to keep the metabolic rate up so the body functions at its best.
Since it is not possible to get all the nutrients our body needs from the food we eat, vitamins are essential in providing what is lacking. Besides, there are also vitamins that enhance metabolic function by transporting oxygen to various organs and tissues in the body. Others are involved in the conversion of carbohydrates, proteins and fats into energy while others help in the removal of toxic waste.
Vitamins that increase metabolic rate perform these functions. The B-vitamins as well as Vitamin C are important in this regard. Vitamin B-2, B-5 and B-12 help improve metabolic rate while Vitamin C is an antioxidant that also regulates it.
Vitamin B-12 is an essential vitamin important for the production of red blood cells. It also helps raise your energy levels, aids digestion and increases the levels of energy in your body. By taking 2.4 micrograms a day, adults can help their body metabolize fats and optimize nutrient absorption from food. Natural sources of Vitamin B-12 include fish like salmon and cod, sunflower seeds, almonds, poultry with skins and bones removed and beans.
Vitamins that increase metabolic rate also transport oxygen to the cells, tissues and organs. They also convert fats, carbohydrates and protein into energy. Vitamin B-5 helps in this purpose. The adult daily requirement for this vitamin is only 5 mg daily. Aside from supplements, it can be taken from such sources as low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt and broccoli.
Vitamin B-2 is another vitamin that increases metabolic rate. Besides converting fats and proteins into energy, it also helps stimulate red blood cell production and removes accumulated toxins in the body. Adults can take about 1.3 mg a day from supplements or from various sources such as whole grain cereals, cheese, kale, spinach and low-fat milk.
One of the most powerful vitamins discovered as of yet is Vitamin C. It strengthens the immune system and fights free radicals that wreck damage to the body's cells. It also helps the body absorb iron so that oxygen can be smoothly transported to the cells, tissues and organs of the body. These processes help regulate the body's metabolic rate. Most fruits have high Vitamin C content. Oranges, strawberries, cranberries and pineapples in particular are chockfull of this important vitamin. The recommended daily allowance for this vitamin is 75 mg to 90 mg, but most adults pop in a 500 mg Vitamin C tablet to help the body fight the stress and toxins encountered day-to-day.
If you are an athlete preparing for competition, you have most likely felt the need for more energy to enable you to give your best in the sport you are currently engaged in. Athlete sports nutrition is an important factor in any physical performance and the correct intake of all the necessary nutrients, vitamins and minerals pave the way for a more energetic routine. While we normally think of athletes as only those who compete in games, you can also consider yourself an athlete if you regularly engage in physical fitness routines. When you do workouts, you will need to expend more energy, and as such would need to eat more food to fuel your activities. However, eating anything won't do. There are some guidelines you need to follow for maximum results.
Here are some tips for boosting your athletic performance through sports nutrition.
1. Consume more fats. Approximately 20%-25% of your energy should come from fats. Consuming less than this amount will make you lag behind and you will not reach your maximum potential in terms of performance.
2. Eat before and after every strenuous exercise session. Doing this allows your body to self-regulate and control your sugar levels. When you exercise, your body burns a lot of energy. You should replenish what was lost by eating foods that are good sources of energy. Sugar is a good source of energy and as such this helps you maximize your sports performance.
3. Drink a lot of fluids during and after every strenuous activity. Rigorous physical activity saps your body fluids and you need to regularly replace it to prevent dehydration. You are also likely to experience stroke when you have fluid deficiencies so increase your water intake during heavy exercises. You can also drink fruit juices or protein shakes. Fruit drinks do not only provide you with the fluids that you need it also gives you other important nutrients.
4. Plan your every meal. This is a crucial part of athlete sports nutrition. Make sure that you eat a balanced diet. Increase your protein, carbohydrates and vitamin intake. Eat fruits and vegetables. They are a good source vitamins and minerals. You can also have lean meat for protein. Take oral vitamins to supplement what you cannot get from the foods that you eat.
5. Regulate your salt and sugar intake. Too much salt makes you retain more water thereby slowing you down On the other hand too much sugar causes a spike in your insulin levels to significantly slow down your metabolic rate. is As a consequence your performance is also affected.
6. Never fast when you are competing. Fasting deprives you of the necessary nutrients and energy which is what you need in all sports activities. The more intensive your workout is, the more food you should eat.
7. A discomfort or a stinging pain in your stomach area usually indicates too much fiber in your food. Make sure that you do not consume more than what is necessary.
Good and balanced nutrition is integral for a well-balanced and healthy diet. Whether you're an athlete preparing for your next competition or an exercise buff who needs to fuel up for your workout sessions, following the above mentioned guidelines for athlete sports nutrition is integral to maximum performance.