The right diet is essential for athletic ability regardless of the sport in question. Be it a high energy sport like football or tennis or a relatively relaxing activity like swimming, the food we eat goes a long way in determining how well we perform. This is true not just for those who are professional athletes but even for the common man interested in improving his physical ability and health. There are a lot of guides available in the market and on the internet about the latest dietary fad that can describe how well a person can improve his sporting ability through nutrition but most of them are misleading and can be quite useless.
This blogpost focuses on the right nutrition to enhance sports performance and it outlines 10 steps which can act as a guide for beginners so that they can later expand on it or add their own nutrition plans or even consult with healthcare professionals and modify the plan. The post is mainly meant for novice practitioners but can also be of use to people who follow more advanced exercise plans and already have the right training in place to aid them in the enhancement of their sporting ability.
- The right diet for the athlete in you:
An athlete’s diet should have at least 55% carbohydrates, 12 to 15% protein and less than 30% of fat. This is the standard combination prescribed by nutrition experts currently after decades of peer-reviewed scientific literature suggested a combination on more or less the same percentages. Athletes should also minimize the intake of fried and oily food, biscuits, cakes, pastries and chips. These can be quite detrimental to their performance on the field and their health off the field. The advice is quite generic but it is still effective.
- Carbs and Exercises:
During the process of digestion, all carbohydrates are broken down into sugar – which is the primary source of energy to the body and glucose which comes from sugar can be converted into glycogen and stored in liver and muscle tissue. Athletes can gradually increase stores of glycogen by gradually eating foods which are high in carbohydrates. The consumption of carbohydrates is directly proportional to the energy levels the athlete has therefore its vital to pay attention to the carbs you consume and burn up throughout the day. Think of it as the fuel to your engine.
- The following table illustrates the requisite amount of carbohydrate consumption for your body so that you can maintain your fitness:
|Exercise 30 mins/day||3–5 g/kg/day|
|Exercise for an hour||5–7 g/kg/day|
|Endurance exercise (more than an hour)||6–10 g/kg/day|
|Extreme endurance exercise (more than 4 hrs/day)||8–12 g/kg/day|
- The Glycemic Index:
The glycemic index is a scale that ranks food and fluids by their carbohydrate richness and how they affect the body’s blood sugar levels. There is still a lot of noise around GI research but surveys are suggesting that moderate to high GI foods are the best for athletes.
- Food during exercise:
If your exercise lasts more than an hour, carbohydrates are vital to top up your blood glucose levels and this is especially important that the amount of carbohydrates you consume gets used up appropriately in your exercise. It is vital for the energy consumption and expenditure to be balanced in order to perform on the field and also maintain a fit routine wherein the athlete does not feel fatigue or have the constant need to munch on snacks throughout his exercise routine to keep himself strong.
- Eating post exercise:
The glycogen consumed during the exercise must also be quickly broken down post exercise in order to maintain the energy levels and put the diet into effective action . Moderate to high carbohydrate foods are vital in this activity and athletes should pay attention to how much they consume particularly after an intense hour of exercise or any other high activity sport. The breakdown of glycogen stores is vital to keep the body fit as a fiddle and many dietary experts recommend that this is the stage where the diet becomes most important and our attention to it must be focused.
- Protein and sporting performance:
Proteins are vital for sporting performance especially with sports that require a lot of intense leg work say soccer. Proteins keep the body fit and repair after an intense session of exercise and thus it is vital for athletes as well as the general public to consume the right amount of protein in order to maintain their energy level throughout the exercise session as well as for the rest of their day to day activity. Proteins can be a very important source of energy for athletes especially during games that can go on for more than an hour as they help the body in endurance.
- Amino Acids and other supplements:
The role of amino acids and other supplements have been increasingly becoming prominent in their importance to nutrition especially for endurance sports. Amino acids are vital to complement the protein and carbohydrate intake and at times can even make up for the deficiency of the two components in the body. Thus athletes should pay attention to amino acids and in what foods they consume them throughout the day. The more the better for the body as well as for their sport.
- Vitamin Supplements:
Vitamin supplements are naturally a very good addendum to the protein and carbohydrate/amino acid intake of the body. Vitamin supplements can be very useful especially to avoid fatigue and burnout. This is becoming increasingly common for professionals and athletes today and its very important to focus on the right amount of vitamin supplements we ingest because they can be quite effective in keeping us in shape and also extract the maximum benefit from our exercise. This is especially true given how hectic modernity has become and how difficult it is for people to pay attention to the food they eat.
- Water: This is the most basic and fundamental element in the entire diet. The amount of water you drink is very important in keeping your body replenished and it avoids the body from becoming dry particularly after an intense exercise session. Lots of water intake is good for health and it is also useful in terms of cooling the muscles and the body because sporting exercises usually generate a lot of heat and the body can become quite burnt out from all the activity. Water consumption is vital even for the layman who might not be an intense athlete as well.
BFY Sports and Fitness has diet counselling and specialized sports and fitness e-clinics which can be the perfect tool to launch your diet plans on and also serve as a guidepost for you to perform and improve your skills in the sport you play. BFY’s sports and fitness e-clinic caters to a wide range of dietary needs from endurance sport to athletes who are beginning to build up their routines. Do visit our website (http://www.bfydiets.com ) to learn more about the right diet for you and its impact on your sporting performance.