Nutrition for AthletesProper nutrition is an essential part of living a healthy life; this is even truer when considering nutrition for athletes. Athletes who are more active or are engaged in a sport need to have a well-balanced diet. Including the proper nutrition that the body needs will help you stay healthy and energized. Today, obtaining proper nutrition for an athlete is not difficult to achieve; with the help of scientists and nutritionists, there is a wide variety of nutrition plans and nutrition programs to choose from. Without the adequate nutrition, athletes can develop various diseases, and also run the risk of poor performance on the field, court or athletic event.Why is proper nutrition for athletes important?The main reason why athletes should find a nutrition program is so that they can stay healthy and prevent injuries. Recent research reports that injuries are more prevalent during the last 20-30 minutes of a game; this is because during this time the body is more fatigued and the mind becomes less concentrated. A healthy diet can help athletes build endurance not only physically, but mentally as well. Staying focused and energized throughout a game or an event can help prevent injuries.Another important reason to obtain proper nutrition is to enhance your overall performance. Despite of all the training and skills received, the only way for an athlete to reach his or her full potential is by nourishing and fueling the body. By eating healthy meals full of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, athletes can provide their body with the adequate energy source to perform well.What should healthy nutrition for athletes include?Athletes should consider consuming a healthy diet that includes the following;Carbohydrates – Since they provide up to 50% of the energy source, carbohydrates should definitely be on top of the nutrition plan list. The more active a person is the more carbohydrates the body will use. Including proper amounts of carbohydrates in your diet will aid in your performance and strength.Water – As most know, water is necessary for life. Being well-hydrated is crucial for all human beings especially athletes. Becoming even slightly dehydrated can be extremely dangerous while you’re active. Water is needed to regulate your body temperature and protect your health.Fats – Like carbohydrates, fats are also a good source of energy. While fat is typically only used after one hour of performance, an adequate amount of fat should be included in an athlete’s diet. Lack of fat consumption can highly affect your physical activity.Protein – Once carbohydrates and fats have been used, the body will search for proteins as an alternative energy source. When extra protein is consumed, the body stores it as fat and uses it when energy is necessary.Vitamins & Minerals – Riboflavin, thiamin, and niacin are three important vitamins that should be included in an athlete’s nutritional regimen. These vitamins are required in order for the body to produce energy.How can you obtain the proper nutrition?Most people don’t have the time or patience to build their own nutrition plan. That is why special nutrition programs for athletes have been developed. These nutrition plans are made especially to help athletes improve their performance as well as their overall health. Athletes should always be careful to provide their body with the nutrients it needs to succeed.
For the best nutritional health and benefits from the foods that you eat, it is important to become educated about their nutrients and properties. This is necessary for you to understand how to create the best anti-inflammatory and properly balanced diet – and to be able to understand and evaluate nutrition labels and any health claims made on the packaging of the foods.So, we have 2 issues to consider:(1) misconceptions about the way different foods you eat might affect you nutritionally(2) possibly misleading nutritional value from things not picked up on the nutrition label, or from the way a company might market its productsEating Fat Does Not Make You FatOne of the biggest misconceptions about food and nutritional health is with regards to fats – and that all fats are bad, or you need to stop eating fats because they will make you fat This is just not the case any more than categorically saying that protein or carbohydrates make you fat – you become overweight from any food if you are eating too many more calories than you are using, and you become fat from the way your body and cells store the foods that you eat.Fats are both necessary for metabolism and other functions, and can be very beneficial as natural anti-inflammatories. The problem comes from the kind of fats you eat; there are good fats and bad fats. The fats in your diet that are most often discussed are the omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids.If you are typical of most Westerners, you are eating 15 to as much as 30 times more omega-6 than omega-3 in your diet. This is something that is very nutritionally unhealthy, because the imbalance is highly inflammatory – and yes, eating too much of these fats are going to lead to being overweight and increased fat content.And do note that eating fats does not cause increased amounts of insulin, which is a primary cause for fat storage – making eating the same amount of sugars like high-fructose corn syrup which does cause more insulin to be produced, a far big problem for fat cells to be stored.Misleading Nutritional Claims On Labels And Food PackagesThere are many situations where a food nutrition label is misleading, and the same goes with different nutritional claims that may be used [intentionally] when marketing and promoting a product – below are a few examples of this:(1) Products labeled as being sugar-free and having no calories, but it contains carbohydrates. This is something that I saw when looking at a no calorie sports drink. I wouldn’t drink it anyway because it was sweetened with Splenda, which is also when I saw that it had 4 grams of carbohydrate per serving.It may not have calories from sugar, but carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram, or 16 calories per serving. Not that big of a deal, until you drink 4 bottles because you like the taste better than water, which is 8 servings – and now you have 128 of extra ‘empty’ calories that you weren’t aware of.(2) Product claims that it is ‘extra’ nutritionally healthy because it has omega-3 added. This seems to be the claim de jour these days, and seems to have become even more prevalent than probiotics being added to everything.If you have been working to balance your omega-6:omega-3 intake and adopting a nutritionally health anti-inflammatory diet, you know that there are different types of omega-3 fats. And you know that the primary nutritional health benefits come from omega-3 DHA EPA, because these are such strong natural anti-inflammatories – and that the best source for this is the oil from cold water fish or green lipped mussels.However, the omega-3 being added is typically omega-3 ALA from a plant source, and this has virtually no anti-inflammatory properties. And the product could be a breakfast cereal that is using this ‘omega-3 added for extra nutrition’ marketing claim to get you buy it for your kids – saying nothing that one of the highest quantity ingredients is high fructose corn syrup that you definitely don’t want your kids eating.Not only is this a product that isn’t additionally healthy because it omega-3 has been added, it is very unhealthy because this is the worst sugar for fat storage, and a primary cause for child obesity.(3) Product claims that it is ‘extra’ nutritionally healthy because it has probiotics added. I mentioned this one above, and a great example of this misleading claim is Dannon paying a large false advertising lawsuit settlement fee, because they claimed that the probiotics added to their Activia and DanActive yogurt made it far better for digestive health than ‘regular’ yogurt.Probiotics added to yogurt and nutritional health benefits are always an issue, because there are no requirements or standards for what has to be added to call it a probiotic food. An additional problem comes from the probiotics being added to a pasteurized food, because for the probiotics to be beneficial they must be live cultures, and the heat used in pasteurization is going to kill most [all] of them.And since this is another product that may be using this nutritional claim to market to your children, the yogurt also has more sugar added to it to make it taste better – and as discussed previously, the sugar is going to offset any of the health benefits with an unhealthy problem.There are many other examples of these kinds of problems. And the best way to avoid then is through learning more about nutritional health benefits in foods, so you will not be making dietary decisions based on misconceptions – and especially so you will be able to understand the foods nutrition labels better, and also see through the different marketing claims that just aren’t going to provide their supposed health benefits.