sports nutrition

Athletes who want a winning edge should get the right nutrition. When you drink enough water and eat a balanced diet, your body can make energy efficiently and fuel top performance. You can make the most of your athletic talents and gain more strength, power and endurance when you train. Base your diet on a variety of factors including your age, size and physical condition; and the type of exercise you are doing. See your doctor for individualized nutrition advice.


Water is the most important factor in sports nutrition. It makes up about 60 percent of body weight and is involved in almost every bodily process. Your body cannot make or store water, so you must replace what you eliminate (i.e., urine, sweat). Everyone should drink at least two quarts (eight cups) of water each day, and athletes need more. Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after sports events to stay hydrated and avoid overheating. When you workout or compete, especially in hot weather, try to closely match the amount of fluid you drink with the amount you lose to sweat. Fuel sources

Eating a balanced diet is another key to sports nutrition. The right combination of fuel (calories) from carbohydrates, proteins and fats gives you energy for top performance. Carbohydrates. The most important fuel source, carbohydrates come in fruits, vegetables, pastas, breads, cereals, rice and other foods, and should provide about 60-70 percent of daily calories. Your body converts sugars and starches in carbohydrates to energy (glucose) or stores it in the liver and muscle tissues (glycogen), giving you endurance and power for high-intensity, short-duration activities.

If your body runs out of carbohydrate fuel during exercise, it will burn fat and protein for energy, causing your performance level to drop. This can happen if you start exercising without much muscle glycogen, exercise heavily for more than an hour without eating more carbohydrates, do repeated high-intensity, short-duration exercises or participate in multiple events or training sessions in a single day. Use a carbohydrate strategy to stay energized and perform at your best:

Pre-competition nutrition

What you eat several days before endurance activities affects performance. Your food the morning of a sports competition can ward off hunger, keep blood sugar levels adequate and aid hydration. Avoid high protein or high fat foods on the day of an event, as these can stress the kidneys and take a long time to digest. Empty your upper bowel by competition time.

Carbohydrate loading

To avoid running out of carbohydrates for energy, some endurance athletes like long-distance runners, swimmers and bicyclists load their muscles with glycogen by eating extra carbohydrates in combination with doing depletion exercises several days before an event.

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