They say that great artists are made, not born. The same could also be said for athletes. Of course, genetics plays a large part in differentiating a good athlete from a sports champion, but to be able to attain that legendary status in the Hall of Fame, an aspiring sportsman must go through the strictest of diets that will help shape and strengthen the physique.
Nutrition breaks down into hydration, carbohydrates, proteins, and fat. The ratio can vary depending on the specific sport. For example a power lifter might require more protein while an ultra endurance marathoner requires a lot of carbohydrates and water — possibly even more fat than one might expect. But we will discuss the specific ratios for another time.
By drinking sufficient amounts of water and consuming a balanced diet, the body can generate a lot of energy which will greatly help in boosting for top athletic performance.
What are the factors to be considered in designing a complete and healthy natural sports nutrition program?
One of the most important thing in natural sports nutrition is water. The significance of water can never be discounted because the human body is composed of sixty percent of it, and the body cannot function without water. Sufficient water intake is essential because the body must replace the water it uses and eliminates.
Here are some helpful reminders to maintain proper hydration:
- Instead of slugging humongous amounts of water in infrequent sittings, drink small portions in frequent durations.
- Cold beverages aid the body in cooling down body temperature, therefore cutting down the amount of sweating.
- One should drink 2-3 cups of water for every pound that the body losses after exercising.
Sources of Fuel (Food)
A balanced diet is another must for natural sports nutrition. Athletes must acquire the perfect combination of calories that can be consumed from protein, carbohydrates and fats. Each of which is critical for creating the energy athletes require.
Carbohydrates are the most important fuel source, which can be found in foods such as breads, pastas, rice, fruits, veggies and cereals. These foods can supply the body about seventy percent of the needed daily calories. Carbs provide the body the power and endurance it needs for short-duration activities that involve maximum level of intensity. This fuel comes from the energy given by sugar and starches that the body converts.
Here are strategies to maximize the potential of carbs:
- Start loading up on carbs at least several days before prior to the competition.
- Carbs should be consumed in greater amounts in the duration of activities that lasts more than one hour to fend off the onset of fatigue.
Another important piece in natural sports nutrition is proteins. Athletes should eat plenty of healthy proteins. Most people will immediately thing athletes need a lot of dairy, eggs, meats, fish and chicken. But most forget the plant-based proteins including nuts, beans, and lentils. In fact, many believe vegetarians cannot get sufficient protein — it is simply untrue. But we will cover vegetarian protein sources another time too. Protein supplies as much as fifteen percent of calories in the body. To determine the amount of protein needed by an athlete, the following factors should be considered: his fitness level, the type of exercise along with its duration and intensity, and his overall carb and calorie intake.
The last fuel source that is important for natural sports nutrition is fats. There are two natural forms of fat: saturated and unsaturated. Trans fat is man-made and just plain bad for you. Although fat is a significant component in nutrition, the intake of fats should be closely monitored. Too much consumption of fats may lead to major health problems such as cancer and heart disease.