How important is proper nutrition for athletes?

Appropriate nutrition is an integral facet to athletic performance. Athletes who aim for higher performance in their field of sport should consume nutritional value in relative to their activities.

A quality diet with right nutrition such as vitamins, minerals, protein, calories and water will help supply the energy needed to carry out the activities. The intake of these calories needs to scientifically be planned in a structured manner and should contain in-depth details on how athletes should fuel themselves prior, during and after training/matches to get optimal sports performance. It is of vital importance that any athlete chooses for themselves the best sports nutrition plan.

Athletes require energy to carry out their activities. They source the required energy either directly or indirectly from the foods that they eat. Macronutrients like Carbohydrates, proteins & fats are direct source of energy, whereas micronutrients like minerals and vitamins are vital for producing energy for the body.

Proteins are broken down into amino acids and one such amino acid known as creatine can help optimize athletic performance. Creatine facilitates the production of energy during training and enhances recovery post physical activity. Proteins are essential for cell growth and repairs and are required by athletes to repair and strengthen the muscle tissues post strenuous physical activity.

It also helps in carbohydrate storage optimization. When there is shortage of carbohydrate in the body, it utilizes protein as a source of fuel to carry out physical activities. When an athlete is involved in extreme physical activity, the muscle tissues in the body becomes the source of energy because of insufficient intake of carbs and fats. Therefore protein intake needs to be balanced to make up for the lost protein.

Carbohydrates are the main source of fuel for exercising muscles and play an important role in athletes training and performance. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose and are stored in the body as glycogen. During exercise/ physical activity the glycogen levels in the body depletes which affects stamina, endurance, energy levels and performance.

Therefore proper intake carbohydrates need to be maintained based on sports and training schedule. Carbohydrates are crucial for utilizing fat as source of energy. It also prevents protein from being utilized as source of energy thereby help body to develop and maintain tissues.

During prolonged physical activities fats are utilized as a source of fuel. Many athletes have myths and fear about intake of fats, but fats are largest reserve of the energy in the human body. Fats can release higher amount of energy at a much quicker speed than other nutrients. Fats are beneficial for longer and low intensity activities as for short period activities it becomes calories that are less available to the athletes.

Vitamins are essential for energy production and tissue & bone synthesization. Lack of vitamins can affect metabolic balance in the body. Minerals are another essential micronutrient with for sports performance with special attention on iron and calcium.

Iron functions as an oxygen carrier in the blood and if iron levels are low, muscles will not get sufficient oxygen to support exertion induced from physical activity and leads to production of lactic acid in the body. Due to this athletes might ended up feeling fatigue & pain in the muscles, have poor appetite & high resting pulse rate.

High iron levels will help athletes to recover faster and be able to perform physical activities without requiring too much of resting period. To withstand demands of strenuous physical activity, adequate calcium levels need to be maintained in the body so that bones don’t become fragile and vulnerable to fractures.

Hydration is another key element in nutrition for optimal sports performance. Water helps control body temperature and lubricates joints. It helps supply nutrients to provide energy and keep one healthy.

Human body is made up of 50-60 % of water. During physical activities, athletes tend to lose 1-2% of body weight in sweat and if athletes are not hydrated well, their body can’t perform at its optimal level. They may have muscle cramps, feel dizziness & tiredness. It can also lead to other serious symptoms.

Athletes invest huge hours of their time in training and engaging in various physical activities to prepare their body to excel in sports performance. It is important for athletes to follow a best diet plan in order to keep their body well nourished to support their athletic endeavors and to ensure that hardwork did on the field is not subjected to waste.

Athletes who eat right food, in right quantity, at right time and in accordance to the requirement of their sports & training are equipped to achieve their optimal performance level, hence athletes should opt for customized approach towards nutrition. The championships ranging from grassroots level to the elite level in any sport is the result of eating right.

At QUA Nutrition we work on counseling individuals and group/team nutrition counselling for performance and stamina, translating the latest scientific research in the field of Sports nutrition science and into practical implementable recommendations, tracking and documenting outcomes of the nutrition services, monitoring the athlete’s intake and response and feedback for coaches, trainers, and parents.

Call us on 9743430000 or visit us www.quanutrition.com to change the way you fuel. Change to the way the best athlete’s fuel.

Ryan Fernando is an Award-winning celebrity Sports Nutritionist with 2GUINNESS world record and 2 Olympic medals under his belt. His client list include Olympic wrestler Sushil Kumar, cricketer Shikhar Dhawan & bollywood superstars Aamir Khan & Abhishek Bachchan. He is Chief Nutritionist at QUA Nutrition Signature Clinics.

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