Professional athletes spend many hours training their bodies, specifically their muscles, to run faster, jump higher, or increasing their agility. All of those hours in the gym may be wasted however if the athlete has a poor diet.
Eating either too many calories in a day or too few can make an athlete feel sluggish while performing. Not eating a balanced proportion protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and fluids can also have a negative effect on athletes. An imbalanced diet can impede performance, decrease the ability to build muscle, and decrease overall endurance.
Working with a nutritionist is highly recommended for all professional athletes. The nutritionist will then create a strict diet plan which the athlete will need to adhere with as much self discipline as s/he does while competing. If the athlete gives an honest effort at this strict diet plan, their overall performance will most likely improve.
The number of calories an athlete should consumer in a day is dependent on a variety of factors including age, height, sex, weight, weight loss goals, and number of calories burned per day during workouts. Calories should be consumer every several hours. Breakfast is a very important aspect of maintaining energy levels because it is the first meal you consumer after a seven or eight period without caloric intake.
Any old calories will not do, athletes need to consume the right kind of calories in order to improve their overall optimal performance. Foods that are high in nutrients such as milk, peanut butter, and whole grain breads are all nutritious foods and good choices for snacks.
The largest part of an athlete’s diet should be carbohydrates, which are responsible for the body’s main energy source that affects both stamina and endurance. Carbohydrates should be a particular concern for endurance athletes who need stores of energy to last for hours during competition. Good sources of carbohydrates include whole grain pasta and bread, starchy vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, and corn, and also fruit. Consuming the wrong types of carbohydrates, coming mainly from processed and sugary foods, will result in sluggishness and a decrease in performance.
Protein is also very important to the athlete because it works to build and repair muscle tissue and shorter bursts of energy. When you consume too much protein however, the body will store it as fat. Healthy sources of protein come from lean meat, fish, and legumes.
The proper amount of fluid intake is essential for all athletes to prevent dehydration, injury, and fatigue. Fluids are lost whenever an athlete exercises, which is why it is so important to drink plenty of water after a workout. Drinking caffeine and sugary drinks can also have the opposite effect, causing further dehydration. It is recommended that most people should drink 8-10 glasses of water per day. This number may need to be increased for athletes, especially after workouts or competitions.
Finally, vitamins such as calcium and iron are essential to all athletes. These two vitamins alone are responsible for carrying oxygen in the blood and keeping bones strong. Both of these vitamins are essential for an athlete’s performance and to prevent injury. Good sources of iron are found in red meat, shrimp, and bread. Good sources of calcium are found in most dairy products, leafy green vegetables, and calcium fortified supplements.
By maintaining a balanced diet and eating a proportionate amount of calories per day will ensure an athlete’s optimal performance. The diet is second only to training in achieving desired performance results. Without the proper diet, the athlete will suffer. An imbalanced diet could lead to injuries, unwanted weight loss/weight gain, and an overall sluggishness.