Sports Nutrition for Better Workouts
I believe exercise is one of the great gifts in the world today. It’s healthy, it’s energizing, and it helps us to feel and look our very best. So shouldn’t we do everything we can to get the most out of our workouts? How many of us actually know that what we ate last night and this morning can have a huge impact on the quality of our workout today? Yes, it’s true, sports nutrition can ensure your diet will efficiently fuel your exercise — and not slow it down.
Here’s a look at the parts of a training diet designed to optimize athletic performance:
• Fluids help maintain normal body temperature and deliver energy and nutrients to muscles; this is important because well-hydrated athletes can perform better and longer.
• Carbohydrate is the fuel of choice for all athletes because it is the most readily available fuel source for working muscles.
• Protein is essential for increasing muscle mass and strength, and for better recovery from prolonged or intense exercise.
• Vitamins and minerals don’t provide energy, but they’re essential for converting the food you eat into energy your muscles can use.
Timing the consumption of your food and drink throughout exercise can improve hydration, energy, recovery, and the quality of your workouts. Following this sports nutrition regimen before, during, and after workouts can help you to get the most out of your training.
BEFORE: The American College of Sports Medicine recommends prehydrating with 2–3 cups of fluids in the hours before exercise. Carbohydrate-rich foods such as pasta, salads, fruits, and sports bars should be eaten two to four hours before exercise, and you should consider topping off your fuel stores with a high-carbohydrate nutritional shake as little as an hour before your event.
DURING: Continue hydrating with at least a half cup of water or sports drink every 15 to 30 minutes during exercise. For longer events, consider easily digested high-carbohydrate foods, including gels, bars, bagels, and bananas.
AFTER: Make sure to consume fluids, carbohydrate, and protein immediately after exercise to maximize hydration, muscle refueling, muscle repair, and muscle rebuilding. The right blend of carbohydrate and protein after exercise can enhance the recovery process, especially in those who workout daily.
Sports nutrition helps me feel fit and healthy every day, and I know it can help anyone who really wants to make their workouts count.