Healthy nutrition is essential for athletes who are into some extreme physical activities. A balanced and healthy diet with the right proportions of carbs, proteins, and fats will give athletes the much-needed energy and endurance to athletes. Endurance athletes need to have enough intake of variety of foods for better and enhanced usage of glycogen stores and better performance.
Whether you are a young or old athlete, or a school or community athlete, or a neophyte or elite athlete, here are some useful diet tips for you:
- Take carbohydrates because it is your main source of energy and are transformed into glucose which are stored in the muscles in the form of glycogen, so that when you exercise your body will convert glycogen into energy. Exercising for less than 90 minutes can fuel your extreme high-intensity activity through the day.
- To get the optimum carbohydrate storage, health experts suggest following a diet that gets for about 70% of the calories from the carbohydrates that includes the fruits and vegetables, pasta, breads, and cereals.
- On the big event, you must eat your last three meals four hours before exercising to give your stomach time to empty itself.
- Do away with sugary and starchy foods within 30 minutes before any physical activity. Remember that metabolizing carbohydrates utilizes water which can speed up dehydration.
- For physical activities that can last for more than 90 minutes, it is essential to replenish carbohydrates, water, and minerals during the exercises. Health experts even suggest a snack and fluid every 15 minutes. Some athletes choose sports bars, gels, or sports drinks because of the convenience these can give them. We recommend fruits or fruit juice.
- Remember that protein is not a main source of energy but it is essential to maintain good muscle tissues. An athlete may need up to about 1.7 grams for each kilogram of body weight and that is for about 150 grams of protein for a 200-pounder athlete.
- Joy Dubost, RD, says that milk is one of the best foods to recover from an extreme physical activity because it supplies you with a good balance of proteins and carbohydrates. Milk has casein and whey protein where whey protein is easily absorbed into the body while casein is digested slowly to ensure a long-term recovery of muscles after an extreme physical activity. We all know that milk is packed with calcium which is good to maintain stronger bones. But too much protein can be stressful for the kidneys so instead of taking supplements, Dubost recommends eating quality protein like fish, milk, nuts, lean meats, eggs, and poultry.
- For longer physical events like marathon, the body turns to the fats for endurance and energy when carbohydrates reach its low level. We recommend, therefore, to eat unsaturated fats from avocados, vegetable oils, nuts, fatty fish, and olives. But avoid these fatty foods during the big event because they can strain the stomach.
On Taking Fluids:
- Extreme exercises and physical activities, especially during summer, can dehydrate you easily, and as a result will affect your performance and worst, can become life-threatening. Josua Evans, MD, suggests monitoring the color of your urine. A pale yellow means that you have enough fluid but bright yellow or dark urine means that you are getting short of fluids in the body.
- It is recommended that for extreme and longer period of activities like marathon runners, you have to take for about 8 to 12 ounces of fluid for every 10 minutes during the event. Drink chilled fluids because they are absorbed easily compared to room-temperature water.
On the Lost Electrolytes:
- Sweating can cause loss of body fluids and electrolytes. Electrolytes help in the transmission of nerve signals into your body. To replenish the lost electrolytes, health experts recommend diluting sports drinks with same amount or quantity of water to have the best balance of fluids and electrolytes.