When you are already in the prime of health, your agenda is to keep it kicking and to maintain the highest standards of health and fitness. Your dietary needs must match up to these standards so that you can achieve all that you aspire for and reach out for more – which is where sport nutrition for health and performance kicks in! Athlete, gym freak or just a fitness fanatic, sports nutrition has something for all.
Sport Nutrition for Health and Performance
A balanced diet for athletes encompasses high intake of carbohydrates, fats and proteins with a focus on optimum hydration. The reason for this dietary mix is obvious – you will need more calories than the average person which is why you need a high amount of carbohydrates.
Fatty acids from fats and sports supplements also provide energy, especially if your physical activity sessions last longer than an hour. In addition to being storehouses of energy, fats act as building blocks for hormones and help in the formation of cell walls.
Owing to recurrent muscle tears during your exercise sessions, the inclusion of natural proteins or whey protein supplements in your diet become critical. Also if you are engaged in a physical activity for longer than one hour, sports drinks that include electrolytes can be helpful.
Here’s a little extra information on health and nutrition to help you understand the basics of sports nutrition.
Carbohydrate-Rich Nutrition for Healthy Living
Get your sugars from foods in which they occur naturally, such as unprocessed cane sugar, as these contain fibre and important nutrients. You can swap natural food for carbohydrate-rich nutritional health supplements.
Complex carbohydrates, which include grains such as multigrain rotis, unpolished rice etc help you feel full and also release energy gradually, helping you sustain your workouts for longer. Unprocessed/ unrefined grains are what you should reach out for and white rice and white flour should be avoided as much as possible.
Why Recommended Nutrition for Healthy Living Contains Fat
Fats help the body absorb essential vitamins and nutrients and are also a great source of energy. Certain naturally-occurring varieties of food, such as eggs, fatty fish, avocados, nuts, cheese, and so on are rich in fats. However, you can also get your share from energy supplements.
Needless to say though, the intake of fats needs to be monitored. Try to increase your intake of unsaturated fats which are considered to be heart healthy, can work to lower your LDL cholesterol levels and raise your HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
Unsaturated fats are usually found in avocados, olives, nuts and oily fish. They are considered to be heart healthy, can work to lower your LDL cholesterol levels and raise your HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
Protein for Mass, Muscle, and Repair
Protein is critical for building and repairing tissues when undergoing rigorous exercise, and also aids in the functioning of enzymes and hormones. Proteins are important as building blocks of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood.
Meat, fish, eggs, pulses, nuts, seeds and soya are good sources of protein. Alternatively, bodybuilding supplements also contain massive doses of protein.
All You Need to Know About the Best Sports Nutrition Supplements
Carefully dosed sports supplements may also be used to boost strength, performance and recovery. Multivitamins, minerals, protein, creatine and various other ‘ergogenic’ aids constitute sports supplements. It is advisable to consult an accredited sports dietitian or a registered nutritionist who specialises in sports nutrition before starting the use of supplements. Common sports supplements include:
Healthy Food Packed with Creatine
Creatine exists in the form of an energized compound that is capable of accumulating energy. This energy is steadily released as and when the body demands it.
It is produced within the body, occurs naturally in fish and meat and can also be taken as sports supplements. Creatine is especially useful when you exercise for long hours at high-intensity as it boosts performance.
Whey Protein Products for Muscle Damage
Whey protein is a natural protein present in milk—and whey protein supplements—containing very little fat, carbohydrate or lactose. Whey protein also contains what is known as a branched- chain of amino acids (BCAAs), which assist with repairing and rebuilding lean muscle tissue. It is absorbed quickly and can provide instantaneous nourishment to the muscles.
Food for Thought: Do Energy Drinks Meet Nutritional Requirements for Sports Persons
Energy drinks, which are categorized as sports supplements, are rich in electrolytes such as potassium and sodium. These elements stimulate thirst and push you to drink more whilst improving the body’s water retention threshold. Quite a few brands have added carbohydrates to their products for that extra energy boost when you need it the most.
Energy drinks can be substituted with milk which is enriched with vitamins, minerals, nutrients, electrolytes and many more. Such a blend qualifies it as an excellent, natural post-workout drink.
Keep in mind though, that intake of supplements which surpass your actual dietary requirements is actually detrimental in the long run. Health risks include: dehydration, gout, calcium loss, liver, renal damage, diarrhoea, bloating, and water loss, among others.
Endurance is key to any physical activity; it’s the fuel if you’re a Ferrari. You have some in you already, you just need to fill up your tank with the right diet, exercise, and lifestyle. Go on then, punch it!