Author: Faye Brown
If you are an athlete you know that good athlete nutrition is essential. It’s not something you can just brush aside, saying, “Today I’ll be healthy, tomorrow I’m going to throw it all to the wind.” Good nutrition is as vital to your athletic performance as practicing, and when you learn the secret to good nutrition you’ll be able to enjoy improvements in your athletic performance that you never thought were possible!
The key steps to athlete nutrition:
1) If you’re thirsty, it’s already too late. Dehydration is the number one nutritional killer of most athletes’ performance, because they don’t drink enough water through the day. Not drinking enough water will leave you feeling sluggish and sleepy, and when you’re an athlete involved in a sport where every second counts you know that a few minutes of feeling sluggish and sleepy can completely ruin your performance.
Although most doctors recommend you drink six to eight glasses of water a day, that amount actually varies from person to person. The best thing you can do is cut other drinks out of your diet and drink water all day long. Remember, if your body is so dehydrated that you feel thirsty, it’s already too late.
2) Take your vitamins. Vitamin and mineral supplements are a key element in athlete nutrition, since the constant demands placed on their body burn those vitamins up faster than the average individual. Talk with your coach and your physician to see what supplements are right for you.
3) Enjoy your carbs! Although the Atkins diet has instilled a deathly fear of carbs into a huge percentage of the population, the bottom line is that your body gets its energy from its carbohydrates. As an athlete, you need that energy to keep going; as an individual, you need those carbs to replace what you burn throughout the day.
4) Keep your meat lean. There’s nothing wrong with a nice, juicy steak every once in a while, but good athlete nutrition hinges on keeping the body at a cutting edge. Lean meats are much more effective for that purpose. Remember, however, that your body craves protein as well. As an athlete your daily protein requirements may be higher than many other individuals who live more sedentary lives.
5) Avoid sweets. Sweets and sugary drinks will dehydrate you and slow you down. That’s the last thing you need! If you can, cut these sweets out of your diet completely. If you can’t, indulge in moderation. Remember, there’s a vast difference between a small slice of cake at your cousin’s wedding reception and an entire apple pie devoured in front of “I Love Lucy” re-runs!
Good athlete nutrition is a vital part of staying on top of your game. Sit down with your coach and your physician as soon as possible to work out a detailed diet plan just for you to have you at your peak athletic performance. You’ll be surprised at the difference a little change can make!