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Sports Nutrition, Fuel, and Hydration for The Amateur and The Elites


Being fit and athletic is the best thing one can do for their body. Working out and exercising for long hours is what is important to train muscles to perform optimally. However, all this hard work can easily go to waste if it is not incorporated within a proper diet plan.

What an athlete or a fitness-buff consumes in order to give their best on the field depends solely on the selection of nutrients taken on a daily basis.

Due to the different rates of metabolism needed by athletes for their long and tiring training programs, it is important that their diet includes elements that can give energy to their body, provide strength to their muscles and improve their performance overall.

Every sporting event athletes participate in requires a lot of physical activity, hence their muscles suffer a lot of wear and tear. For this purpose, the body needs something to help repair that damage.


Macronutrients


The main bulk of diets normally consist of carbohydrates, proteins, and a little quantity of fat. Meals should be taken before and after exercise sessions to get their maximal positive effect on the athlete’s body.

When it comes to athletes and sports enthusiasts, there are many differences in the choice of what to eat, which is usually based on the goal set for these athletes. They can be either to:

● Gain lean mass

● Improve muscle functionality

● Enhance athletic endurance

With the many differences in athletes’ goals, the variations in things like their caloric intake, the timing of taking nutrients, the amount of fluids as well as supplementations are significant and vary between athletes.


Carbohydrates and fats


Most amateurs who join the sports community make the mistake of bulking up on proteins by drinking protein shakes vigorously. They do not consume any amount of carbohydrate or fat. This leads to a serious decline in the body’s ability to function. In an international survey done on 348 athletes aged 15 to 18 years of age, it was seen that 82.2% of them used sports supplements, out of which 54.5% of them used protein supplements. [6]

It is essential for every person to consume at least 45-60% of carbohydrates even during high-intensity work-out programs. The same is perceived for the quantity of fats, every individual should take at a minimum of 5% fat in his/her diet in order to have a healthy hormonal function. Fats are an integral part of cell membranes and hence their complete absence can result in serious complications.

It was noted in a study of bodybuilders that the male competitors reduced their caloric intake 3 months before their competition and ended up decreasing their lean body mass. [7]


Proteins


Proteins are what form the framework of the whole body and its consumption is extremely important for the repair and growth of muscles. It has been estimated that the concentration of proteins should range from 1 gram to 2 grams per kilogram of body weight in every individual who trains.

Nutrition for endurance


There are certain endurance programs that are designed in a manner in which there are high-intensity exercises that take about three to four hours a day. These high-intensity sessions consume a lot of energy, which makes the consumption of carbohydrates essential. It is important that whoever undergoes training of such sort should consume carbohydrates (including whole-grain, fruits, or vegetables) ranging from 5 grams to 10 grams per kilogram of body weight every day.

After the immediate use of carbohydrates in the body, fats become the next source of energy consumption. Fats consumed should omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.

It is also advised to take a high fibrous diet with adequate hydration supplements to avoid the risk of dehydration.

Exceptional performance can only be achieved with the proper channeling of fuels and the proper consumption of electrolyte-rich fluid.

Nutrition for strength


There are some people who train to gain extra strength. For such individuals, training programs are built to enhance the strength of skeletal muscles.

These programs are called resistance training programs and mainly revolve around intense exercises and workout sessions. Individuals require a high quantity of protein to work for the build-up of muscle mass and also help in the healing and repair of the muscle fibers.

It is indicated after research that individuals in such programs should consume proteins ranging from 1 gram to almost 3 grams per kilogram of body weight in a day.

How important is hydration?

Many athletes actively competing in sporting events often neglect taking fluids, which results in severe dehydration. Many who take part in extensive work-out sessions lose a lot of electrolytes through their sweat and in order to replenish those lost electrolytes, they need to increase their fluid intake. This does not just keep the body cool, but it also helps rejuvenate the body after a tiring session.


Intake of supplements, is it safe?


The intake of supplements remains very controversial and risky for both training and practicing athletes. It is due to the number of health concerns that are seen with the passage of time due to these supplements.

However, there are a few supplements that are recommended for athletes or sports buffs to help develop a healthy environment for their insides. These include the very simple sports drinks, probiotics, electrolyte replenishing, protein, calcium, and iron supplements.

Probiotics can also be taken, research has claimed excellent benefits of it especially in athletes. A randomized control trial conducted on competitive cyclists showed great improvement in symptoms of gastrointestinal and respiratory illness. This helped in the long sessions of training, due to the growth of the healthy flora inside them. [5]

The Bottom Line


Athletes and sportsmen have a rough and tough schedule to follow that differs significantly from amateurs. To keep up their pace, athletes not only have to train hard, but also need to take care of their diet and nutrition if they want to stay in shape. Depending on the level of exertion and stress that an athlete or sportsmen has to go through, they have different requirements for different nutrients that help them gain their required muscle mass and energy supply. Carbohydrates, fats, proteins, sufficient amounts of water - all play their respective roles in imparting endurance and strength to an athlete.



References

  1. Leal, D. (2020, July 24). How to Maintain Maintaining Proper Nutrition for Sports Performance. Retrieved September 25, 2020, from https://www.verywellfit.com/fitness-sports-nutrition-4157142

  2. Thomas, D. (2019, February 27). Sports Nutrition. Retrieved September 25, 2020, from https://www.news-medical.net/health/Sports-Nutrition.aspx

  3. Carey, E. (2015, April 20). The importance of Sports Nutrition. Retrieved September 25, 2020, from https://www.spectrumhealth.ie/blog/the-importance-of-sports-nutrition

  4. Anonymous. Sports Nutrition - OrthoInfo - AAOS. Retrieved September 25, 2020, from https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/staying-healthy/sports-nutrition/

  5. West NP, Pyne DB, Cripps AW, Hopkins WG, Eskesen DC, Jairath A, Christophersen CT, Conlon MA, Fricker PA. Lactobacillus fermentum (PCC®) supplementation and gastrointestinal and respiratory-tract illness symptoms: a randomised control trial in athletes. Nutrition Journal. 2011 Dec 1;10(1):30.

  6. Jovanov P, Đorđić V, Obradović B, Barak O, Pezo L, Marić A, Sakač M. Prevalence, knowledge and attitudes towards using sports supplements among young athletes. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2019 Dec;16(1):27.

  7. Helms ER, Aragon AA, Fitschen PJ. Evidence-based recommendations for natural bodybuilding contest preparation: nutrition and supplementation. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2014 Dec;11(1):1-20.

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