Fueling for Fitness and Optimal Performance
This article stresses on the importance of having a sound eating plan or a ‘fueling’ plan for athletes, while hitting the gym or competing in an upcoming marathon or even Olympics. This ‘fueling’ plan not only helps them exercise with more energy, meet training goals faster and perform better but recover more completely from workouts, decreasing the risk of injuries and stay in overall better shape. The link between nutrition and fitness is realised by common people too, as almost 67% of American say they are currently making changes to improve their diets and overall health.
It is very important for athletes to eat in schedules, every 3-4 hours a day by planning 3 meals and 3-4 snacks. This helps in better recovery after the workouts. Developing a strategic eating plan is an essential part of nutrition success for athletes and even common people as it can make a difference in performance. It is important that athletes plan their breakfasts the night before and keep some snack handy, in this way, they would never run out of energy when they need it the most. For optimum nutrition, high quality foods containing protein (to build and maintain muscle mass), carbohydrates (for high muscle energy), vitamins, calcium and unsaturated fats must be consumed in proper proportions.
Recovery nutrition is essential for athletes who train more than an hour on a daily basis. The recovery plan must include three key ingredients: Fluids such as water and salt based drinks, carbohydrates and protein. Practising good recovery nutrition on a daily basis can be a game changer for competitive athletes. Also, it is very important for them to remain hydrated all day long because dehydration (loss of fluid from the body) causes the body to heat up faster and can reduce athlete’s performance. Athletes must periodically weigh themselves after the workout and drink 2-3 cups of fluid for every pound lost in the workout. Adding salt to the food intake during perspiration can prevent dehydration and cramps. Although dehydration must be avoided, condition of over-hydration must also be avoided. The role of nutrition in athlete performance becomes even more important when athletes train for more than 3 hours a day, staying hydrated and refuelling of muscles with proper nutrition is an important aspect during this phase. Although caffeine is touted to have beneficial impact on athletic performance, its intake must be limited and moderate amount of caffeine can have a beneficial effect on athlete’s performance.
A proper and optimum nutrition plan is essential for any athlete to become fit and successful.