Athletes dream of stardom and championship wins. They imagine being on top of their game while getting respect and admiration from devoted fans and peers alike. They go through a grueling training regimen to improve their performance and achieve the highest level of success. But never-ending workouts and determination are only part of the equation.
Sports nutrition plays an important role in every athlete’s life. Runners and jumpers, for example, need more carbs, because their muscles use them for energy. Fats and proteins, on the other hand, are converted to energy much slower and might make the body less energetic
What’s the best diet for an athlete?
An athlete’s diet is one of the essential components on the road to greatness. Eating right will increase energy and promote muscle growth. Eating wrong can be a serious setback.
Carbohydrates can make up to 65% of high-endurance athlete’s diet. Consuming proteins in 20g amounts 4-6 times a day is preferable. They will add up to 10-30% of an athlete’s daily calories. Unsaturated/saturated oils should constitute between 20-30% of daily calories. Fats should include a healthy balance between omega -3s/6s.
What about hydration?
The longer you exercise, the more you sweat, and the greater your need to replace those lost micronutrients. Less than an hour of high-intensity workout might require only water replacement.
Over 1-1.5 hours of exercise and your body will need mineral replacement and about 30-60 grams of carbs per additional hour. It also helps to drink 16oz of water before a strenuous activity. Vitamins B and C and a low dose of caffeine (70mg) have proven to be helpful.
Supplements for an athlete’s benefit.
Omega3 fish oils: Healthy blood flow and function of very small arteries are essential to exercise performance. Fish oils may cause blood thinning and allows red blood cells to carry oxygen into smaller blood vessels.
1g of DHE/EPA is sufficient to provide a healthy dose for improving blood flow.
L-Carnitine: L-carnitine is very important for muscle energy facilitation. During intensive workout, carnitine levels drop which is associated with impaired muscle function.
Creatine: Creatine increases strength between 8-14% in conjunction with muscle mass with resistance training compared to placebo. 0.1 g/kg of body weight is advised as optimal dosing, with initial dosing of 0.3g/kg. Damage to muscles, liver and enzymes is possible when used excessively.
Arginine: Arginine is an amino acid that increases amounts of cellular oxide as an ingredient for human growth hormone production. Arginine helps to dilate blood vessels and decrease vascular resistance.
Studies show that Arginine increases performance of cyclers in a 20 km race by 34 seconds, lowering oxygen consumption.
Taurine: Taurine is a non-essential amino acid. It can affect heart contraction and act as an antioxidant. During an intense exercise, branched chained amino acids and taurine may help delay muscle damage.
Ginkgo biloba: Ginkgo is a herb that stimulates blood flow in small vessels in aging people. It’s generally used to stimulate mental functions as well as increase blood circulation for anyone with peripheral artery disease.
Ginseng: This is one of the most popular herbal supplements and is known around the world. Although Ginseng has no significant benefits for trained professionals, it increases performance in untrained adults.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D levels are at their best in the summer time. The benefits include increase in strength and decrease in general discomfort for older people.
Vitamin B complex: Insufficient vitamin B might impair a person’s exercise performance. However, a moderate supplementation of B vitamins with normal blood levels shows no performance improvement.
Zinc: Zinc deficiency happens in cases of diets rich in carbohydrates. It may cause fatigue and loss of body weight. Zinc is a component in over 300 enzymes and some of them have direct impact on physical performance.
Finally, getting tested to find out which vitamins or minerals you are low on will help you get back on track to enjoy a healthy life.
An athlete’s path to success is never easy. It takes hard work, lots of sacrifice, focus and energy to get there. With the right sports nutrition, it can all be possible.
Stay healthy, eat right and be productive!
Author Bio- Franz Gliederer
Franz Gliederer is a specialist in Preventative and Occupational Medicine and has additional training in Internal Medicine and Family Practice. He is one of the Health Care Professionals at pH Labs .Dr. Gliederer was awarded the MPH degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, and his MD degree from the University of Vienna, Austria. Dr. Gliederer also was a research fellow at the Pulmonary Division of the University of California, Los Angeles.