high-powered machine cannot run without the right kind of fuel. This fact is just as true for the human body, which is basically a bio-machine. When you are trying to maintain optimal health and peak performance (something that all athletes want), diet and exercise are known as the two main tools. Unfortunately, many people start exercising without adjusting their diet. This decision has often been proven to be a mistake. In this article, we will take a look at the top five reasons for athletes to manage their nutrition properly.
Maintaining Energy Levels
An athlete needs to be a high-energy person. Since food is the primary fuel on which the body runs, it isn’t surprising to see that food has a strong effect on your energy levels. When your body digests food, it is dissolved in the stomach acid and broken down into energy.
Carbohydrates are particularly important when it comes to energy. You see, there are three basic macronutrients: protein, carbs, and fat. Of these three types, carbohydrates are the easiest to use. Carbohydrates are broken down into a sugar-like substance called glycogen. All sugars are carbs. Glycogen is a source of quick energy. When you eat a carb-rich meal, you will see those energy benefits in short order. The body can extract energy from protein or fat, but it isn’t so easy, and that’s why the body tends to use its carbohydrates first.
You might be the most skillful athlete in the contest, but it won’t do you any good if you can’t finish! For games that can last a long time (like football, basketball, etc.), endurance is one of the keys to success. Thus, proper nutrition can help keep you lifted to the end and ensure that you don’t sell yourself short.
Athletes are more at risk of physical injuries than the average person. As such, quick recovery time is essential. When you suffer an injury (And there is little doubt that you will), proper nutrition can help you to heal faster.
Protein is the most important macronutrient when it comes to recovery. Studies have repeatedly shown that the proteins known as amino acids are the most important in this regard. This study, for instance, found no doubt that a supplement of amino acids would aid muscle recovery. The study contains a lot of discussion about the means and methods by which it works, but they don’t seem to know for sure.
Improve Bone Health
Few things can take you out of the game longer than a bone fracture. Worst of all, these injuries tend to be debilitating. You can’t train, you can’t compete; in fact, you can’t do much at all until that bone heals. Some athletes have suffered career-ending injuries of this type. For instance, take a look at Joe Theismann. He was considered to be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, but it all ended when Lawrence Taylor maliciously broke his leg during a game in 1985.
Thankfully, a proper diet can make you less likely to suffer broken bones. While there is a very real limit to the amount of strain that your bones can take, you can extend that limit somewhat. Calcium and vitamin D are especially crucial to the health of the bones, and it is essential to get enough of these minerals during childhood.
Muscular Size And Strength
Muscular size and strength are important to all athletes in one way or another. With some sports, like powerlifting, this importance is obvious. For more acrobatic sports (like gymnastics, for instance), strength will still play a role. As with recovery, it is all about getting the right protein balance.
The body takes protein from your food and sends it to the muscles, where it synthesizes the protein into muscle tissue. In the scientific literature, this process is usually referred to as “muscle protein synthesis.” During this process, amino acids are used to create new muscle tissue and repair the old and damaged muscles. Recovery and muscle-building are deeply connected.
Apart from all this, we should not forget one other consideration: eat too much and exercise too little, you will gain weight. For athletes, this can be a serious problem. Many sports have weight classes, and a person is not allowed to compete outside of their weight class. Most sports like these will involve a weigh-in, where they make sure that each contestant is within limits. If someone is too small or too large, the contest cannot commence. No one wants to be embarrassed by a situation like this.
Diet is more important than exercise when it comes to keeping your weight under control. You see, the average workout burns about 100-500 calories. These figures have a wide range because there is a lot of variation based on body type and conditions. So, how many calories do most people eat in a day? According to this article, the average person eats between 2000 and 3500 calories a day (rough estimate, of course). You don’t have to be a math genius to figure out that we have a huge difference here.
We hope that this brief article has given you some idea of why nutrition is so essential for all athletes. Without the right kind of fuel, your machine will be burning dirty, and that results in poor performance. Think about it: Would you try to run a race car on cheap unleaded gas? Probably not. Sure, you could do it, but you won’t win the race that way. If our advice has answered your questions and inspired you to eat healthier food, then you are taking steps in a positive direction! You can continue learning how to live a healthier life by filling out the contact form below.