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I chose to write about sports nutrition. This includes foods and supplements that can be consumed to help increase athletic performance naturally. Also small changes to one’s diet that may help prevent injury and make an athlete last longer in competition or in practice. One thing an athlete can do to help their performance is to consume fish oil daily. Eating fish oil tablets can help increase heart health and cardiac function. With a more healthy heart, an athlete can breathe better, run longer, and just be all around healthier. The heart pumps blood throughout your body and blood carries the oxygen and nutrients to the muscles being used when you are participating in sports. Fish oil would be especially helpful in sports that involve a lot of running and cardio. Athletes that have a lot of endurance can last so long because their hearts can pump blood fast for longer periods of time, when people try to keep moving at a certain pace and the heart cannot keep up, that is when lactic acid starts to build up. This happens because the heart cannot get the proper amount of oxygen and nutrients the body is demanding, so it produces lactic acid as a replacement fuel.
When It comes down to recovery, an athlete can take a protein shake shortly after their workout so they can give their body the protein it needs to recover. Protein should be taken within the hour you finished your workout because that is when your anabolic window for muscle feeding is at its highest. Proteins are made of amino acids and amino acids are known as the fundamental building blocks of muscles. So, the faster you can get the protein shake into your body, the more effective it can be towards your recovery. The purest form of protein and the best one for athletes is called whey protein. The one thing that you can do yourself for better performance and that is to make sure that one’s body is always well rested for the next day. Sleeping allows for all the nutrients that were consumed throughout the day to be put to use when it comes to repairing the body from the damage done to it while training early in the day. Athletes should be getting a minimum of 6 to 8 hours of sleep a night. When sleeping your body releases growth hormone, which allows the body to repair itself, grow muscle, and more. As you grow older less and our bodies create less growth hormone, so getting the proper amount of rest becomes more and more important as athletes get older.In sports that involve short sprints and explosive jumping, creatine is nutrient that athletes want to have in their system. Creatine can be added to one’s diet by simply eating meat. In meats creatine is found in small portions, if someone were really trying to get an advantage using creatine, they would supplement with it. Creatine helps to promote strength, mass, and power. It does this by allowing the muscles to hold more water and nutrients, so they have more fuel to burn. The result is that athletes last longer through workouts and allow muscles to exert more power. One of the best things about creatine is that it is a legal way to improve your performance.
Taking glutamine when competition is over is a great way for athletes to help their bodies recover. Glutamines are amino acids. There are three type of glutamine: l glutamine, glutamine peptides, and alanyl l glutamine. The three of these help the bodies to build more muscle, recover faster from workouts, and help with digestion. L glutamine reduces catabolism, which is the breakdown or muscle and supports an anabolic state, which is a growing state for muscles. It also helps to support a healthy immune system. The glutamine peptides increase protein synthesis, which is the body’s ability to repair itself using amino acids and supports the immunes system. Peptides also increase glutamine availability and absorption. Alanyl l glutamine supports intestinal health and boosts the immune system. It also enhances rehydration and improves endurance.
When it comes to vitamins I found this very useful for preparing for practice and competitions for athletes. This knowledge could make the small difference in your performance to give an athlete the little push they need to make it to the next level of their potential. I found this on http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=7087
Vitamin Needs of Athletes
Vitamins do not provide energy, but they are crucial for turning food into energy. Although some research suggests the high activity levels of athletes may increase their vitamin needs, at present, the Institute of Medicine does not make vitamin recommendations specific to athletes. While vitamins will not enhance your performance, a shortage is sure to get you down. Here’s a view of the role vitamins play, as well as their Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI):
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
Thiamine helps breakdown carbohydrates and proteins for energy. Taking more than the DRI does not appear to enhance performance.
• DRI: 1.2 mg (men), 1.1 mg (women)
• Good sources: Whole and enriched grains and fortified cereals
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Riboflavin is integral to energy production. It also plays a role in red blood cell formation. Athletes need the DRI of this vitamin.
• DRI: 1.3 mg (men), 1.1 mg (women)
• Good sources: Almonds, milk, yogurt, wheat germ, fortified breads and cereals
Niacin
Niacin supports both anaerobic and aerobic performance. Too much or too little niacin can shift your body’s use of energy from fat to carbohydrates or vice versa; this might affect performance.
• DRI: 16 mg (men), 14 mg (women)
• Good sources: Meat, fish, poultry, peanuts, peanut butter and enriched grain products
Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is involved in over 100 metabolic reactions in your body, including the production of energy and hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells. Intakes below the DRI can hurt performance.
• DRI: 1.3 mg (31-50 year-old), 1.7 (men 51 and over), 1.5 (women 51 and over)
• Good sources: Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, beans whole grains, seeds and oysters
Vitamin B12
Because of its role in red blood cell formation, B12 is crucial for getting oxygen to tissues. B12 is only found in animal products, putting vegan and vegetarian athletes at risk for anemia. Such groups should try to get as much B12 from food as possible. Taking a B12 supplement or eating B12-fortified foods also may be needed.
• DRI: 2.4 mcg
• Good sources: Seafood, meats, milk and cheese, eggs and fortified breakfast cereals
Folate
Folate is important for cell production, heart health and protection against birth defects. The DRI appears to be enough to support the energy demands of athletes. Female athletes of childbearing age should include folate in their diet every day.
• DRI: 400 micrograms
• Good sources: Enriched grains, dark leafy greens, whole-grain breads and cereals and citrus fruits
Vitamin C
Perhaps the most famous antioxidant, vitamin C offers a wide-variety of health benefits, including protecting from infection and damage to body cells, helping produce collagen (the connective tissue that holds bones and muscles together), protecting your body from bruising by keeping capillary walls and blood vessels firm; and helping in the absorption of iron and folate.
• DRI: 90mg (men), 75mg (women)
• Good sources: citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits and tangerines), strawberries, sweet peppers, tomatoes, broccoli and potatoes
Pantothenic Acid
This vitamin is needed for the breakdown of fats, proteins and carbohydrates into usable energy. It is found in almost all plant and animal foods. Athletes should aim to meet the adequate intake for pantothenic acid.
• DRI: 5 mg
• Good sources: Poultry, seafood, nuts, seeds, avocados and whole grains
Biotin
Biotin plays an important role in energy production.
• DRI: 30 mcg
• Good sources: Nuts, eggs, soybeans and fish
Vitamin D
“Vitamin” D is actually a hormone, not a vitamin. Your body can make its own vitamin D with enough sun exposure. Vitamin D is important for bone health; athletes in weight-sensitive sports such as gymnastics, running or cycling should take care to get enough. A physician may suggest Vitamin D and/or calcium supplements for some athletes.
• DRI: 200IU, 400IU (51-70 years old), 600IU (71+ years old)
• Good sources: Fortified milk and cereals, cod-liver oil, seafood and eggs
Eating is something that is often overlooked and is not taken as seriously as it should be for athletics. Athletes should be consuming slightly more calories per day than they burn in order to continue to see improvement in their performance. When you consume too little calories or less than what you burned for the day, your body will enter a catabolic state and will break down an lose muscle, which will be setting you further back from your winning goals each day. Just eating is not good enough though, athletes and everyone in general want to try to keep to foods that are nutrients dense, meaning they have the most nutrients for their calories.
Having high testosterone levels is king for male athletes. Testosterone is a natural anabolic steroid made in the testes. Having healthy testosterone levels can help make an athlete stronger, faster, more explosive, and dramatically reduce recovery time between workouts. Athletes can reap the benefits of testosterone by simply eating a few things new or may already enjoy eating. Oysters increase testosterone because they are high in zinc, which aids in the production of testosterone. Garlic boost testosterone when combined with a high protein diet. Bananas contain the enzyme bromelain, which some studies have found boosts a mans libido. Eggs, which are rich in vitamin D, are essential for optimal testosterone levels. Studies show that men who are deficient in vitamin D had lower levels of testosterone. I learned this from menshealth.com
Carbohydrate loading is popular among athletes. High school coaches teacher their athletes this simple trick so their athletes have more energy for the day of competition. A common misconception with this strategy is that people think that they are supposed to eat the carbs the night before the competition, when really your supposed to eat them two or three days before. When you eat the carbs the night before, you don’t give your body enough time to get the carbs into the muscle, so they are still loading into your system when your performing. When you wait two or three days, the body has enough time to load the carbs into the muscles and you can use the carbs a fuel for the demanding muscles.
Last but not least water. Water is the most important nutrient for our bodies. Our bodies are over 60% water and water is used in every function we perform. We can go longer without food than water. It’s important to stay hydrated over an hour prior to practice because you don’t want to be dehydrated during practice or competition. Symptoms of dehydration include dizziness, blurry vision, fainting, vomiting, and cramping. Athletes want to avoid hydrating too close to competition or practice because that can lead to stomach cramps. A person can know if they are properly hydrated because their urine will be clear and their body will not retain so much water because it does not need anymore. Drinking water also helps people to look more slim because when you don’t drink enough water your body will retain all the water I gets because it doesn’t know when it will get water again. This leads to bloating. Water is also an appetite suppressant, people will not want to eat all the time just to eat if hydrated, and you should only crave nutrients when you need them.
In Conclusion, if I were to incorporate all of these things into my training regiment, my performance would see dramatic improvements. It would help with my overall endurance and make me a much stronger, faster, more alert athlete. I would have more energy and should always be ready to perform my best. I will be more rested between workouts and have no problem giving my all every day in practice. I would be able to accomplish my daily goal of ending every day better than I ended the day before.

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