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World Athletics Day 2020: 8 Nutrition Tips For Athletes

We all need nutrition for increasing body growth, promoting good health and providing energy. Athletes of all skills and ages need nutrition too to enhance athletic performance, recover from an injury faster and lower the risk of diseases. They need optimal nutrition for fuelling their body and recovering after training.

For an athlete, physical health is important to maintain an active lifestyle. Skill, strength and endurance are what an athlete needs to perform their best on the field. While athletes train, they need to fuel their body by eating the right kind of foods and drinking enough fluids to keep their body hydrated.

Here are some nutrition tips for athletes to help them get the most out of their training.

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1. Have carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are an important macronutrient which is considered a primary source of fuel during exercise. They should be a major part of an athlete's meal because it improves athletic performance and wards off fatigue. Carbohydrates, especially complex carbs have more nutrients than simple carbs. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and beans are good sources of complex carbohydrates [1].

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2. Consume proteins

Athletes need protein to repair and build muscles that are broken down during training. A study published in the journal Sports Medicine shows that 1.8 to 2.0 g of protein per kg of body weight per day is required for athletes [2].

Ultra-endurance athletes who participate in continuous training should have little more protein than this, but not exceeding more than 2 g of protein.

Eggs, whole-grain toast, yogurt, lean meat and beans are rich sources of protein.

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3. Stay hydrated

Keep your body hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Before, during and after exercise drink water so that you don't feel weak and dehydrated during hard training sessions or games.

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4. Include fats

Fat is another important macronutrient that an athlete needs to meet their energy needs and improve athletic performance. As per the recommendations of The American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada and the American College of Sports Medicine, the fat intake for an athlete should range between 20 to 35 per cent of total daily calories. Consume avocados, whole eggs, fatty fish, chia seeds, extra virgin olive oil and nuts [3].

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5. Load up on fruits and veggies

Athletes need to focus on micronutrients too that is found in different coloured fruits and vegetables. By eating a variety of coloured fruits and veggies, you will provide your body with several vitamins and minerals, which are necessary for optimal health and recovery. Try adding boiled veggies in your sandwiches, rice or salad and fruits to cereals or yogurt for an extra boost of nutrients [4].

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6. Don’t skip meals

Athletes should never skip their meals. They should start their day with the right breakfast and then following up with lunch and dinner. Healthy snacks can be had in between meals to curb hunger cravings. Athletes should consume meals every three to five hours to fuel their bodies [5].

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7. Add salt in your diet

Athletes sweat a lot and as a result, there is a loss of fluids and sodium from the body. Adding salt in foods will increase your sodium intake and replace the sodium lost during sweat. However, ensure that you don't consume excessive salt as it may lead to high blood pressure [6].

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8. Eat/drink to recover after an intense workout

Your body uses a lot of energy in the form of carbs during intense workout or training sessions. So, to replenish the lost carbs, you need to have a recovery meal or snack within 30 to 60 minutes after your training. Try having whole-grain sandwich, fruits, lean meat and yogurt.

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Nutrition Diet Plan For Athletes

Breakfast

Sliced grilled potatoes paired with scrambled eggs, berries and fruit juice or fat-free milk.

Lunch

Brown rice paired with lean meat, fish, veggies and yogurt.

Dinner

Broiled lean cuts of meat, green salad and low-fat milk.

Common FAQs

1. Why is nutrition important for athletes?

A. Athletes require proper nutrition to provide them the energy to perform intense training or workout sessions. A proper nutrition will help improve strength, training, performance and recovery.

2. What foods should athletes avoid?

A. Sugary sports drinks, flavoured yogurt, beer and diet soda.

3. What should I eat before an athletic event?

A. Consume foods that are rich in complex carbs and protein-rich foods to provide your body with much-needed energy.

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