It’s no news that the energy demands of athletes significantly outweigh those of the average person. Their diet needs to contain all the nutrients required to match their body’s energy needs before they can put up winning performances. The average male athlete requires about 2,400-3,000 calories to perform effectively. In the female ones, it’s about 2,200-2,700.
As an athlete, your diets must feature energy-giving food nutrients like carbohydrates to keep your body going. Some healthy carb options to consider include fruits, cereals, pasta, bread, vegetables, etc. As an athlete, you also need fats for energy and to maintain healthy hormone levels. Protein is also essential for the growth and repair of muscle.
If you want your body to attain optimum performance level and recover quickly as an athlete, below are five practical tips to consider adopting. Even if you are not into sports but undertake high-intensity exercises like Ping pong, they will come in handy.
1. Don’t Joke with Carbs
Carbohydrates are energy-giving nutrients, and they’re an athlete’s primary source of fuel. Your body needs enough carbs to convert to glycogen, which gets changed to energy during an exercise. Consuming lots of carbohydrate-rich diets three or four days before an athletic event will ensure that you have enough glycogen in your body.
Make a habit of eating a diet that gets a significant proportion of its calories from carbs for maximum glycogen storage. Options to consider include bread, pasta, fruits, vegetables, etc. Also, avoid taking sugary foods about 30 minutes before commencing an athletic event to prevent speedy dehydration.
During long exercise sessions, ensure you consume a snack and drink water regularly to energize and revitalize muscles.
2. Stay Away from Processed Foods
While taking limited amounts of processed foods now and then certainly makes life enjoyable for many individuals, they’re terrible news to athletes. A study carried out by NIH on the effect of ultra-processed foods on energy intake in adults shows that unregulated consumption of processed food increases the risk of obesity and a series of other health issues because of the shortage of proteins.
Many of these foods contain industrial food manufacturing ingredients like hydrogenated oils, flavoring agents, emulsifiers, etc., which are usually high in fat, sugar, salt, and calories. As an athlete, you want nothing impairing your performance and health. So, avoid processed foods as much as you can. Instead, take a preference for whole foods as they’re more nutritious and contain harmless natural elements.
3. Protein Is Essential
Protein is an essential dietary requirement for a healthy human. Although it doesn’t provide much energy-enhancing fuel, it’s a vital tool in maintaining muscles. While a regular person only needs about 1.2 to 1.4 grams of protein per day, the appetite is more in an athlete as they require up to 1.7 grams per kilogram of body weight.
Regularly exercising can boost protein needs in endurance athletes by up to 50%. Consuming high-protein diets helps address the ever-increasing protein and amino acid demand peculiar to high-performance athletes.
However, in the consumption of protein, it’s essential to be careful as too much of it can affect your kidneys because it’s likely to put a strain on them. Milk is one of the most recommended protein-rich foods, as it helps in after-event recoveries and contains some carbohydrates elements. Other healthy sources of protein include legumes, nuts, eggs, chicken, etc.
4. Stay Hydrated Always
Hydration level is a significant factor that can affect the performance level of an athlete. A slight drop in that level can diminish your athletic ability. Staying hydrated requires the continual intake of water and other beneficial liquids. Drink up to two cups of water a few minutes before exercise and about 4-6 ounces of fluid every 15 minutes of training or workout.
Also, make a habit of consuming sports drinks as they’re instrumental to replenishing electrolytes and energy lost during a high-intensity exercise. If your body generates lots of sweat, consider investing in drinks with high salt and potassium content. Avoid fluids with high sugar content as they’re likely to inhibit your performance.