Proper Nutrition and Diet for Amateur Athletes
Individuals exercise at different levels. For those involved in competitive sports – at least on the amateur level – the combination of exercise and proper nutrition is very important. Specifically, proper diet and nutrition for athletes is very much different compared to those who exercise to lose weight or just to stay healthy. Diet and nutrition for athletes should always start with carbohydrates and protein that provide energy and muscle strength. Next to this are important minerals like calcium and magnesium since a lack of these will cause muscle cramps.
Iron is very essential to an athlete’s diet because it prevents anemia. Normal nutrition for athletes should run to about 7,000 calories a day, especially if they are heavy swimmers, runners, cyclists, or into team sports like basketball, ice hockey, and football. Surprisingly, baseball players need only around 4,000 to 5,000 calories. A proven proper nutrition for athletes is “carbo-loading” before a competition. A carbo-loading diet increases carbohydrate stores that are made available for more endurance. It improves sports performance by 50 percent because of the availability of more energy and retards the onset of fatigue.
Another important nutritional factor is fluid intake. It compensates for the loss of minerals and carbohydrates and prevents dehydration. Fluids should be consumed before, during, and after an endurance competition. Water during playtime may not be a good choice since it is heavy on the stomach and may cause nausea. Water is best taken before and after playing. Isotonic and hypotonic drinks are now the best choice of athletes during sporting events since they keep the body hydrated and replace body salts lost during sweating.
Other nutritional diet tips for athletes include:
1. The intensity, duration, mode of playing, level of conditioning and efficiency of your movements will determine the amount of food and fluids, number of meals, and the timing of meals.
2. Start re-fuelling an hour after every practice session to assist the muscle’s capacity to rejuvenate.
3. High energy needs should not restrict you to eating traditional mealtimes. Try eating smaller but, more frequent meals, or several snacks.
4. Take a positive interest and attitude in eating more healthy food. It will greatly benefit your performance.