A proper diet is essential to enhancing athletic performance. Balanced eating ensures that your body receives the nutrients it needs to perform all functions properly, as well as recover from physical activity. Establishing a strong foundation of eating habits and healthy nutrition choices is key to reach optimal physical health.
Water is considered the most important nutrient for exercise. It is essential for proper hydration as well as in preventing complications associated with dehydration, such as injury and illness. It is important to stay properly hydrated before, during, and after exercise.
Researchers have concluded that 500 to 600 mL of water or a sports drink should be consumed approximately 2 to 3 hours before exercise, in addition to 200 to 300 mL roughly 10 to 20 minutes before exercise. It is also important to remain hydrated during physical activity, being careful not to over-hydrate, and to rehydrate within 2 hours of exercising. Properly hydrating before exercising will lessen the need to rehydrate during your workout.
Eat According to Your Genes
Maintaining optimal health is paramount to reach peak athletic performance. Deficiency in certain vitamins and minerals can lead to fatigue and muscle cramps. Genetic testing for nutrition helps your doctor understand whether you have a genetic marker that makes you prone to a vitamin or mineral deficiency. If this is the case, your healthcare provider can work with you to develop a diet that will help you ensure your vitamin and mineral intake to achieve optimal health.
Make Sure You’re Incorporating Enough Carbohydrates Into Your Diet
Carbohydrates are an essential nutrient for energy and recovery. Active individuals should receive 55 – 65% of their daily intake from carbohydrates. Choosing carbohydrates with a low glycemic index, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, will ensure sustainable energy for your body during exercise, as this type of carbohydrate takes longer to digest. If you’ll be exercising for more than 1 hour, consume carbohydrates before and after your workout. If participating in more than one hour of intense aerobic exercise, you may need to plan for carbohydrate intake during your workout.
Go Easy On the Protein
Protein is an important nutrient for recovery and tissue repair as well as for muscle growth. However, contrary to popular belief, a significant increase in protein intake will not promote muscle growth – only a slight increase in protein consumption is necessary. Consuming too much protein may cause it to be stored as fat, might increase one’s risk of dehydration, and may lead to a loss of calcium. In fact, focusing too much on protein intake may result in an insufficient carbohydrate intake, which is the body’s main energy source.
Working With a Registered Dietitian
Working with a registered dietitian or maybe even with your doctor before starting a new diet plan. These healthcare professionals will evaluate your current health status and work with you to create a diet plan tailored to your body’s needs.