THE ROLE OF NUTRITION FOR ATHLETES
Whether you are an elite competitive athlete or an avid weekend warrior, nutrition matters. In fact, what you put in your body may be just as important—if not more—than other health and performance factors such as your age, body type and the training methods you use.
Many athletes depend solely on other injury-prevention methods such as stretching and improving their technique. These practices are very important, yet they tend to overlook nutrition as something that will affect injury risk, as well.
If you are an active athlete, you will want to seek out foods rich in the following nutrients:
Protein – As you exercise, small muscle tears happen and then heal. This is what allows your muscles to strengthen and grow over time. Protein provides the energy to rebuild muscles after your workout or game.
Carbohydrates – Some fad diets knock carbohydrates, but they are the most efficient fuel source for our bodies when participating in sports or exercise. Some carbs are better for you than others, so take the time to learn about what you are putting into your body and enjoy a diet with a proper balance of carbohydrates to fuel your sports activities.
Iron – Some foods like beans, whole grains, leafy vegetables, nuts, and seeds are rich in iron, which can help boost athletic performance by carrying more oxygen from your lungs to all your working muscles.
Vitamin D – Spending time outside and eating foods fortified with vitamin D (fish, eggs, yogurt, milk, and soy products) will help your body absorb calcium for a healthier immune system.
Calcium – As you get plenty of vitamin D, you can work on eating more calcium-rich foods including milk, yogurt, certain veggies, cheese, fortified fruit juices, and almonds. Calcium will enhance your muscle function and bone health.
Electrolytes & Hydration – Last but certainly not least, you must have proper hydration when you are a serious athlete. Drinking plenty of water, along with a balanced intake of electrolyte supplements (and not too much sugar) before, during and after your exercise is a good idea. Cognition, muscle and joint health, and neuromuscular control are all affected negatively by improper hydration.
To learn more about injury prevention and recovery methods or for help in designing your own athletic nutrition plan, contact CORE Physical Therapy today. We’re here to help everyone enjoy healthier lifestyles and get the most out of their bodies.