Whether you are an actual athlete or just physically active, sports nutrition can be particularly confusing. The truth of the matter is, nourishing your body when engaging in an active lifestyle depends on your level of activity and whether you want to tone down or bulk up. However, knowing certain universal sports nutritional facts can help you understand what your body requires.
Same needs, different degrees
Sports nutrition, like general nutrition, requires you to have your share of five food groups namely vitamins, mineral, proteins, carbohydrates and, believe it or not, fat. These are the fundamentals of nutrition. Without it, athletes or people with active lifestyles will easily burn themselves out. To most people, vitamins, minerals and protein are pretty much obvious, but fat and carbohydrates? Fat is generally not bad. It protects internal organs from trauma, promotes absorption of certain vitamins, is an essential part of nerve cells and is used by the body for energy. The trick is consuming foods with healthy amount of fat, like fish, olive oil and nuts. The recommended amount of fat is 20 to 35 percent of a person’s energy intake.
On the other hand, carbohydrates have gained a notoriety of keeping one overweight rather than healthy. However, carbohydrates is the body’s most efficient energy source. Athletes and active people rely on energy for performance, and the more intense the activity, the higher the need for energy. For people who regularly engage in intense activities, the recommended carb intake is 2.2 to 4.5 grams of carbs per pound of body weight. However, carbs should not come from just any other food source. Whole foods like wheat bread, brown rice, corn, vegetables and fruits are the best carb sources. What about sports supplements?
Sports supplements are a dime a dozen, so it is important to know what they are really for before including them in your diet. When used right, they can improve performance, promote hydration and optimize performance.
Sports drinks. Gatorade and Powder are the most popular brands, however, there are a lot more sports drinks in store shelves. Sports drinks provide fluid, carbohydrates and replenish electrolytes during excessive fluid loss became of intense physical activity or when in humid or hot environments. When using sports drinks, choose a low-calorie, low-sugar brand with electrolytes and less than 15 grams of carbohydrates per ounce. You should also drink around 6 to 12 ounces every 20 minutes during a workout.
Sports bars. The joy of eating sports bars is their convenience. It gives your body a carbohydrate boost since the activity prevents you from eating a normal meal. However, some sports bars can be jam-packed with sugar. So it’s best to stick with a low-protein, low-fat and sugar, but high in carbohydrate sports bar during an hour of intense activity.
Sports beans, gels and gummies. These sports foods come in small sizes but pack an energy punch. One serving can give an energy boost during exercise. It is best to consume ones that have 20 to 25 grams of carbohydrates, vitamins, and a minimal amount of sugar and caffeine. Since beans, gummies and gels are often concentrated, remember to drinking it around 8 ounces of water after consuming a serving.
Finally, before embarking on a sports-related diet, it is always wise to consult a professional trainer who is knowledgeable in both nutrition and sports-related activities.