Did you know that nutrition is often the missing link to optimizing athletic potential? Everyone knows how important exercise and training is for athletes, but what about their diet? That is where a registered dietitian joins the team.
Nutrition is a key component in athletic performance. What an athlete eats will determine his or her energy level, muscle recovery, hydration and overall mood. All of these factors determine how well an athlete can play and train.
Food gives us the fuel to be able to run longer, lift more weight, create/build new muscle, stay alert and so much more. With the knowledge that food is fuel, the question often becomes, “What should I eat?”
Who doesn’t love carbs? The good news for athletes is that they actually need carbohydrates to achieve optimum performance.
Carbohydrates help muscles recover faster and not become fatigued as quickly. In fact, athletes who train or remain active for longer than 60 minutes at a time should consume carbohydrates at least once an hour. Great sources of carbohydrates are fruits, grains and yogurt.
When most people think about protein, they tend to just think about meat. While meat is a primary source of protein, it can also be found in eggs, beans and tofu. For athletes, protein should be included in every meal, as well as snacks after training sessions and games.
Food can provide the 16 essential proteins our muscles need. Snacks with these essentials include peanut butter, hummus on pita chips, quinoa, rice and beans, and eggs.
Did you know your body can only absorb 20 grams of protein at a time? Therefore, athletes with higher protein requirements rely on a continuous supply of protein-packed snacks and meals to give them what they need.
Bring on the water, because it is only getting hotter. Athletes have higher water consumption needs than most people due to the intensity of their training and the amount they sweat. Add in summertime heat, and their bodies have the ability to lose over one and a half gallons of fluid per day.
If you want to see how much fluid you lose during training or exercising, weigh yourself before and after to see if there is a difference.
For athletes, even a very small fluid loss can cause hindered athletic performance. Dehydration can also cause increased fatigue, headaches, electrolyte imbalance, and an increased risk of developing kidney stones.
If you want to be healthy and train to the best of your abilities, proper daily hydration is imperative.
Eating To Win
To achieve optimum performance, it is important to understand the unique balance of proteins and carbohydrates your body needs.
Registered dietitians can perform metabolic testing and create special meal plans. They can customize a plan that is not only specific to you, but also to the sport you play. Not every sport demands the same amount of protein, calories or carbohydrates.
Sports nutrition experts are experienced coaches in the game of ‘eating to win,’ and they are great resources for helping athletes achieve their goals.
Whether you are a serious athlete or a weekend warrior, go to or call Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System’s Sports Medicine Institute at 864-560-5700 and ask for information about their sports nutrition program.
Don’t let nutrition be the missing link in your game.