o Importance of a healthy diet in an athlete’s life and
o Food Guide Pyramid.
o Role of carbohydrates in athletes diet
o Role of proteins in athletes diet
o Role of vitamins and minerals in athletes diet
o Role of iron and calcium in athletes diet
o Role of water in athletes diet
o Athletes should care about nutrition and follow an organized
o 10 steps for a good healthy diet
Sport is an essential and important thing in our lives to practice. It
gives us health and entertainment at the same time. But whenever sport
becomes very widely known and practiced, education in this field increases
and researches came up to ensure about the importance of a good nutrition
for people who do sports or athletes.
Nowadays nutrition became a major factor in the athlete’s life and
performance. Athletes now know that they should eat well to perform
better. But here is the big problem … what should athletes eat? How much
should they eat? How many meals per day? …etc.
One of the best ways to ensure you're in top form is to follow the
food guide pyramid. By eating the recommended groups of foods in the
suggested amounts, you are giving your body the nutrients it needs to
succeed. Eating regular meals and healthy snacks will keep you in top
form. The Food Guide Pyramid is a crucial part of eating for sports
because it includes a huge variety of nutrients. You'll need a
healthy combination of vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, fats,
and other nutrients from different foods to be at the top of your game.
Carbohydrate provides the majority of energy in the diets of most
people. . There are many reasons why this is desirable. In addition to
providing easily available energy for oxidative metabolism, carbohydrate-
containing foods are vehicles for important micronutrients and
phytochemicals. Dietary carbohydrate is important to maintain glycemic
homeostasis and for gastrointestinal integrity and function. Unlike fat and
protein, high levels of dietary carbohydrate, obtained from a variety of
sources, is not associated with adverse health effects. Maintenance of
energy balance is dependent both on energy intake and energy expenditure.
Maintaining regular physical activity greatly reduces the likelihood
of creating positive energy balance, regardless of the composition of the
diet. There is agreement that the combination of a high carbohydrate diet
and regular physical activity is the optimal arrangement to avoid positive
energy balance and obesity. The increased energy needs of physical
activity can be supplied by carbohydrate or fat. The importance of
carbohydrate in the diet becomes more critical as the amount and intensity
of physical activity increases.
There is substantial evidence that carbohydrate can improve
performance for the elite endurance-trained athlete. A high carbohydrate
pre-event meal shows to enhance performance during long-distance
cycling and running. There is, however, no evidence that such
carbohydrates would improve performance for the majority of people who
engage in recreational physical activity of lower intensity and duration. On
the other hand, carbohydrate intake following exercise can help to quickly
replenish depleted glycogen stores (75).
The proteins that make up human muscle don't come directly from
the diet. Rather, the body breaks down dietary protein into its derivatives,
amino acids, the primary building blocks of protein. With these amino
acids, the body synthesizes the proteins it needs to accumulate muscle. In
addition, amino acids perform a number of vital functions. They either act
as, or are precursors to, the body's neurotransmitters, substances that carry
messages from one nerve cell to another, and that serve as the body's main
form of internal communication. They also enable vitamins and minerals to
perform their duties.
When it comes to strength training and lean weight gain, amino
acids perform a number of functions, from encouraging the production of
growth hormones to promoting muscle gain and fat loss. Of the
approximately 28 known amino acids, the body can make only about 80
percent. The remaining nine amino acids -- histidine, isoleucine, leucine,
lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine -- are
considered "essential amino acids" because the body can't manufacture
them and, therefore, must acquire them through the diet. According to
Kristi Reimers, M.S., R.D., associate director of ICSN, it's possible to
consume all the necessary amino acids through diet; however, when the
body requires a combination of amino acids to form a protein, if it's
missing even one, it may break down tissue such as muscle to find it. In
fact, during childhood, amino acid deficiency may lead to stunted growth.
Therefore, when trying to build muscle, it's important to ensure the
body has all the necessary amino acids. Certain conditions and dietary
choices can contribute to amino acid deficiency. For example, many amino
acids can't be found in vegetable sources, so vegetarians, especially
vegans, may be at risk for deficiency. In addition, high stress, depression,
infection and nutrient imbalance can contribute to deficiency of one or
more amino acids, according to James Balch, M.D., and Phyllis Balch,
Vitamins and minerals are nutrients that your body needs to work
properly. They boost the immune system, are essential for normal growth
and development, and help cells and organs do their jobs. They are found
in the foods we eat, and some foods have more vitamins and minerals than
others. A glass of milk, for example, is a good source of vitamin A and the
minerals calcium, phosphorous, and potassium. A glass of soda, in
contrast, is not a significant source of vitamins or minerals.
You can't live on one vitamin alone, your body needs a variety of
vitamins and minerals to grow, develop, and stay healthy. Vitamins fall
into two main categories: fat-soluble and water-soluble. The fat-soluble
vitamins - A, D, E, and K - are stored in your body's tissues where they can
be used as needed. Fat-soluble vitamins need to dissolve in liquid fat inside
your body before they're useful.
Vitamin C and the B-complex vitamins are water-soluble. They need
to dissolve in water before your body can absorb them. What your body
doesn't use is lost through urination or perspiration, so you need a fresh
supply of water-soluble vitamins every day.
Whereas vitamins are organic substances (made by plants or
animals), minerals are inorganic elements that come from the soil and
water and are absorbed by plants or eaten by animals. Your body needs
large quantities of some minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorous,
and potassium to grow and stay healthy. Other minerals are called trace
minerals because you only need very small amounts of them. Chromium,
copper, iodine, iron, selenium, and zinc are some of the important trace
minerals your body needs each day.
Most teens don't get enough iron and calcium, and athletes' bodies
require even more. All teens should make sure they get enough iron and
calcium. The best sources of iron are lean red meats, grains that are iron-
fortified, and green, leafy vegetables. For teens who play sports, calcium
keeps the bones strong. Strong bones prevent stress fractures that can occur
while working out or during a game. Foods from the milk group are the
best sources of calcium.
As we know, the body is 67% water, and we should drink lots of
water throughout the day. Water courses throughout the body's plumbing;
downing copious amounts throughout the day keeps the pipes clean as
chrome. So flush the system continually and regularly, regenerating muscle
cells through water replenishment. Drink 10 eight-ounce glasses of water a
A loss of water that exceeds 2 percent of one's body weight
significantly impairs endurance performance. Therefore, it is
recommended that exercisers drink lots of water, before, during, and after
working out. After exercising in hot and humid environments for one hour
a water loss of up to .5 lbs per mile may occur. To replace fluid loss under
these conditions, an exerciser would have to drink one cup of water (8 oz)
every mile or 6-8 minutes (Nieman, 1990). To systematically hydrate
during exercise it is recommended to consume 200-400 ml of cold (40-50
F) every 15-20 minutes.
And speaking of dehydration, don't forget that food isn't the sole key
to unlocking your power; water is just as important. When you are
perspiring heavily during exercise and your body loses large amounts of
water, it's easy to become overheated and not be able to perform to your
full potential. In hot or humid weather, heat exhaustion can become a real
hazard if you're not staying properly hydrated while you're exercising.
The best way to keep hydrated is to drink before, during, and after
exercise (or a game or event). The amounts you should drink are as
1 to 2 hours before exercising: 12 to 16 ounces of cold water (about 2
cups or 1/2 liter)
10 to 15 minutes before exercising: 12 to 16 ounces of cold water
(about 2 cups or 1/2 liter)
While exercising: 3 to 4 ounces of cold water every 15 minutes (about
1/2 cup or 1/10 liter)
After exercising: 2 cups (about 1/2 liter) of cold water for every
pound of weight loss through sweat (this means about 1 to 2 cups, or
1/4 to 1/2 liter, for most teens; if it's a hot day you may feel thirsty
enough to drink even more)
The main thing to remember about staying hydrated is to drink
regardless of whether you feel thirsty. Thirst is a sign that your body has
needed liquids for a while. And when deciding what to grab to quench
your thirst, the best drink is cold water - it's the simplest thing for your
body to absorb, it's usually easy to find, and it's free! If you like sports
drinks, they are also OK, but like sports foods and supplements, they're not
necessary for you to get what your body needs. They also tend to be pretty
expensive. But if you like the taste and tend to drink more of a sports drink
than you would of regular water, then it's fine.
An athletic person should be wise enough to understand the
importance of well-organized diet in his sport, and this requires following
a detailed program for his eating habits in addition to several calculations
related to his body mass. This athlete will end by a good performance in
his game and a strong healthy body.
Developing healthy dietary habits is as simple as following the steps
originally described in the United States Surgeon General's 1988 report on
nutrition and health:
(01) Eat a variety of nutrients from the four food groups.*
A. Consume four or more servings a day from the Beans, grains, & Nuts,
and the Fruit & Vegetable groups.
B. Consume two servings a day from the Milk Products and the Poultry,
Fish, Meat & Eggs groups.
(02) Eat foods high in starch (complex carbohydrates) and cellulose
(03) Limit your total fat intake to 30% or below of your total daily caloric
intake and keep your intake of saturated fats at or below 1/3 of you fat
(04) Limit your cholesterol intake to 300 milligrams per day or less.
(05) Get your vitamins and minerals from the four food groups not from
(06)Avoid foods high in simple sugars.
(07) Limit sodium intake to no more than 2400 milligrams per day.
(08) Maintain an adequate intake of calcium.
(09) If you drink alcoholic beverages, keep it to no more than one or two
drinks a day.
(10) Maintain your ideal lean vs. fat body weight.
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• Gaman, P.M., & Sherrington, K.B. (1990). The science of food:
Introduction to food science, nutrition and microbiology (3rd ed.). Oxford:
• Forsythe, W.A. (1990). Nutrition and you with readings. Raleigh, NC:
• Hecker, A.L. (1987). Nutrition and physical performance. In R.H.
Strauss (Ed.), Drugs a64, 1480-1485.
• Margen, S. (Ed.) (1991). University of California, Berkeley: The
wellness encyclopedia. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.
National Academy of Sciences (1989). Diet and health: Implications for
reducing chronic disease risk. Washington, D.C.: National Academy.Book
Prescription for Nutritional Healing: A-to-Z Guide to Supplements