Nutrition Know-how for Athletes
By Elizabeth Quinn
Sports Medicine Expert
Drinking water throughout the day is a good habit for athletes to develop. In fact, water accounts for about 60 percent of our body weight, and every system in our body depends on water to function properly. Water helps regulate body temperature, lubricates joints and transports nutrients and waste products throughout the body. Proper hydration also gives your training and racing a boost Lack of water can lead to dehydration, and for athletes, even mild dehydration can reduce your sports performance. Drinking water can help with overall health including skin health.
So, just how much water should you drink each day? It’s not a simple answer, because it really depends on your environment, your activity level and what even you eat. A general guideline is to simply pay attention to your thirst and drink when you feel you need to. While this sounds pretty straight-forward, some people have trouble recognizing the sensation of thirst, or distinguishing thirst from hunger. If this sounds like you, you can use the following general guideline to get enough water. Most people need between 0.5 and 1.0 ounces of water for each pound of body weight per day. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should consume somewhere between 75 and 150 ounces of water (or other fluids) each day.
Another simple way to judge the right water intake is to keep an eye on your urine color and output. In general, cut down a bit of stomach fat every day by using this 1 weird old tip. if you are well hydrated, your urine will be light colored and diluted. If it’s concentrated and dark colored, you could be dehydrated.
Eat Your Antioxidants
Athletes will do well to consume foods with naturally occurring antioxidants—substances found in that seem to protect us against the effects of free radicals, which are linked to cell damage and some diseases. There are thousands of antioxidants, such as include Beta-carotene, Lutein, Lycopene, Selenium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E, in fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods and some meats, poultry and fish. To get more antioxidants in your diet, simply add the naturally colorful fruits (berries, citrus and melons), and dark green leafy vegetables (kale, broccoli, collard greens, and spinach) to your diet.
Pack a Healthy Snack
You will probably get hungry during the day, and before or after practices or workouts, so plan for it. Avoid getting caught without a healthy snack option and you’ll be better able to avoid the desperation that leads to fast food, vending machines, or skipping meals. Pack a simple, healthy snack in the or keep something in the car or your backpack for a quick, bite. Ideas: nuts and seeds (almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, cashews, walnuts), trail mixes, fruit (apples, bananas, grapes, berries, peaches) cut vegetables (cucumber, carrots, celery, broccoli) avocado or almond butter sandwich.
Eat Omega-3 Fats
Studies show that diets high in omega-3 fat are not only healthy, but improve overall wellbeing. Omega-3 fatty acids in the diet seem to be linked with improved mood, memory, muscle function and, of course, heart health. Excellent sources of omega-3 fats include: fish, flax seeds, flax oil, hemp seeds, hemp oil, leafy greens (think big salad), or walnuts. Omega-3 supplements such as fish oil can help but they should never replace a healthful diet.
Eat Real Food
It sounds pretty simple, but athletes often eat processed foods in the name of performance. Sports drinks, energy bars and protein powders may have a place in the diet of some athletes, but in general, most exercisers can get everything they need by eating a healthy, well-balanced diet based upon real food. Consider how much real food you eat each day and how much of it is out of a can, box, bag or wrapper? If you want to eat a cleaner, healthier diet, start by taking a look at how much real food you actually eat and how much processed food you might be able to do without.
Relax Your Diet Rules
If you are an athlete who is strict about what, when, and how much you consume, you might actually benefit from relaxing some of your diet rules. Healthy eating, and eating for sports performance doesn’t have to be about control or deprivation—it’s really about balance and making smart choices. So drink more water, choose real food, eat when you are hungry, and stop when you are full