When we think about athletic success, we often jump straight to exercising and working out a lot in order to get better. However, what you need to be thinking about more than anything is your nutrition. While putting in the hours in the gym or on the sports field is important, fuelling your body correctly – or incorrectly – can have a huge impact on your success.
There is no one perfect diet that is right for every person, but due to the physical strain that exercise places on the body you need to consume a balanced diet with the correct proportions of carbohydrates, proteins as well as fats. Your diet must also include necessary amounts of vitamins and minerals that will help your body to function at an optimal level.
You are also required to ensure that you are drinking enough water to avoid cramping, fatigue, and dehydration. If you eat a sensible as well as nutritious diet your body, you will able to work out for longer and it will give your muscles the necessary fuel to repair and grow.
When you consume carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into glucose, which is stored in the body as glycogen. During exercise, this is converted back into glucose and your body used this as energy to support your workout. Your ability to workout for prolonged periods of time and to perform workouts of a vigorous-intensity is all dependant on the stores of energy that you have in your body. Therefore, if your workouts or sport requires intense performance or endurance, carbohydrates should be an important part of your diet.
Protein does not contribute as much to your diet in terms of providing a store of energy, but it is important in other ways. When you eat protein, your body breaks it down into amino acids, which are used to build tissues, enzymes, and hormones in the body. For athletes, in particular, proteins are important for their ability to assist with muscle building and repair after a workout. This is important for repairing micro-tears in muscles that occur from strenuous exercise and will allow you to recover much quicker. Vegetarian athletes should make sure to pay attention to their protein intake and ensure that they are taking in enough in their diet.
Like carbohydrates, fats are an essential source of energy for athletes. The body’s ability to break down fat relies on the length and intensity of the exercise, as it will use the more accessible carbohydrates first. If you are working out for long periods of time and at a high-intensity level, you will be able to break down and use fats stored in the body with more ease. While we often see fats as negative, they are an important source of fatty acids and vitamins (such as vitamins A as well as D) and should not be ignored.
By creating a balanced diet that is tailored to your needs, and by ensuring that you are staying hydrated and taking in enough vitamins and minerals, you will be able to improve your athletic abilities. Nutritional needs vary depending on your sport and your workouts of choice, but it is a crucial part of training if done correctly will help you to succeed.
If you are eager to discover more about athletic nutrition, then you need to do our Athletic Nutrition Course. For more information and to register, please follow this link.