Athletes Need to Eat to Perform, Recover & Repair

Eat balanced proportions of macronutrients to prevent muscle wasting
Overtraining Can End Up in Overuse Injury

The three important phases of exercise include performance, recovery and repair which are greatly impacted depending on the time of day when we choose to eat nutrient-rich foods. Eating for athletic performance is more crucial than what you eat before/after an exercise session.

Eat Just Right

Many athletes do not eat enough to load them with energy for workout and recovery. Such insufficient intake results in decreased performance and increased risk of injury as the body is not powered with the energy needed for recovery and repair of damaged muscle tissue. Keep track of your body weight, body composition and performance to judge whether you are eating enough. A slight decrease in performance or loss in lean body muscle can be connected to decreased calorie intake.

Drink Often

Dehydration can impede performance and the ability to recover. Intense workouts, especially during hot summer days, can elevate body temperatures to dangerously high levels. Obstruct this increase by drinking cold water just before workout to lower body temperature. Keep drinking mouthfuls of cold water during training to maintain high endurance levels. Don’t wait until you feel thirty, as dehydration could have already set in by that time. Urine color is another way to check your hydration levels. Clear to light yellow is an indication of balanced fluid levels, whereas yellow to cloudy is an indication of not enough fluid levels. There is no need for any sports beverage when you follow these measures to stay hydrated.

Have A Good Circulation

A good circulation ensures good oxygen supply to the brain, heart and muscles that helps to increase your performance, decrease your stress levels, muscle cramps and helps you stay focused on the event for longer time periods. Eat more oranges, sunflower seeds, chocolates and garlic to improve circulation. Iron-rich foods such as meat, chicken, turkey, beans and leafy greens help to increase red blood cell count and oxygen delivery.

Get Yourself Energized Before Working Out

Any workout that stretches beyond 75 minutes needs plenty of energy. Only when you are loaded with energy, it is possible to complete a high-intensity workout session successfully. Consuming a diet rich in carbs and proteins before a session increases blood sugar and pressure levels, maintaining them at the desired rate for extended periods of time. Although it is advised to leave a few hours gap after eating food, some people can exercise just after a meal. Carbs such as quinoa, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, fresh fruits and vegetables are good for high energy levels. Choose easy-to-digest proteins such as eggs, cottage cheese, chicken, turkey breasts, Greek yogurt and nut butter for all the nutrition.

Recover Lost Glycogen

Exercise uses glycogen stores in the body for energy. After exercising, glycogen resynthesis starts and a healthy combination of proteins and carbs are needed for this purpose. Nutritionists/dietitians recommend consuming a meal which contains one quarter protein portion and the rest carbs portion within an hour after workout for maximum glycogen revival. Eat a second post-workout meal in the same nutrient proportion after two hours to fully replenish glycogen stores. Eat colorful fruits and veggies such as berries, carrots, broccoli, eggplant, sweet potatoes and leafy greens to absorb maximum antioxidants. Detailed explanation on antioxidant–free radical reaction is elaborated at www.firsteatright.com.

Avoid Injury

An athlete’s focus is solely on performance just before an event. He/she never tends to think of overuse injury that may happen due to overtraining and not giving enough time to recover fully. Each body part needs at least 48 hours of rest to avert overuse injury. Eat enough calories while balancing macronutrients (carbs, protein, fats) to avoid allowing the body to enter a catabolic state. Divide your plate into three where all the macronutrients occupy equal priority (1/3rd each) with a small portion dedicated to healthy fats (2 tablespoons). Carbs can be quinoa, brown rice, sweet potato, oats, fruits and vegetables; proteins can be salmon, chicken, tuna, turkey, eggs, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, beans and lentils and fats can be nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil and coconut oil.

Athletes have constant inflammation due to tissue damage and stress. Inflammation is good and bad. Some inflammation helps to repair tiny tears while some others can further aggravate tissue damage. Ensure to eat anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats (chia seeds, salmon, tuna, halibut and walnuts) and monounsaturated fats (almonds, avocado and olive oil) while decreasing the intake of pro-inflammatory omega-6 fats (vegetable oils) to keep inflammation in check.

Safeguard Muscle Mass

Increase resting metabolic rate with increased muscle mass while training your body to use fat as a fuel source for activities to decrease body fat percentage. Ensure that you eat low-glycemic carb foods (produce & whole grains) to keep blood sugar and insulin levels in check. Every meal should include a combination of the macronutrients to prevent increase in body fat percentage and keep insulin levels in check. These macronutrients when consumed along with fresh and whole foods help the athlete minimize the risk of injury, enhance recovery and repair the damaged tissues to ensure that the athlete pops back to the desired fitness quotient post an event.

 

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