Proper nutrition is essential for not only peak athletic performance, but overall good health. Regardless of your level of competition you are affected by your diet, and focusing on proper nutrition can drastically improve your performance and quality of life. Choosing the right diet may vary greatly depending on your specific sport so Scoutlete will be doing a ‘Eat For Your Sport’ series specific to some of the more prevalent sports today. Follow Scoutlete on Facebook, Twitter and Linked in for updates and information on your specific sport.
Different sports have different athletic demands and therefore different nutritional requirements, so it is important to do your research and make sure that you are eating right for your sport. Scoutlete is dedicated to helping you, the Student-Athlete, be the best you can be and so read on for some of our introductory nutrition tips.
Knowing not only what to eat but when to eat it is one of the most basic nutritional steps and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Countless athletes place an emphasis on pre-game meals believing that these are the key element to heightened performance, but meals throughout the training week and even during the game, are just as important. Pre-game meals, including hydration, are an opportunity to tweak your fluid and carbohydrate levels to help guarantee you are feeling confident and in game ready shape, but are not the only step for guaranteeing your body is ready to perform at its highest possible level. Carbs are the body’s main source of fuel during exercise, so as an active Student-Athlete it is important to ensure that your diet consists of carbohydrate-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grain products. Keep in mind that is important to focus on what you eat before, during and after as what you eat can drastically impact both your performance and recovery.
- As with everything, individual needs have to be considered, so the timing or size of your meal may vary. Meals consumed before you exert yourself are only useful once they have been digested and absorbed, so you need to give your body time to digest. Try to time your pre-game meals, or snacks, so that the fuel is available when you need it. Keep in mind that the digestion time will vary depending on the type of food. For example, foods higher in fibre, fat or protein will take longer to digest than others. It is also important to remember that large quantities of food will take longer to digest. As a simple rule of thumb the longer the time between eating and game time, the more you should be able to eat.
- Before a game your intake should be aimed at boosting your energy levels, keeping you hydrated and extending the length of time you can play for. Try and focus on providing yourself with carbohydrates while keeping your fat and protein intake low and your fibre intake moderate; this will aid digestion.
- During a game it is important to keep hydrated and, depending on the length and intensity of the game, re-introduce some carbohydrates in order to help extend time to exhaustion. During a game the main goal is to ensure that you are drinking enough to replace all the fluid you are burning off and losing in sweat. Sports drinks provide hydration as well as some carbohydrates and may be a good option. Something to consider is weighing yourself before and after a game to determine the amount of weight lost due to sweating, this can help to give you an idea of how much you may need to be drinking during and after a game.
- Post-game is when you need to focus on helping your body recover, begin to store energy again and repair muscles. An emphasis needs to be placed on replenishing stores of energy as quickly as possible following a game and this becomes more and more important the more often you are competing. Once again, a focus should be placed on foods high in carbs as well as hydrating. Carbohydrates and fluids should be consumed within half an hour to two hours of game time, in addition to your regular meals. In order to aid in the rebuilding of muscle ensure your meal contains a reasonable amount of protein as well. Large carbohydrate meals should consist of high GI foods as replenishing your glycogen stores is also very important. Even under ideal conditions it can take over 20 hours to restore carbo0hydrate stores, so when competing regularly carbohydrate replenishment at regular intervals is crucial.
Just remember that proper nutrition can truly enhance your performance. By planning ahead and maintaining a balanced diet you can ensure that your body is receiving all of its vitamin and mineral requirements as well as enough protein to help promote muscle repair and growth. Try to use foods rich in unrefined carbs as the foundation of your diet while also emphasizing hydration, with water always being the most important.
Tags: Eat For Your Sport, Nutrition, Parents, scoutlete, Student-Athlete