Nutritional needs of athletes

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|Nutritional Needs of Athletes |

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|From and |

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|Whether you're a competitive athlete, someone who exercises for health and fitness or a sedentary individual, you need the same |

|type of nutrients - in different amounts. However, some athletes also need more calories or fluids because of the intensity of |

|their sports or training program. Exercise or training may increase calorie needs by as much as 1,000 to 1,500 calories each day.|

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|Just like everyone else, athletes need to eat a diet that contains appropriate amounts of carbohydrate, protein, vitamins and |

|minerals. The general guidelines are: |

|55 to 60% of calories from carbohydrates (60 to 69% if engaging in a competition) |

|No more than 30% from fat |

|10 to 15% of calories from protein |

|The exact percentages may vary slightly for some athletes, based on their sports or training program. |

|Carbohydrates Provide Energy |

|The body uses a combination of fat and carbohydrate as energy sources for most activities. The length and intensity of your |

|workouts, your level of fitness and your diet will affect the type of fuel your body uses. For short-term, high-intensity |

|activities like sprinting, athletes rely mostly on carbohydrates for energy. In low-intensity activities such as walking, the |

|body uses more fat for energy. |

|Carbohydrates are the body's preferred source of energy. There are two groups: simple carbohydrates, or sugars, and complex |

|carbohydrates, or starches, which are found in foods like breads, cereals and pasta, as well as many fruits and vegetables. Your |

|body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose that your blood carries to your cells for energy. The body can't differentiate |

|between glucose that comes from starches or sugars; however, because the simple carbohydrates are frequently high in calories and|

|fat, experts and athletes usually prefer complex carbohydrates to provide energy for working muscles. |

|Protein Needs |

|Athletes who eat diets that include a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains probably don't need vitamin and mineral |

|supplements. However, vegetarians or athletes who avoid an entire food group (who never drink milk, for example) may need a |

|supplement to make up for the vitamins and minerals not being supplied by food. A multivitamin with 100% of the recommended |

|dietary allowance for vitamins and minerals may be recommended. |

|Some athletes eat extra protein or take protein supplements to help them gain muscle weight. However, according to The |

|President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, the true secret to building muscle is training hard and consuming enough |

|calories. Most American diets provide plenty of protein; daily intake of 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is|

|sufficient for muscle mass gain. That's 68 to 102 grams of protein per day for a 150-pound person. You can get that much protein |

|in an 8- to 12-ounce steak or in a 6-ounce hamburger with 2 ounces of cheddar cheese and an 8-ounce glass of milk. |

|Getting Adequate Iron |

|The part of our red blood cells that carries oxygen to the body is hemoglobin, which contains iron. Because muscles need oxygen |

|to produce energy, low iron levels may fail to provide sufficient oxygen and may cause fatigue. Symptoms of iron deficiency |

|include fatigue, irritability, dizziness, headaches and lack of appetite; often there are no symptoms, however. Athletes who |

|participate in endurance sports are more likely to suffer from iron deficiency or iron-deficiency anemia than those involved in |

|power or strength activities; female athletes, who lose iron each month with their menstrual cycle, are also at higher risk of |

|iron deficiency and iron-deficiency anemia. Vegetarian athletes are also at higher risk for iron deficiency and anemia. |

|A blood test is the best way to find out if your iron level is low. Red meat is the richest source of iron, with almost 1 |

|milligram of iron in each ounce of steak. Iron is also found in fish, poultry, fortified breakfast cereals, beans and green leafy|

|vegetables. Men should get 10 milligrams of iron a day; women should get 15 milligrams. Iron supplements should not be taken |

|without proper medical supervision because too much iron can cause constipation, diarrhea and nausea. Iron can also interfere |

|with the absorption of other nutrients such as copper and zinc. |

|Fluid Intake |

|Vigorous and lengthy workouts can place an athlete at risk for dehydration. Dehydration occurs when a person loses too much fluid|

|through urine and sweat, and can cause dizziness, fatigue and dry mouth. Because the body is comprised of two-thirds water, fluid|

|is necessary for optimal performance. |

|How much water should you drink? Non-athletes are encouraged to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day, so athletes should be|

|sure to drink at least that amount. Your urine color is always a good indicator of hydration level: you should be drinking enough|

|water so that your urine is pale yellow or straw-colored. |

|Athletes who compete in endurance sports such as marathons and triathlons should talk to a sports medicine specialist about using|

|electrolyte replacements (such as drinks, bars or gels) during long practices or competitions. These replacements offer the added|

|benefit of rebuilding diminished stores of glycogen and are usually required after an hour of exercise or for workouts or |

|competitions exceeding an hour. |

Daily nutritional options to consider

Soluble Fiber Non-soluble Fiber

|Oat bran (although many commercial oat bran muffins |Whole-wheat breads |

|and waffles actually have little fiber) | |

|Oatmeal |Wheat cereal |

|Beans and legumes |Wheat bran |

|Peas |Rice (except for white rice) |

|Carrots |Barley |

|Sweet potatoes |Cabbage |

|Rice bran |Beets |

|Barley |Brussels sprouts |

|Citrus fruits |Turnips |

|Strawberries |Cauliflower |

|Bananas |Fruits and vegetables with skin |

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Protein Sources

|Beef, poultry, pork and lamb |

|Fish and shellfish |

|Dairy products, including cottage cheese, cheese, yogurt and milk |

|Eggs, egg whites or egg substitutes |

|Dry beans, peas, oats and legumes |

|Tofu and soy products |

|Nuts and seeds |

Healthy Carbohydrate Foods List with Good Carbohydrate Grams

|BEANS & PEAS |AMOUNT |CARBS (grams) |

|Black beans |1/4 cup dry |23 |

|Black beans |1/2 cup cooked |18 |

|Garbanzo beans |1/4 cup dry |28 |

|Garbanzo (Chickpeas) |1/2 cup cooked |18 |

|Kidney beans |1/4 cup dry |29 |

|Kidney beans |1/2 cup cooked |20 |

|Lentils |1/4 cup dry |28 |

|Lentils |1/2 cup cooked |20 |

|Lima Beans |1/4 cup dry |22 |

|Lima Beans |1/2 cup cooked |20 |

|Navy Beans |1/4 cup dry |32 |

|Navy Beans |1/2 cup cooked |29 |

|Pinto Beans |1/4 cup dry |29 |

|Pinto Beans |1/2 cup cooked |22 |

|Soybeans |1/4 cup dry |13 |

|Soybeans |1/2 cup cooked |9 |

|Split Peas |1/4 cup dry |26 |

|Split Peas |1/2 cup cooked |21 |

|DAIRY |AMOUNT |CARBS (grams) |

|Blue cheese |1 oz |0.7 |

|Cheddar cheese |1 oz |0.4 |

|Cottage cheese, 2% fat |1/2 cup |4 |

|Egg |1 extra large |1 |

|Feta cheese |1 oz |1 |

|Milk, 1% fat |1 cup |8 |

|Milk, fat-free |1 cup |13 |

|Mozzarella cheese |1 oz |0.8 |

|Parmesan cheese |1 Tbsp. |0.2 |

|Provolone cheese |1 oz |0.6 |

|Ricotta cheese |1/2 cup |6 |

|Swiss cheese |1 oz |1 |

|Yogurt, low-fat |1 cup |17 |

|Yogurt, fat-free |1 cup |18 |

|FRUITS (raw) |AMOUNT |CARBS (grams) |

|Apple |5 oz |21 |

|Apricot |3 (4 oz ea.) |12 |

|Avocado |1/2 (3 oz) |7 |

|Blackberries |1 cup |18 |

|Blueberries |1 cup |21 |

|Cantaloupe |1 cup |13 |

|Cranberries |1/2 cup |6 |

|Grapefruit |1/2 (4 oz) |10 |

|Grapes |1 cup |16 |

|Guava |1 (3 oz) |11 |

|Kiwi |1 (2-1/2 oz) |11 |

|Mango |1/2 (3-1/2 oz) |18 |

|Nectarine |1 (5 oz) |16 |

|Orange |1 (4-1/2 oz) |15 |

|Papaya |1/2 (5-1/2 oz) |15 |

|Peach |1 (3-1/2 oz) |10 |

|Pear |1 (6 oz) |25 |

|Pineapple |1 cup |19 |

|Raspberries |1 cup |14 |

|Strawberries |1 cup |11 |

|Tangerine |1 (3 oz) |9 |

|Watermelon |1 cup |12 |

|NUTS & SEEDS |AMOUNT |CARBS (grams) |

|Almonds |1 oz |6 |

|Brazil nuts |1 oz |4 |

|Cashews |1 oz |9 |

|Coconut, raw |1 oz |4 |

|Macadamia nuts |1 oz |4 |

|Peanuts |1 oz |6 |

|Pecans |1 oz |5 |

|Pistachios |1 oz |7 |

|Pumpkin seeds |1 oz |5 |

|Sesame seeds |1 Tbsp. |1 |

|Sunflower |1 oz |5 |

|Walnuts |1 oz |3 |

|VEGETABLES |AMOUNT |CARBS (grams) |

|Alfalfa sprouts, raw |1/2 cup |1 |

|Asparagus |1/2 cup cooked |4 |

|Butterhead lettuce |1 cup raw |2 |

|Broccoli |1/2 cup cooked |4 |

|Brussels Sprouts |1/2 cup cooked |7 |

|Cabbage |1/2 cup cooked |4 |

|Carrot |1 (2-1/2 oz) |7 |

|Cauliflower |3 florets |3 |

|Celery |1/2 cup diced |2 |

|Chinese Cabbage |1/2 cup cooked |2 |

|Chili Peppers |1 Tbsp. |1 |

|Corn (sweet) |1 ear |19 |

|Cucumber |5 oz raw |4 |

|Edamame, fresh soybeans |1/2 cup raw |14 |

|Edamame |1/4 cup cooked |10 |

|Eggplant |1/2 cup cooked |3 |

|Garlic |1 clove |1 |

|Ginger Root |1 Tbsp. raw |1 |

|Green Bell Peppers |1/2 cup raw |3 |

|Iceberg Lettuce |1-1/2 cups raw |3 |

|Mushrooms |1/2 cup cooked |4 |

|Okra |1/2 cup cooked |6 |

|Onions |1/2 cup cooked |7 |

|Radishes |1/2 cup raw |2 |

|Red Bell Peppers |1/2 cup raw |3 |

|Red Cabbage |1/2 cup cooked |4 |

|Romaine lettuce |1-1/2 cups raw |2 |

|Scallions |1/2 cup raw |4 |

|Spinach |1/2 cup cooked |3 |

|Swiss Chard |1/2 cup cooked |4 |

|Zucchini |1/2 cup cooked |4 |

|WHOLE GRAINS |AMOUNT |CARBS (grams) |

|Bread, whole wheat |1 slice |14 |

|Bread, multi grain |1 slice |17 |

|Oatmeal, cooked |1 cup |25 |

|Pancake, buckwheat mix |1/3 cup (3 cakes) |33 |

|Pancake, whole grain mix |1/3 cup (3 cakes) |28 |

|Pasta, whole wheat |1 cup cooked |37 |

|Popcorn, popped |3-1/2 cups |19 |

|Rice, basmati brown |1/4 cup dry |31 |

|Rice, brown |1/4 cup dry |33 |

|Rice, brown |1/2 cup cooked |22 |

|Rice, wild |1/2 cup cooked |18 |

|Rye bread | | |

Recommendations for hydration before and after sports activities

|Pre-event meal 2-3 cups water |

|2 hours before 2-2 1/2 cups water |

| 1/2 hour before 2 cups water |

|Every 10-15 minutes during the event 1/2 cup cool (45-55 degrees) water |

|After event 2 cups fluid for each pound lost |

|Next day Drink fluids frequently (it may take 36 hours to re-hydrate completely). |

The Pre-Game Meal

A pre-game meal three to four hours before the event allows for optimal digestion and energy supply. Most authorities recommend small pre-game meals that provide 500 to 1,000 calories.

The meal should be high in starch, which breaks down more easily than protein and fats. The starch should be in the form of complex carbohydrates (breads, cold cereal, pasta, fruits and vegetables). They are digested at a rate that provides consistent energy to the body and are emptied from the stomach in two to three hours.

High-sugar foods lead to a rapid rise in blood sugar, followed by a decline in blood sugar and less energy. In addition, concentrated sweets can draw fluid into the gastrointestinal tract and contribute to dehydration, cramping, nausea and diarrhea. Don't consume any carbohydrates one and a half to two hours before an event. This may lead to premature exhaustion of glycogen stores in endurance events.

The Post-Game Meal

Regardless of age, gender or sport, the post-game competition meal recommendations are the same. Following a training session or competition, a small meal eaten within thirty minutes is very beneficial. The meal should be mixed, meaning it contains carbohydrate, protein, and fat. Protein synthesis is greatest during the window of time immediately following a workout and carbohydrates will help replenish diminished glycogen stores. However, consume food within the 30 minute window may be difficult for athletes—they often experience nausea or lack of hunger.  Options to address this difficulty include:

• Carbs you can drink that contain protein.  There are several liquid smoothies and beverages on the market that provide high protein and carbohydrates for replenishment.  One classic is chocolate milk.

• If that is difficult, fruit, popsicles, oranges, bananas, bagels, melon, or apple slices all would be better than not consuming any food.

The most important thing when it comes to eating is being smart, eating balanced small meals and having fun finding new healthy options. Use vitamins to supplement, drink plenty of water and exercise regularly.

Good Luck!

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