To many people, sports nutrition is about carbo-loading for a competition or having the latest sports food or supplement. However, the ‘big-ticket item’ with the most potential to influence your sports performance is your training diet. On the basis of time alone, your training diet is the aspect of your total nutrition most likely to make an impact on your body.
It also lays the groundwork that is critical to your long-term success. Everyday eating must keep you healthy and uninjured, and in top shape for your sport. And it must support you through all the training that is needed to get you to the starting line or opening bounce.
Food For Sports Perfor Mance
not to mention the lifestyles, of all athletes! While the focus and details will differ from one athlete to the next, there are certain goals that are common to all sports. Checklist 1.1 will help you to rate the success of your training diet. If you are achieving all these goals with your everyday eating plan, then congratulate yourself for having achieved peak training nutrition
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Enjoy a variety of food
Most countries have a set of dietary guidelines and must begin with a recommendation to ‘eat a variety of foods every day. Some qualify this, saying, eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods every day. Others have even quantified this information the old Japanese guidelines recommended that we ‘eat at least thirty different foods each day’. But what does variety really mean, and why does it come up over and over as the No. 1 nutrition recommendation?
Eat the right type and amount of fats and oils
In the old days, we simply said ‘eat less fats and oils’, based on the observation that the typical Australian diet contains more fat than is necessary or healthy. The direct benefits of cutting back on fats include promoting healthy weight or weight loss and reducing the risk of some lifestyle diseases. Indirect benefits include making room in the energy budget for some more valuable foods and nutrients. Nutrition guidelines recommend that total average fat intake be reduced by a quarter, to less than 30 percent of total energy.
For people needing to reduce body fat, a further reduction to 20–25 percent of intake may help to reduce total energy intake. But guidelines for a lower average fat intake were never meant to promote a ‘no-fat’ intake. After all, fats and oils are widely distributed in foods and have many benefits. They provide a concentrated source of energy, and they make meals tasty, satisfying and rich in texture. They also supply essential fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins, which are important to health
Eat the right amount of nutrient-dense carbohydrate foods
If the messages regarding fats and oils needed fine-tuning, then it’s fair to say that the carbohydrate message has required an overhaul. When the original guidelines that promoted a higher carbohydrate intake were released, nutrition experts had in mind that people would eat more wholesome, fiber- and nutrient-rich foods such as wholegrain bread
and cereals, fruits, and vegetables to replace their reduced intake of foods high in saturated fats. We expected benefits in terms of better fuel intake for active people, lower food-energy density to assist with weight control, and overall improvements in nutrient density (more vitamins and minerals per mouthful). We didn’t anticipate that the food industry would respond with a huge array of low-fat carbohydrate-rich foods, or that consumers would respond by eating them in such huge amounts.