Indians personify Western culture and celebrate Valentine’s Day and even Halloween. We are well acquainted with names such as Sachin Tendulkar and Aishwarya Rai. But do we even know that the Government of India has dedicated a special day called ‘National Sports Day’ to respect athletes for their contribution to sports or are we aware of the existence of a hockey player called Dhyan Chand on whose honor this day has been established? It is a straightforward ‘NO’ for most of us.
Dhyan Chand, the hockey wizard, steered the Indian hockey team to win three Olympic medals and scored more than 400 goals in his 22-year career. He is the best sportsman our country has ever produced and it is no surprise that the Government has baptized his birthday (August 29th) as ‘National Sports Day’.
Nutrition is the backbone for any sports, strength sports or endurance sports. Sports nutrition primarily deals with the consumption of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
Diet can affect the performance quotient of a person drastically, especially when you exercise vigorously for more than 90 minutes. Athletes need a diet rich in the following nutrients:
Carbohydrates are the main power houses of energy for any person and specifically, for an athlete. Consume enough carbs before, during and after exercise to replenish your body with fuel, postpone exhaustion during exercise and enable rapid recovery after exercise. Plan your diet such that you get 70% of your energy from healthy carbohydrate sources such as breads, fruits, vegetables, cereals and pasta. Instead of picking sports drinks or energy bars, choose fresh fruits drinks or whole fruits for best results.
Proteins are indispensable for strong muscles and many teen athletes have the wrong assumption that protein foods are magic pills that automatically help muscles grow. But, the reality is that muscle growth is a complex process and involves many other factors. Athletes need only slightly increased amounts (1.7 grams) of protein that non-athletes (1.2 to 1.4 grams). Milk is an excellent choice to fulfill your protein needs as it also contains great carbohydrate content in it. Other protein sources include legumes, beans, eggs, lean meats, fish and nuts.
Fats are yet another finest source of energy. Athletes and non-athletes need moderate amounts of healthy fats to keep them energized. Choose anything between avocados, nuts, vegetable oil, olive oil and fatty fish.
Vitamins, Minerals & Iron
Vitamins and minerals help to utilize the energy acquired from carbs, fats and protein and also help in muscle relaxation and contraction. A well-balanced diet automatically fulfills the required vitamin and mineral needs of athletes.
Iron plays a vital role in carrying oxygen to all cells in our body and this oxygen is required to create energy in our muscle cells. Iron shortfalls, especially in women athletes who lose iron through menstruation, can prevent this process from happening smoothly. Try to consume healthy animal foods that are rich in iron along with vitamin C-rich foods such as red capsicum and citrus fruits as these foods help to increase the absorption of iron.
Exercise can leave an athlete sweating and dehydrated, hurting his/her performance. Athletes are required to drink fluids often and sometimes in between their performance or exercise. Chilled fluids are recommended as they are quickly absorbed by the body and help the body to cool down.
Want to Plan your Diet?
Athletes work hard and sweat out to perform their level best and make the nation proud. A healthy diet that triggers the peak performance of athletes is essential to bring out the full potential of our players. Though there are sports drinks, energy bars and nutritional supplements that claim to accelerate performance, the best way to provide your body with energy is to eat real healthy foods. A sports nutritionist at www.firsteatright.com is the right person who can help an athlete plan his/her diet chart with real foods after evaluating his/her body type, fitness quotient and training regimen.
AVOID FRAUD. EAT SMART.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.