When it comes to sports performance and athlete training, obviously working hard will help any athlete see results and reach their goals. However, another aspect that many athletes, especially young athletes, overlook is nutrition. Athletes should really pay attention to what they are eating and drinking each day, and try to consume foods that also help with their gains! Here are some athlete nutrition tips to help athletes of any age understand what, when, and how much to eat and drink!
Never skip breakfast
It may be cliche to say “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” but it’s true! Athletes should be eating breakfast every day, especially if they are training or have a practice/game that day. Breakfast is a great way for anyone to jump start their day by consuming the right nutrients. When eating breakfast, focus on at least getting three different food groups in, such as proteins, grains and fruits. These three nutrients are vital in giving you energy for your day and promoting healthy body functions.
Think about what you are eating before exercise/competition
Another thing all athletes should consider is what they are fueling their bodies with before training sessions, practices and games. Research has shown that when athletes consume berries around their workout, they have better inflammation and immune response to the workout. Other foods that are beneficial to eat before exercise include healthy carbohydrates such as pasta, brown rice, other fruits and vegetables. These foods will give you the energy you need!
Use protein as an anchor in your meals
All athletes should understand the importance of eating lean proteins, which helps with muscle growth and recovery. Basically, consuming proteins daily is essential for all high-performance athletes. The best time to fuel your body with proteins is within an hour of exercise, as that is when your body and muscles are tired and will consume the most nutrients. Proteins are what helps build muscles, and you should focus on eating lean protein each meal of the day.
Drink plenty of water
Another area of nutrition that is very important for sports performance athletes is proper hydration. Drinking water is one of the best ways to help your body recover, grow and it allows for you to work harder for a longer period of time. Each day, athletes should be drinking water well before exercise. According to the NCAA, athletes should drink about 16 ounces of water two hours before exercise and about 8 ounces of water 15 minutes before exercise. This allows you to begin your workouts fully hydrated, and will maximize your performance while minimizing injuries and muscle cramps. Immediately after exercise, athletes should be drinking 16 ounces for every pound lost. This will ensure athletes that they are properly hydrated for their next day of training, practice or game.
During a global pandemic, it may seem like there’s not a lot of athletes can be doing to better their performance. However, there are many things athletes can do to maintain their muscle mass and conditioning, including at-home workouts and proper athlete nutrition. Use this time to pay attention to what you are consuming and how it’s impacting your performance!