Do you make sure that you have a decent pair of running shoes, baseball glove or tennis racket to participate in sports activities? Your body, too, requires the right fuel to support summer activities.
Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for working muscles. That’s why your diet should be based on foods high in carbohydrates such as grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes. Two thirds of your plate should be dedicated to these energizing, carbohydrate – rich foods.
Protein is important for building and repairing muscles and other tissues. Protein needs for strength and endurance athletes are higher, but most weekend sports enthusiasts don’t require extra protein. Two to three servings of meats (poultry, meat and fish) and alternatives (tofu, peanut butter, eggs, lentils) per day, where one serving of meat is equal to about the size of a deck of cards, is sufficient for most active adults.
Fluid is crucial to sports, especially during hot, humid weather. Our bodies are made up of 60 to 75% water. Water helps keep your body temperature normal and carries nutrients to and away from your cells. If you are not well-hydrated during physical activity, such as a game, practice, or sports camp, your performance will definitely suffer. Your muscles will not be able to get the nutrition that they need, as there won’t be enough water to carry the nutrients to the muscles.
In order to keep hydrated during activity, drink at least 2 cups of water 2 hours before activity, 2 cups fifteen minutes before the activity and ½ cup every fifteen minutes during the activity. Your thirst mechanisms are usually not the best way to determine if you need more water. If you know you will be participating in physical activity and especially if it is hot, make sure to drink lots of fluid. Plain water is usually fine, though sports drinks (or diluted fruit juice) may be preferable during endurance exercise lasting for more than 60 minutes.
Eating for sports is not much different than eating for overall general health. If you are training for a sports event, these nutrition tips can help you maximize your performance. If you are a weekend sports enthusiast, these tips can make you feel more invigorated and energized, as you will perform better. Above all, make sure to drink lots of fluid in warm, sunny weather.
Guest Post: By Susan Finkelstein, Registered Dietitian