We should all try to eat as healthy as possible. This is a fact because food is the best shield that protects us against diseases and viruses, especially right now. Also, you would be surprised to learn about the effect that nutrition has on your mood and mental well-being.
Proper nutrition becomes even more important when it comes to athletes and those who exercise on a regular basis. If you work out a few times a week, you need a lot of energy, and you can get it from the food you eat. In the following article, we will tell you why a healthy diet is significant for athletes, and also give you some tips and tell you what you should change in order to boost your energy levels.
1. Natural medicine
We have already mentioned this, and it is something that we are aware of. Foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, and so on are essential for our physical health. They can strengthen your immune system, and therefore, be the best ally against numerous diseases. Sure, exercising will make you strong, but there is a common misconception that this is enough. Well, it isn’t. You might seem healthy and strong, but this doesn’t always have to be true for your immune system.
2. Boost your performance
Exercising every day or every other day is not an easy task. In order to complete every session successfully, be efficient, and have enough energy to carry out the rest of the day, it is crucial to boost your energy levels. How to do this? Well, by eating healthy meals.
Think of the food as your fuel. The more fuel you have, the more strength you will have, meaning that these sessions will not be as tiring as they used to be. In addition, over time, you will be able to gradually increase their duration, which is a common goal all athletes have.
3. Prevent injuries
Regardless of the type of activity you engage in, injuries can happen. Sometimes they can occur if you don’t use the equipment properly, or on the other hand, if you are not strong enough to carry out some exercises. When it comes to the latter, the best way to prevent these from happening is to work on your strength. Naturally, if you have just started working out, you have to begin with some light exercises and work your way up. Also, a diet rich in all the significant nutrients will help you reach your goal faster, and more importantly, reach it injury-free.
4. Improve muscle recovery
Sore muscles are a common issue that athletes face after every visit to the gym or the field. As you surely know, these can not only be quite uncomfortable, but in some cases, they can greatly affect the rest of your day. Surely, there are numerous remedies you can use or book a relaxing massage. Still, healthy nutrition is one of the best ways to help your muscles recover faster. This doesn’t mean that your muscles will never get sore again, but it will take them a significantly shorter period of time to recover.
5. Help your metabolism
If you want to lose those extra pounds that have been annoying you, regular exercise is the way to go. Nevertheless, don’t forget about a healthy diet. We aren’t only talking about eating foods that don’t contain extra sugar, sodium, and calories, but about choosing food that can boost your metabolism and act as a fat burner. You can find a whole list of the foods on dietzones.com, and some of them are green tea, fatty fish, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and so on. It has been scientifically proven that these improve your body’s ability to burn fats, which is why they are perfect supplements, and it is crucial you include them in your diet.
What should your diet include?
Now that we have told you about some of the benefits of proper nutrition let us be more specific and discuss some foods that should be a part of your daily meals.
Nowadays, carbs are perceived as our worst enemy. Yes, they can be if your nutrition consists solely of them, but the truth is they can be one of your greatest assets if you exercise on a regular basis. Remember the fuel for your body that we have mentioned previously? Well, this is it.
Upon consuming carbs, they are broken into glucose that is stored in your muscles in the form of glycogen, and this compound fuels your body and gives you the strength and energy you need. Naturally, you should make sure that your intake of carbs is in accordance with the intensity of the workouts.
For example, if you enjoy brisk walking or yoga, you should eat around 2g of carbs per kg of your weight. If your sessions last for about an hour, you can increase the intake to 3g, and if you engage in high-intensity activities, you can eat up to 10g of carbs.
Your body won’t use proteins as a fuel, but these will do wonders for your muscles. That’s right. Not only will proteins help you build up your muscle strength, but they will also speed up the recovery process and prevent injuries. An average person needs about 1.2g of proteins per kg of body weight per day, but if you go to the gym a few times a week, you have to increase the intake. Nevertheless, you have to be careful because too many proteins can damage your kidneys over time. Instead of using supplements, you should eat eggs, lean meat, beans, fish, milk, and so on.
Finally, there are fats. You probably know that your body turns to fats when there aren’t enough carbs in your muscles. If you don’t work out, you should be really careful about the intake of these because they can easily lead to weight and health issues. On the other hand, when it comes to athletes, they can get enough of these from foods such as nuts, avocado, fatty fish, vegetable oil, and so on.
When it comes to working out, the golden rule is to drink a lot of fluids very often. No, you shouldn’t wait to feel the thirst because it’ll mean that you are already dehydrated. Not only can dehydration affect your performance, but it can also make you feel dizzy, nauseous, and even cause a headache. The average person needs around 2 liter of water per day, but when it comes to athletes, they have to increase the intake of water because they lose fluids much faster due to sweating. Lastly, don’t forget to replace lost electrolytes, and the best way to do this is to consume sports drinks.