Sports And Nutrition

Athletes who want a winning edge should get the right kind of nutrition. When you drink enough water and eat a balanced diet, your body can produce energy efficiently and fuel top performance. You can make the most of your athletic talent and acquire more strength, power and endurance when you train. Base your diet on a variety of elements including your age, size and physical condition; and the type of exercise you’re doing. See your doctor for some individualized nutrition advice.

Your Hydration

Water is the most important element in sports nutrition. It makes up about 60 percent of your total body weight and is involved in almost every bodily process. Your body cannot make or store water, so you must replace what you eliminate (i.e., urine, sweat). Everybody should drink at least two quarts (eight cups) of water everyday, and athletes need more than that. Drink plenty of liquid before, during and after sports events to stay hydrated and avoid overheating. When you workout or compete, especially during hot weather, try to closely match the amount of liquid you drink with the amount you lose for sweat.

Your Sources Of Fuel

Eating a balanced diet is another key element to sports nutrition. The right combination of fuel (calories) from carbohydrates, proteins and fats gives you energy for top performance.

Carbohydrates: The most important source of fuel, carbohydrates, come in fruits, vegetables, pastas, breads, cereals, rice, etc. and should provide about 60-70 percent of your daily calories. Your body converts sugars and starches in carbohydrates into energy (glucose) or stores it in the liver and muscle tissues (glycogen), giving you endurance and power for some highly intense, short-duration activities. If your body runs out of its carbohydrate fuel during exercise, it will burn fat and protein for energy, causing your performance levels to drop. This may happen if you start exercising without any or little muscle glycogen, exercise heavily for more than an hour without eating more carbohydrates, do repeated high-intensity, short-duration exercises or participate in multiple events or training sessions in a single day. Use a carbohydrate strategy to stay energized so you can perform at your best.

Nutrition Before Competing

What you eat several days before endurance activities will affect your performance. Your food the morning of a sports competition can effectively ward off hunger, keep blood sugar levels adequate as well as aid hydration. Avoid high protein or high fat foods on the day of an event, as these can put stress on the kidneys and take a long time for you to digest. Make sure you empty your upper bowel by competition time.

Loading On Carbohydrates

To avoid running out of carbohydrates for energy, some endurance athletes like long-distance runners, swimmers and bicyclists try to load their muscles with glycogen by eating some extra carbohydrates in combination with doing depletion exercises several days before an event.


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Natural Nutritional Products

Nature made nutritional products is more than just a supplement; there are great resources like just like it for your overall health!

You may have heard such words as “glycemic index” or “glycemic load” when it comes to certain foods. The glycemic index of food is important when constructing a healthy, balanced diet as well as to promote overall better health.

What is the glycemic index (GI)? The GI of food is an indication of how fast sugar can enter our bloodstream, or the immediate effect of eating carbohydrates on the blood sugar level. GI refers to the carbohydrate content in food and is ranked in numbers. What this means is that carbohydrate in foods is then broken down into glucose, or blood sugar, and the higher the GI number is, the faster the food empties into the bloodstream after digestion.

What is the difference between the GI and the GL? As described above, the GI indicates the carbohydrates in food and its potential to raise the blood sugar levels. The glycemic load is essentially the effect of food on our blood sugar levels.

You can calculate the GL by multiplying the GI of a certain food by the number of carbohydrate grams contained in the food and then dividing the total by 100. A lower GL indicates that there’s a gradual release of glucose (sugar) into the blood from digestion. Therefore, blood sugar levels aren’t likely to rise very quickly. It’s recommended to have a lower glycemic load, and to consume mostly food with a lower GI in general.

How do you determine the GI of certain foods? To determine the glycemic index of any food, typically, individuals are given a test food that provides 50 grams of carbohydrate and a control food (white bread or pure glucose) providing the same amount of carbohydrate but on different days (JAMA, 2002).

Blood samples for the determination of glucose are taken before eating and at regular intervals after eating over the next several hours. The changes in blood glucose over time are then plotted in a curve.

The glycemic index can be calculated as the area under the glucose curve after the test food is eaten, divided by the corresponding area after the control food is consumed. The value will be multiplied by 100 to represent a percentage of the control food. (Source: Linus Pauling Institute webpage:

Please note: Different sources can list the GI of foods. You’ll probably notice some differences in the GI of foods between different sources. (For example, a baked potato may have a GI of 85 in one source, while another source may cite its GI as 93).

What can determine the GI number? Refined carbohydrates in sweets (cakes, biscuits, etc.) will be likely to have a higher GI (causing an immediate rise in the blood sugar). There are of course some exceptions, but in general, food with a high fibre content such as whole grains and high fibre cereals tend to have a lower GI (desirable). That is because they don’t produce a rapid rise in blood sugar after eating them.

Tips To Lower The Glycemic Load:

• Increase your consumption of fruit, vegetables, legumes (peas and beans), nuts, and whole grains.

• Use whole grains. “Whole” means that the hull or skin is still attached, which slows down the assimilation of the carbohydrates inside. An obvious example is brown and white rice. Brown rice is still encased in its hull whereas white rice isn’t.

• Decrease your consumption of sugary foods like cookies, cakes, sweets, and soft-drinks.


John Rifkind is a contributing editor at This article may be reproduced provided that its complete content, links and author byline are kept intact and unchanged. No additional links permitted. Hyperlinks and/or URLs must remain both human clickable and search engine spiderable.