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.


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.