The first thing any athlete should understand is the importance of eating a healthy, balanced diet (תזונת ספורט). This includes a variety of nutrient-rich foods that provide energy, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy products and lean meats.
Carbohydrates are the body’s main fuel source and should be eaten in moderation. They are found in many nutrient-rich foods such as pasta, bread, rice and cereals, as well as fruit.
They help maintain normal blood sugar levels and allow the body to function longer and better during exercise. They also support the body’s ability to burn fat for energy and decrease the risk of hypoglycemia, a condition in which blood sugar levels drop too low.
Protein is a nutrient that plays a key role in the growth and development of muscles. Athletes need adequate levels of proteins to ensure that they build strong muscles and are able to train properly, recover efficiently and compete at their best.
Athletes should aim to consume a minimum of 30 percent of their daily calorie intake as protein. They should also eat at least three meals per day and avoid fasting before or during exercise.
There are also several specialized supplements that can be helpful for athletes. These include amino acids, vitamins and minerals such as zinc, potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and iron.
Foods that are rich in carbohydrates should make up a significant portion of an athlete’s diet, as they provide energy during training and competition and aid recovery. They should be chosen carefully to ensure that they provide the right balance of nutrients to support the performance and health of an individual athlete.
It is also important to eat a good amount of dietary fat. It is essential for muscle function, including the conversion of glucose into energy. Consuming too much dietary fat can lead to weight gain, which may impact an athlete’s performance and cause injury.
Water is another nutrient that should be included in every meal and snack. It is essential to replenish lost fluids during training and competition, as they are the body’s natural cooling mechanism. Drinking plenty of water is particularly important for athletes competing in hot weather, as they may lose more fluids than usual through sweat.
Athletes should aim for at least two fluid-rich snacks per day and a drink of water after each workout. These snacks should be a combination of complex carbohydrates (like oatmeal, sweet potatoes, or 100 percent whole-wheat bread) and protein to provide an adequate energy source and aid in recovery.
They should be consumed at least 30 minutes before, during and after an exercise session. A sports dietitian can provide personalized recommendations for carbohydrate, protein and fat intake to suit the specific needs of an individual athlete.
Sports nutrition is a broad interdisciplinary field, focusing on the science behind and application of proper nutrition for athletic competition. It is a growing area of research, as more and more people are becoming interested in how the human body uses nutrition to enhance performance.
The goal of sports nutrition is to maximize your performance by providing the body with a proper amount of food types (carbohydrates, protein, fats), fluids and nutrients. The right diet can fuel the athletic potential and results that athletes across the globe seek, while preventing early fatigue, injury and illness.
Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for your body, and you need to consume a good amount each day to supply your muscles with enough glucose, or "blood sugar," to work properly. You should eat a variety of foods that contain carbohydrates, including fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and low-fat dairy products.
You should also limit saturated or trans fats, which are unhealthy. These fatty foods have been linked to heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
Athletes should limit their total dietary fat to 30 percent of their total calories. They should eat a small amount of healthy fats each day, like olive oil, nuts and seeds.
Dietary fats provide energy for your brain and other parts of the body, help with hormone production, and serve as structural components of cell membranes. They also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties that help your body recover from exercise.
Consume a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other nutritious foods to meet your daily needs for carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals. You should try to avoid refined or processed carbohydrates, such as white bread and pasta, and instead eat whole grains and unrefined fruits, vegetables and legumes.
Eating a small amount of carbohydrate several days before an endurance event can boost your energy and improve your performance. You should eat a substantial breakfast, lunch and snack on the day of the competition (fruits, bagels with peanut butter and jelly or other easily digestible foods).
In addition to the energy provided by the carbohydrates in your diet, you should also consider your intake of calcium, vitamin D and iron. These vitamins and minerals are important for bone health, muscle contraction, normal enzyme activity and other bodily functions.
You should eat a small amount of protein each day for optimum muscle repair and growth. Athletes should aim to consume 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kg of body weight, depending on their activity level and diet.
It's also important to drink water and other electrolyte-rich fluids before, during and after exercise. Your body loses sodium and potassium during exercise, and you need these to replace them. The American Dietetic Association (ADA) recommends consuming 400 mL to 600 mL of cold water 2 h before exercise and 150 mL to 300 mL every 15 min to 20 min during exercise.
The ADA also recommends drinking a sports drink during exercise to replenish lost nutrients. The most effective drinks are those that contain balanced electrolytes without added sugars, such as Gatorade or coconut water.