Balanced Diet for Athletes

Topics: Nutrition, Reference Daily Intake, Dietary Reference Intake Pages: 5 (1762 words) Published: August 2, 2012
Balanced Diet for Athletes

A balanced diet is a diet that provides all the essential nutrients in sufficient quantity and in the correct proportions to promote good health. The six main classes of nutrients are carbohydrate, fat, protein, vitamins, minerals, and water. Good nutrition is essential for optimal performance of athletes. The nutritional requirements differ among athletes and these depend on their age, body size, and intensity of their sport or training programme. In athletes, good nutrition plays a pivotal role for prevention of injuries, which are often due to nutritional deficiencies. In general, an active athlete needs much more daily calories, ranging from 2200 to 3300 calories per day. It is recommended that at least 60% of the calories in athlete’s diet come from carbohydrate, not more than 30% from fat and 10-15% from protein. Including a variety of foods in diet is also essential to ensure appropriate amount of vitamins and minerals. Lastly, adequate fibre should be included in the daily diet plan.

1. Carbohydrates
* Complex carbohydrates, such as spaghetti, potatos and grain poducts should be the main source of energy for athletes because it would be stored in body as glycogen, which serves as the main fuel for exercise during the first 90 minutes * Eating simple carbohydrates, like sugar or honey, especially before exertion should be avoided as they result in drastic blood glucose level fluctuations, which may lead to premature exhaustion and dehydration * For events that require heavy exercise for more than 90 minutes, carbohydrate loading by taking a high-carbohydrate diet (10-12 g per kg body weight) eaten for 2-3 days before the event allows glycogen storage spaces to be filled

2. Fats
* Maintain an adequate intake of the right kind of fats because it also serves as fuel to meet the increased energy demands of athletes in moderate to severe and prolonged exertions * Preferably of vegetable origin

* Restrict intake of saturated and trans fats but include omega 3 fatty acids through dietary and supplemental sources

3. Protein
* Different exercise may increase an athlete’s need for protein, endurance athletes eat between 1.2-1.4 g protein per kg of body weight per day whereas resistance and strength-trained athletes may need as much as 1.6-1.7 g protein per kg per day * Extra protein consumed is stored as fat and excessive intake may result in dehydration and increase in metabolic rate and therefore increase oxygen consumption * Thus, one of the major causes of fatigue is too much milk and animal protein.

4. Vitamins and Minerals
* Variety is the key to avoid vitamins and minerals deficiency * Diet should include a range of fruits, veggies, nut, dairy products and whole grains

5. Water
* Adequate water whould be taken before, during and after all events * Taking water or sports drink is a matter of personal choice but ensure to experiement with sports drinks during practice instead of trying them for the first time on the day of event * For continuous activities of 3-4 hours, consider taking carbohydrate solution such as 6-8% glucose solution during the event * Avoid drinking high carbohydrate drink (>10%) as it will delay the adsorption of water and may cause dehydration, cramps, nausea or diarrhoea * Avoid drinks containing caffeine as it can cause insomnia, restless, ringing of ears and acts as a diuretics, which may affect the performance of athletes during competition

Italian Food

Authentic Italian foods emphasize the use of fresh ingredients and healthy preparation methods. For example, olive oil is used instead of butter and cream, grilling and sautéing are preferred to deep-frying. One popular misconception is that Italian food is all pasta and pizza. Fresh vegetables like broccoli, eggplant, tomatoes, leafy greens, mushrooms, potatoes, legumes, zucchini and more are the heart of the an ideal Italian diet....
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