Dietary Guidelines and Nutrition Tips to Improve Your Sports Performance

Today nutrition is one of the key factors affecting a sports personís performance. The problem lies in the fact that most players are confused about what is proper nutrition and how to balance their food intake to get what their body requires.

The latest research says high carbohydrate 50-60%, low fat 15-20% and adequate protein 20-25% is the ideal. Eating plenty of carbohydrate is very important so that there is plenty of energy for your day-to-day training as well as energy stored in the muscles as glycogen, which can be used as needed. There should be good quantities of cereal, bread, chapatti, rice, etc. at each meal and plenty of fruits at least 3 numbers per day of fruits like banana, apple, pear, guava, oranges, etc.

There is a tendency to consume excess protein with the concept of muscle building. Protein is very important in a sportsmanís diet but it should not be excess as it can cause uric acid levels to rise and this can result in joint pain and kidney problem. Many young people tend to eat very large amounts of non-veg with the belief that they will have bigger muscles. This can result in high cholesterol and high urea and uric acid levels in the blood, which are very harmful for an athlete.

A normal person requires 1gm per kg ideal body wt. of protein per day. An athlete can take 1.2 gms protein per kg ieal body weight per day. So if you are 70kgs you need 85-90 gm protein per day. The dangerous thing is that most protein foods are high in their fat content so we need to be careful with our protein choices. Good sources of protein, which are low in fat, are skimmed or low fat milk (cream removed) dhals and pulses like channa, rajma, moong, etc. Young athletes may consume a whole egg daily and also eat one or two extra egg whites boiled as they are a very good source of high quality protein. Whole egg should not be more than one per day. Egg whites can be 3-4, a maximum number of egg whites can be eaten per day. E.g. One whole egg plus one white at breakfast, 2 egg whites with lunch or tea in a sandwich and 2 egg whites with dinner. Egg raw is use less as it cannot be digested and is just excreted in the bowels. So you can eat egg boiled or porched egg, but it must be fully cooked. If eating a fried egg, it must be cooked on both sides so that there is no liquid or uncooked portion in the egg. The same rule for scrambled egg or omelette, it should be fully cooked. Uncooked egg can also cause serious salmonella stomach infections.

Fish and chicken without skin are better than beef, mutton and pork, as they are low in fa., 2-3 pieces per day, not more and preferably at lunch rather than dinner. Dhal/pulse should be eaten twice a day, 1 cup at lunch time and 1 cup at dinner too. 3-4 cups of milk is needed daily for the protein and calcium requirement of a sports person. Cream (malai) must be removed as much as possible.

Fats that come in the seasoning of food should meet the fat need for the day. Besides this keep fatty foods like fried foods, nuts, chocolate, ice cream, Indian sweets, etc. to a minimum. Eating large amounts of this to gain weight is a wrong idea. Weight gain must be achieved only by increasing carbohydrate and protein at each meal and by ensuring every meal is eaten daily. Missing meals is very harmful for a sportsmanís body.

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