Ideal Balance of Nutrients for Improving Sports Performance

I am 19 years old and in competitive tennis I would be grateful if you could guide me as to how much carbohydrate, protein and fat I should consume. At my gym each person says a different balance. Can you clear this confusion for me?

Most Sports people are confused about the balance of carbohydrate, protein and fat in their diet. Some say eat more protein while some say more carbohydrate (starch). The latest research says high carbohydrate 50-60%, low fat 10-15% and adequate protein 25-30% 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. This should be supplied by good quantities of cereal, bread, rice or chapatti, at each meal and plenty of fruits daily at least 3 numbers 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 a player.

A normal person requires 1gm per kg ideal body weightt of protein per day. An athlete can take 1.2 to 1.5gm protein per kg 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 contents so we need to be careful with our protein choice. Good sources of protein, which are low in fat, are skimmed or low fat milk (cream removed) dhal and pulses like channa, rajma, moong, etc. Young athletes may consume a whole egg daily and also eat two to three extra egg whites boiled daily, as they are a very good source of high quality protein. Whole egg should not be more than one per day. Raw egg and half cooked eggs, should not be consumed as it cannot be digested and is just excreted in the bowels.

Fish and chicken without skin are better than beef, mutton and pork, as they are low in fat. 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 least at lunchtime and dinner too. 3-4 cups of Skimmed milk is needed daily for the protein and calcium.

Fats that come in the seasoning of food should meet the fat need for the day. Besides these fatty foods like fried foods, chips, chocolates, ice creams, etc. should be avoided or consumed to a minimum extent, only once or twice a week. Eating large amounts of these fatty foods 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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