Compared to the average person, an athlete works out intensely. Athletes have regular training sessions that require them to burn energy. This is why they also have to keep a close eye on their diet.
Have you ever encountered an athlete and seen him or her eat so much? This is exactly the reason why. Their bodies burn the carbohydrates they eat because of their intense workout sessions. However, you don’t have to be an athlete to have this kind of workout. If you have a fitness goal in mind and you subject yourself to 60-90 minutes of gym time regularly, then you are also a candidate for the nutrition tips below.
- Stuff yourself with carbohydrates
First-time athletes think that their workout is for them to be fit. But this is far from the truth because most of the time, you will be hitting the gym for strength training exercises. Because of that, you have to load up on carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are the key nutrient your body needs. When carbs are digested, your body turns them to sugar, specifically called glucose, that will become the energy you will need for an intense 90-minute workout.
If you know you’re in for high-intensity activities, here are a few things you can do to load up on carbs:
- Your diet should contain 70% carbohydrates
- Stock up on pasta, bread, rice, fruits, and vegetables
- Exercise 30 minutes after you’ve eaten a carbohydrate-filled meal
- Avoid sweet foods before exercising to prevent dehydration
- After exercising, fill your body with a full meal with a lot of carbohydrates to replenish the glucose lost during a workout
- Hydrate before, during, and after
Hydration has always been important to athletes whether they work out or not. Drinking 8 glasses a day is enough if you won’t go through high-intensity exercises. But if you know you have training on that day, 8 glasses won’t be enough.
Before you work out, avoid drinking too much water because it will be heavy on your stomach. You don’t want to jog around and feel the water and its weight moving along with you. Instead, you can hydrate yourself every 15 minutes into your workout with 8-10 fl oz of water. Continue doing this until you finish your workout.
After exercising, this is when you can drink more than that amount. You can also opt to drink electrolytes to replenish what you’ve lost during the exercises. Sweating releases fluids and electrolytes and the latter is important in transmitting commands to you nerves.
There are a number of sports drinks you can buy to replenish lost electrolytes. It is also better to drink chilled drinks than warm or room-temperature ones. This is because your body easily absorbs chilled drinks compared to others and at the same time, it helps your body cool down faster.
- Don’t forget vegetables
If you’ve noticed, athletes always turn their attention to carbs and protein to boost their body and muscles. However, what they’re forgetting is that vegetables are a rich source of nutrients that help break down those carbs and protein to be useful to the body. Moreover, vegetables contain high water content which is also useful in keeping your body hydrated.
When incorporating vegetables to a meal, put at least two kinds of green leafy vegetables. These will be enough to maintain your health and to boost your metabolism.
And did you know that eating vegetables can help you lose weight? If you’re an athlete with a strict weight requirement, then stocking up on vegetables could be an option for you too.
- Give your body some rest
After all the dietary requirements are met and you have done your workout, you can take time off to cool down. The best way to balance everything is to have enough rest so that your muscles and your digestive system can take that time to cool down as well. Eight hours of sleep is recommended for athletes especially on the day of their big game.
Since athletes are always subjected to intense workouts, they should be extra careful with their food intake and their lifestyle. Although nutrition plays a huge role, it’s not the only thing that affects performance and health. Seeing a nutritionist or a doctor regularly is a good way of knowing if you are healthy all throughout.