Sports Performance: Nutrition for Athletes

By Sports Medicine & Performance Center staff
Posted: November 9, 2015 - 3:24 PM



Players at any level need to give their bodies the right nutrients to help them train properly, play better and recover faster. Proper nutrition also helps prevent nagging little injuries that can hamper your performance. With a few modifications, you can minimize your nutrition to increase you performance and ability to recover. Try these strategies all year-round.

Eat consistently
Try to eat every 3-4 hours. Most athletes eat only 2-4 times a day. By eating three meals and 2-3 snacks daily, you can gain lean tissue, maintain energy levels and recover at an optimal rate. you can't afford to skip meals because you need to maintain your energy levels. Develop a regular eating plan that has you fueling up 5-6 times a day, including before and after workouts.

Apply the 2/3 rule
Eat two-thirds of your calories by the time two-thirds of your day is over. This helps you fuel your body when it needs to optimize performance, recovery and repair.

Have a post-recovery snack
To optimize recovery, eat 15-30 minutes after your workout/game. Your snack should contain at least 6-20 grams of protein and 30-60 grams of carbohydrates. Try 12 oz. of low-fat chocolate milk, for example.

Limit junk foods
The body doesn't use this type of food to build muscle, burn fat or create sustainable energy. So consume it in moderation. Junk food is typically high in sugars and saturated fats. Limit fried foods, soda, candy and other sweets.

Beverages
You need to say hydrated, particularly before and during practices and games. Water is your best choice. The amount of water you need to drink each day will vary with your size and weight. Sports drinks can work as a supplement, but they tend to be sugary and high in calories. So don't overdo them.

Nutrition on the go
Plan ahead. Pack a bag to take with you to eat between games or before practices. Include sports bars, trail mix. whole-grain crackers and beef jerky (natural and chemical-free with no MSG or sodium nitrate). When you go out to eat, order something lean, like grilled chicken, instead of something fried.

Vitamins and supplements
Vitamins should be necessary if you are eating a truly well-balanced diet. Be cautious about using supplements and always get your doctor's guidance.

For more sports medicine articles and information on the Sports Medicine & Performance Center at the University of Kansas Hospital, go to sportsmedicine.kumed.com or follow @KUSportsMed1 on twitter.

 


 

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