We all need food as a source of nourishment to grow and stay healthy. Food also gives us energy to perform and play; and helps rebuild and repair injured tissue. So think about our Olympic Athletes. What do you think they’re eating? Nutritional needs can vary based on the type of sport being played and individual needs of athletes. Although you may not all be ready to make your Olympic debut, you can properly fuel for whatever exercise you choose to do!
Here are some tips to stay nourished while playing, as recommended by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Hydration: It is important to keep yourself hydrated while playing, especially in long duration sports like tennis and soccer.
Carbs: Eating carbs will help fuel your workout. If you’re partaking in sustained exercise over 1 hour like cycling or long-distance running, foods like bananas, high energy bars, gels and drinks rich in carbs are important to provide energy boosts during your exercise.
Electrolytes: Electrolytes may be lost with sweat during endurance sports and must be replenished along with fluids and carbs.
The International Olympic Committee’s 2010 Consensus Statement on Sports Nutrition recommends eating high carb foods before and after sports to store and replenish sufficient energy reserves, and that timely protein intake helps build muscle tissue. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends a nutrient-dense, well-balanced diet high in quality carbs (like whole grains, fruits and vegetables), moderate in healthy fats (like avocados, plant-based oils, nuts, tahini and fish), and adequate in protein (beans, lean meat, seafood, fish, tofu, milk, yogurt and cheese) for endurance training and racing. You can also find useful tips for nutrient needs to build and maintain muscle mass, and eating well before working out at eatright.org and usaswimming.org.