Athletes in particular need to pay attention to how they fuel their bodies with supplements and diet, and should tailor nutrition for their specific activity, according to an article by Wina Sturgeon in the Kansas City Star.
Sturgeon, the editor of the online magazine Adventure Sports Weekly, said all athletes are different and their diets usually need something different than what non-active person eats. She said it is good to to think of the body as “a payoff machine,” that needs specific nutrients at specific times for specific results.
For long, endurance activities, such as running a marathon, she said an athlete should spend the week before eating a lot of carbohydrates to train the muscles to store them better. However, she said carbs in the form of sugar won’t cut it. For endurance, the body needs carbs that are stored for a long time and that burn slowly. She suggested a pasta dinner the night before a race, and advised against candy bars.
Power sports, those that require lots of sprints or jumping, are better fueled by proteins, Sturgeon wrote. Proteins help muscles work hard and fast, and are available in a variety of forms, she said. The two most common protein-obtaining methods are eating animals and taking supplements. She said eating lean-protein animals, such as chicken breasts, tuna fish and turkey legs allows the body to absorb the protein easily, but she noted some supplements offer nutrients in large, beneficial amount not commonly found in food. It’s best to combine supplements with a lean-protein diet, and she suggested athletes experiment with different supplements to see which one works for them.
To help determine which diet and supplement routine works the best, she recommended keeping a food, training and competition diary. She concluded by saying paying attention to diet will improve athletic ability more that the athletes think is possible.