Free «Nutritional Support for Athletes» Essay Paper
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Athletics covers a broad range of activities that need varying inputs of strengths, power techniques, and speed. Each of these depends on the nutrition and diet the athletes follow as well as the quantity and quality of food they consume and the time of consumption. The success of an athlete depends on the type of food he or she consumes. The analysis of the articles devoted to the issue of nutritional support for athletes shows that the optimal nutrition and appropriate diets for athletes will optimize the energy levels and assist their bodies in recovering more efficiently. Whenever the athletes meet in competition, the differences between victory and defeat depend on the diet results as well as eating, and drinking habits of the athletes. Athletic performance and recovery from training are heavily influenced by the nutrition intake. Therefore, the paper will discuss the issue of nutritional support for athletes.
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Nutritional Support for Athletes
When discussing nutritional support of athletes, it is important to think about an athlete’s training as a three-phase one during a year. These stages are base, competition, and transition. During the base phase, the athletes are required to carry out thorough training accompanied by longer and intense practices. Consequently, the athletes will need great amounts of energy; hence, they have to consume energy giving food. During both competition and transition phases, the intensity of training tends to go down, and the athletes require adjusting calories intake to prevent unnecessary weight gain. Therefore, they need a high-quality nutritional plan to select an eating strategy that will help them to perform well in the field.
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During the time of the base phase, the athletes need to provide their bodies with enough energy to achieve the demands of training and enable proper recovery between these phases. The primary source of energy is carbohydrates stored in the body muscles as glycogen (Currell, 2014). The muscles can only store enough glycogen for a certain period, approximately two hours. The energy store needs to be replaced between training sessions by consuming foods rich in carbohydrates. Foods rich in carbohydrates include bread, cereals, rice milk, and even yogurt. During the rigorous training period, the athlete needs to take between five to seven grams of carbohydrates per day (Westman & Stone, 2007).
Protein is another indispensable element of the athletes’ diets (Bray, Redman, & Smith, 2012). This important factor dictates the outcomes of the training and the way the body can adapt to the particular exercises performed during each workout. Every sportsman acknowledges that strength training is very distinct from endurance training because muscles require a certain specific amount of protein to perform better.
Dietary protein is quite crucial in training since the amino acid from protein forms the building block for manufacturing new tissues, muscles and performs the repair of damaged tissues (Bray et al., 2012). Protein also produces hormones and other enzymes that help in the regulation of the metabolism and immune system. Therefore, it is good for the athlete to consume the source of protein that can be digested rapidly to function as post-workout protein boosts. These proteins include peas, beans, eggs, nuts, and dairy foods.
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Recent studies emphasize the acute response to workouts of both endurance and resistance training (Currell, 2014). A balanced protein intake is good for the recovery phase to restock the protein breakdown that has occurred during the rigorous exercise. In the light of this information, it is appropriate to acknowledge that proper protein intake will support body growth and repair of tissues. Scholars have indicated that consuming a small amount of high-quality protein combined with carbohydrates speeds up the protein syntheses during the recovery period (Westman & Stone, 2007).
Furthermore, the athletes require fat intake. Fats provide an important source of fatty acids - the essential carrier for vitamins needed for optimal physiological function. Fats are also the main source of fuels for long duration exercises such a high-intensity exercises or marathons. Even though carbohydrates are the primary source of fuel in the body, fats are needed to help access the stored carbohydrates. However, the athletes are only recommended to consume healthy fats in their daily diets. Such fats are found in seeds and nuts. The dietary intake should be between 20 to 35% of the caloric taken per day (Rabovsky & Diehl-Jones, 2015). Therefore, the athletes should be aware that a diet with low fat intake would have a negative impact on the training, nutrients density, and their capability to improve their performance continually.
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Most of the time, water and other fluids are ignored by the athletes; yet, they are quite crucial elements of their diets (An & McCaffrey, 2016). Water and other fluids prevent the body from dehydration and keep the right temperature. The athletes should take fluids throughout the day and before, during, and after the training. Water is necessary because the provision of additional fuels to the brain and the muscles will benefit an athlete who faces an event that will last longer than one hour since it may result in fatigue. Therefore, the use of sports drinks that have carbohydrates content in them will make the athletes complete their tasks without fainting or feeling fatigue (Stine, Pepper, & Gerba, 2005).
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Recovering after exercises is a crucial part of the preparation for the upcoming competition. Therefore, the replacement of fluids lost during the exercise is fundamental. To recover both water and salts lost during an exercise, the athlete is recommended to take ten glasses of water and other fluids daily (Vanham, Hoekstra, & Bidoglio, 2013). More so, immediately after an exercise, the athlete should take about one and a half liters of fluid to replace the kilograms of weight lost in a competition or training. The athlete’s drinks should also contain sodium to replenish the lost salt from the body.
Any athlete requires vitamins and mineral in the diet. Minerals and vitamins are chemicals that assist the body in functioning smoothly by performing the co-factors in metabolism. Moreover, some of the minerals and vitamins perform the roles of the antioxidants to mop up the free oxygen radicals that are released out as the by-product of metabolism (Eastep & Chen, 2015). Other elements such as calcium form important tissues in the in bones. An athlete should always inquire whether their training requires special needs for the additional intakes of vitamins and minerals.
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Another micronutrient such as iron is essential in the diets of all athletes. Iron aids in the transportation of the oxygen to all parts of the body and releases energy from the cells (Faghih, Abadi, Hedayati & Kimiagar, 2012). The low iron content in the body may cause the athlete to feel tired due to little energy in the body. In addition, calcium, which has been previously mentioned, is required by the athlete for their bone development, which will resist osteoporosis and fractures. Often, female athletes face the risk of developing premature osteoporosis due to hard training and low body fat level. Therefore, to avoid this, the athletes need to consume dairy foods thrice a day to ensure that their bodis have enough calcium (Gürsel, Ateş, Bilal, & Altiner, 2012). More so, recent studies show that teenage athletes suffer from more fractures and osteoporosis than other athletes. Hence, they should take dairy food four times a day to mitigate this problem.
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From the above-discussed information, it is evident that the athletes need to follow appropriate diets to help their bodies build energy reserves. An Improper diet will make the athletes’ body strain during the training session and competition, which will make them feel fatigued and underperform in the field. Therefore, it is recommended that each athlete should carefully monitor and master what diets they require, in what quantity, and at what time to help them build their bodies and avoid straining.