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Sports Nutrition and Peak Performance

The relationship between nutrition and sports performance is undeniable. As more research is done in understanding how our bodies best perform, it is becoming clear that supporting your exercise program with a healthy diet will not only support you athletically but also provide you with optimal health.

The research behind what it takes to achieve optimal health grows each day. Finding ways that our bodies can not only fight off diseases but also prevent them in the first place, through nutrition and exercising is very exciting. Eating the right foods in the right combination allows your body to become accustom to any exercise you perform.

Sports nutrition is about eating the proper amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and fat while consuming plenty of water to fuel the body for optimal performance.

The American Dietetic Association has a terrific itemized list of what should be consumed before, during and after exercising:

Before you exercise:
• Consume a carbohydrate-rich snack or meal before exercise to top off muscle stores. With pre-competition jitters, liquid meal replacements may be a better choice than whole foods. • Include small amounts of protein in your pre-exercise meal(s). Protein helps build and repair muscle tissue. Adequate protein before exercise may help reduce post-exercise muscle soreness. • Choose pre-exercise meal(s) that are low in fat and fiber to ensure optimal digestion. During exercise: • Optimal fuel blend: Nutrition during prolonged exercise requires the proper mix and timing of fluids, carbohydrates, and electrolytes. Too little fluid or too much carbohydrates can result in cramping and other intestinal problems. • Adequate fluids to replace sweat losses: Prevent excessive fluid loss (>2% body weight lost as fluid). Dehydration can cause fatigue and impair performance. Knowing your sweat rate will help you determine the right amount of fluid to drink. • A plan tailored to YOUR needs: A nutrition plan based on YOUR needs can help maximize performance. Experiment with sports drinks and foods for different types of workouts and competitions. Record your tolerance to learn what works best. For a quick recovery after exercising: • Restore fluid and electrolytes (sodium and potassium) lost in sweat; weigh before and after exercise and replenish what was lost. • Replace muscle fuel (carbohydrate) utilized during practice. • Provide protein to aid in repair of damaged muscle tissue and to stimulate development of new tissue. • Begin nutrition recovery with a snack or meal within 15-60 minutes following practice or competition.http://www.eatright.org/default.asp

Everyone wants to get the most out of their workouts and with proper sports nutrition, you can.

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