Written by on November 17, 2016
With the partnership of two prominent US sports nutrition member organizations namely, Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition (SCAN) and the Collegiate and Professional Sports Dietitians Association (CPSDA), an alliance was started with the NCAA Sport Science Institute (NCAA SSI) to ensure the delivery of relevant and timely education for student athletes of the NCAA, of which LSU is a member. This means we have more access to the most current and relevant nutrition-related research into practical fueling and recovery methodologies. At the LSU athletic department, we realize that for our athletes to maintain a healthy and strong athletic performance, they need more than just training practice and maintaining shape. Their bodies need support through proper nutrition, hydration and rest to help them consistently perform at peak levels.
The food gets digested in the body when we consume a snack or meal, resulting in the absorption of nutrients. This is where the body derives energy to carry out essential functions as food is converted to burnable calories. Athletes need a variety of different food sources from which to get enough calories and thereby maximize athletic performance. Athletic activity tends to use up calories at a speedier rate compared to when the body is not doing physical activities. To ensure the right proportions of nutrients in the athlete’s body, there has to be a balanced consumption of proteins, carbohydrates and fats so athletes have the advantage when doing physical activity.
Carbohydrates are the most vital nutrient for optimal athletic performance due to how they provide the most efficient fuel usable for the production of energy. Moreover, the human body has glycogen storage that can be called forth when doing physical activity. Protein is needed for muscle rebuilding and repair especially after intense games or workouts. It also serves as a precursor for the production of the proper amino acids made available to the muscles during training. Athletes are encouraged to stay away from bad protein sources including bacon, fried chicken and cheeseburgers. Good protein sources include beans, fish, soy products such as tofu, turkey and chicken. Not all fats are bad. Some fats are actually good for the production of essential fatty acids and energy for the body.
Athletes need vitamins and minerals that help unleash the energy that food contains, for easy use as fuel by the body. They include vitamin D, calcium, fluoride and magnesium that keep the bones strong. Athletes should try taking daily supplements since they don’t get enough of those components from their food alone.
Water, as the universal solvent, not only serves to keep the body cool but also helps flush toxins out of the various body systems. Although the human body comprises mostly water, a significant quantity of fluid is lost during sports activity, so athletes need to rehydrate properly and adequately for optimal body function. Dehydrated athletes lose their focus and feel unwell, with their reflexes slowed down significantly.
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