Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Eating for Sport

Now that I am actively TRYING to lose my last 10 pounds, I have been paying attention to what I am eating and trying not to snack on sugary foods as well as reduce my portion sizes.  My chiropractor mentioned to me that I should be getting lots of protein at my last appointment.  That got me thinking and I did some research on the best foods for athletes to eat.  This research helped me to see the VARIETY of foods I should and should not be eating as well as necessary hydration.

It is ESSENTIAL for athletes to eat healthy diets due to the additional energy and stamina needed to perform optimally.  Vitamins, minerals, healthy carbs, and proteins are necessary components of an athlete's diet. 

Healthy carbohydrates are an excellent energy source.  If you are trying to lose weight you should never cut carbs out completely.  You should only cut out bad carbs.  Good carbs can be found in foods such as fruits, veggies, WHOLE grains, and beans.  Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body cannot digest, but fiber aids in digestion and the prevention of many diseases.  People should be consuming 20 to 30 grams of fiber per day.  Fiber is found in all the foods listed above and is present in all foods that come from plants.

Protein is a vital part of an athlete's diet as it builds and maintains muscle tissues.  Successful athletes need good muscle tone.  Some high-protein foods are beans, dairy items, fish, and poultry.

Raw foods are important to an athlete to help build healthy tissue and muscles and also to increase energy and cleanse the body of toxins.  Consume 5 to 8 servings of raw or steamed veggies each day to achieve maximum benefits. 

Healthy fats and oils need to be consumed generously to reduce inflammation and lubricate joints.  Healthy fats are found in fish, sunflower seeds, peanuts, and healthy oils (olive, sunflower, etc.).

Hydration is extremely necessary to an athlete's diet.  When the body sweats with physical activity, hydration is lost.  For performance and energy, water needs to be replaced continually.  Half of an athlete's body weight should be consumed in fluid ounces of water daily.  Example:  A person weighing 160 pounds should consume AT LEAST 80 ounces of water daily.  Physical activity may require drinking even more than this.  Digestion is improved by being hydrated and water helps the body absorb vitamins and deliver nutrients to body cells.  A good indication that you are getting enough water is clear urine at bedtime.  Clear urine is evidence that your body is flushing out all the toxins throughout the day and that you are well-hydrated.

In addition to the kinds of foods I am eating, I probably need to eat smaller meals more often, having 5 small meals instead of 3 big ones.  I should also be consuming little to no alcohol.  I want to kick some serious arse this year!  I may have to make a few sacrifices but I know that eating healthier will help me be at my best on the track and off.  Happy AND HEALTHY eating!  :)