Nutrition is important for each and every person, but proper nutrition is even more vital to those involved in recreational athletics. The biggest issue athletes face is large amounts of fluid loss because of increased perspiration, ultimately leaving them at risk for dehydration. It is important for athletes to properly plan out their meals and to make good meal choices to fuel their bodies. When you are exercising at a high intensity, what you choose to eat can greatly affect your stamina and performance. Athletes can plan their meals prior to heading to the dining hall at, which I discussed in a previous article. The online resources can provide athletes with nutritional information that they can use to plan their meals by seeing what is being served for that day.

For athletes, it is not only what you eat that can greatly affect your activity, but even more importantly, when you eat. Eating before you exercise is actually very effective in improving performance. These meals and snacks should be high in protein and low in fat and fiber. They should be consumed in an adequate amount of time before exercise, but not too soon where they can cause an upset stomach. Also, these foods should be easily digestible. Some examples of proper foods are whole wheat toast, granola and fruit, just to name a few.

During your exercise, proper hydration through fluid intake is key. Throughout your exercise, large amounts of fluids, specifically water, should be consumed. Sports drinks, such as Gatorade, can also be helpful in replenishing lost electrolytes. If you choose to eat during exercise, opt for fruits or a snack high in carbohydrates. After exercise, it is vital to replenish your fluid and electrolyte loss to avoid dehydration. Also, it is important to eat carbohydrates after to reload your glycogen loss and protein to repair your muscles.

As I have stressed, hydration is very important for athletes. By keeping hydrated, you avoid fatigue and future health problems. For low to moderate exercise, water can satisfy your nutritional needs. For intense workouts that last more than an hour where you are profusely sweating, it is important to replenish your fluid and sodium loss, which can be done through a sports drink.

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