Helpful nutrition tips for athletes

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

Be sure to drink lots of water before, during, and after an intense workout.

It takes a lot of energy to fuel athletes, who have to constantly push their bodies to the limit. If you’re extremely active, do you know what kinds of food you should be eating for support and nourishment? Well, here are some general tips that are simple, but will go a long way to help you achieve your peak levels of competition.

The first thing to keep in mind is to eat plenty of carbohydrates – one of the three main “macromolecules” our bodies use to extract energy. Carbs are essentially long chains of glucose (sugar) which the body then stores in the muscles in the form of glycogen.

This ensures that the muscles have quick and easy access to energy reserves while you’re running about burning fuel. Pasta and rice are good sources of carbs, but don’t go stuffing your face! Instead, make sure the carbs are part of a well-balanced diet. While the muscles get their energy from carbs, they need their strength from proteins. See, our muscles typically experience slight tears during a strenuous workout. The presence of protein from our diets gives our bodies the building blocks they need to repair the damage, and make us stronger than ever before.

Foods with high-quality protein include fish, eggs, nuts, meat, beans, and milk! Just be sure not to overdo it; consuming too much of the strengthening molecule can actually be dangerous for your kidneys – the organs that help remove waste products from us. Instead, treat your kidneys and the rest of your body to plenty of fluids every day. Intense workouts quickly drain the body of water, especially in hot weather. Water is needed to regulate body temperature, lubricate joints, and transport nutrients throughout the body. According to the American Council on Exercise, athletes should drink about 17-20 ounces of fluid up to three hours before exercising. Once they start getting more active, they should drink about 7-10 ounces every 15 minutes or so.

Image of tennis player courtesy of Sharpie087 on Wikipedia.