Sports Nutrition and Hydration
Adequate nutrition is a key component to health, physical fitness and optimal sports performance. Following simple, basic guidelines for the intake of food and liquid can prevent many of the recurrent problems that affect young and old athletes today.
It is essential to include all the food groups in your daily diet. Following the MyPlate food guide is an excellent way to assure that you are receiving necessary and adequate nutrition. Fad diets and diets that eliminate or limit food groups will not provide a sound nutritional foundation for health and well-being. Eating three to five meals a day that incorporate all the food groups using the MyPlate as a guide is recommended.
Hydration is one aspect of nutrition that is commonly forgotten. Loss of only two percent body weight through sweating has been documented to adversely effect sports performance. Further, dehydration can also be the cause of headaches and fatigue, and it can decrease mental acuity. Athletes should never become thirsty! Thirst is a sign of dehydration, therefore, if you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated.
It is advisable to avoid soda and beverages with caffeine. These are not absorbed well by the body and can have a diuretic effect, thus worsening an athlete’s dehydration.
Drinking fluids before and after activity is important. Four ounces of water every 15 minutes during activity, and eight ounces of water per pound lost after activity is encouraged.