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Getting a Protein Rich Diet

proteinProtein requirements for athletes has been widely misunderstood and the balance between protein and carbohydrate intake for optimal athletic performance has often been overlooked. Traditionally, a high protein intake was considered synonymous with building muscle mass and fueling endurance, but this is not actually the case. Muscles primarily rely on carbohydrate for fuel, resorting to burning protein stores only as a last resort when glycogen stores have been depleted and energy demand is still high.

It is important to remember though, that though protein is not a first-line fuel for energy output, it is a vital component of recovery both during and following intense exercise. If an athlete becomes injured, their protein requirements will increase as their body rebuilds damaged tissue and handles inflammation and swelling. A diet adequate in lean meats, dairy products, beans and legumes, and possibly soy products (though female athletes should use caution with soy because of its estrogenic properties) will usually provide sufficient protein even for injury recovery.

Also important is the fact that all carbohydrates are not created equal. Refined carbs such as white flour and white sugar are actually a drain on the body’s energy and can cause digestive sluggishness and immune suppression. Better choices include whole grains, and unrefined sweeteners such as honey or pure maple syrup, especially in the days before an especially demanding athletic event. The human body functions best when kept in balance, and this is also true for protein and carbohydrate intake.

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Athletes Need More Than Just Protein

1041407_bicycle__1Sometimes you hear the words diet and athlete and you think to yourself protein or maybe protein shakes. Why is that? Is it because protein has become increasingly popular during these last years? Whatever the reason, it is imperative for athletes to understand that to be healthy they need more then just protein. So what do they need exactly?

First and foremost, athletes’ muscles rely on carbohydrates and fats to give them energy during exercise. Both should be a major part of the daily intake in an athletes diet. And, it is recommended that athletes should consume these foods approximately 2 to 4 hours before they begin exercise. Second, an athlete is obviously going to need fluids, mainly water. However, if the exercise persists for longer than 2 hours in a hot environment, a fitness drink with electrolytes is a great way to rehydrate. Lastly, vitamins and minerals, iron, and calcium are all things to keep in mind to stay healthy. If you are eating a varied diet you are most likely getting enough vitamins and minerals, otherwise you may want to supplement. When it comes to iron, a supplement is only necessary if you are truly anemic. And with calcium, it is always a good idea to make sure you consume enough so you have strong bones. When you do all of the above you will not only be healthy, but well prepared for exercise.

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Diets for Athletes: What Works?

906209_sport_silhouettes_1Have you ever talked to a successful athlete about their diet? If you have you probably learned a lot about what it really takes to be keep the body healthy and in shape for competition. No, these athletes do not eat pizza for every meal. Although, that would be nice. Just like most things in life, good things (a good, healthy figure) take work. So instead of eating pizza, these athletes work at being healthy – making sure their diet is varied so they have all different types of foods to fuel them along the way.

Carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are what athletes consume the most of. They are stored in the body and provide the athlete with 40 to 50 percent of the energy that they require.

Fat. Provides the body fuel.

Protein. Provides energy to body after carbohydrates and fat. The more an athlete exercises, the more he or she may need protein.

Water. Athletes need to stay hydrated throughout the day. Water is an important nutrient for every athlete.

It is also recommended that athletes consume vitamins and minerals to help maximize their performance and consume a pre-game meal approximately 3 hours before the game begins. It is no wonder why an athlete who sticks to a diet such as this would be in such great shape.

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Get Protein Like an Athlete

1012234_cool_drinkThere are a lot of things athletes have in common. They are hard working people. Obviously they have a competitive drive, the will to win. Any athlete who says it is not about winning is probably joking, because they want to be the best, especially when it comes to their body. They need to be fit so they can perform at their best ability. And although, we as non-athletes or normal people may not be as perfect as some of these athletes, we can mimic some things they do and achieve similar results in our lives.

One thing that a lot of people would like is the figure of an athlete. And although we may not spend hours in the gym, we can implement a workout routine and most importantly start a proper diet that will help us to look our best. Most athletes consume lots of protein to help them stay healthy and compete. The protein adds to their lean figures. Eating more protein is easier than it sounds. There are a lot of resources out there that can help you. You can learn how to count the carbohydrates you are eating or other alternatives that are out there to counting the carbohydrates.

It is not difficult to determine how much protein you need for your diet. You just have to plan ahead. Try it out!

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What Do Athletes Eat For Health??

1041406_athlete_2Club sports for young teenage girls are exciting and fun. And while it is great for the young girls to experience healthy, spirited competition, it is often interesting what happens socially outside of the sport. Consider for a second a weekend soccer tournament. There is a break in between games and no healthy food around so the young girls decide to hit up the local Carl’s Jr. Not only do they eat lots of french fries and fattening foods, but they also decide to finish their meal off with a shake. It sounds like a normal thing for most Americans to do. Unfortunately, one hour later these girls have to be back on the soccer field for 90 minutes straight. Their ability to endure and compete will be greatly hindered by their quick pit stop.

So what should these girls be eating between games? Suggestions for healthy eating when it comes to athletes advise consuming 65% complex carbohydrates, 10 to 15% fat (preferably from vegetables), and 10% protein. Furthermore, it has been noted that one of the major reasons for fatigue in athletes is the consumption of too much milk. It is no wonder those girls who had those milkshakes did not play too well in their second game in the tournament. Hopefully, in the future they will follow the advice listed above to stay healthy and perform better.

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Athletes Need Protein Rich Diets

1160549___soccer__1When you think of being anemic, you might think of the medical questionnaires that you are often asked to fill out when you go to see a new doctor. These questionnaires are just basic inquiries gathering general information about your health. If you answer yes to being anemic, then you have low iron in your blood. You might be tired more often then normal. Luckily, for most people anemia is a relatively simple problem to fix. Did you know, however, that there is a similar “sports anemia” that happens when athletes train and do not eat enough protein? It may sound weird, but just like those who are tired because their blood doesn’t have enough iron, athletes without enough protein in their diets too can suffer fatigue.

For athletes to avoid the “sports anemia” it is important that they consume enough protein. Sources say that if athletes will try to consume about 10 to 12 percent of the total calories they eat in protein they should be healthy and have the stamina for competition. For most people, a varied diet will allow them to reach these levels of intake. And it is estimated that most people tend to eat more then the recommended amount of protein everyday. So, as long as the athlete is not a vegetarian, they are probably prepared and healthy for their sport.

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Athletes Need to Eat Healthy

906209_sport_silhouettes_All human beings require adequate nutrition and water intake in order to achieve optimal health and longevity. Athletes have an even greater requirement for adequate nutrition and though it can be difficult to know what “good nutrition” really means, the main points are quite simple.

Ideally, the athlete will have unlimited access to pure water that is free of chemicals. The athlete should also have the ability to incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables into appealing meals and snacks. Fresh fruits and vegetables are high in critical enzymes and electrolytes, and consuming them reduces the temptation to obtain these necessary electrolytes from hyper-sweetened energy or fluid-replacement drinks. Rounding out the diet with high-quality meats and dairy products is also desired.

These should be of varieties that are low in fat and free of additives such as growth hormones or preservatives, and should be consumed in moderation rather than being the focal point of each meal. For example, it is a healthier choice to consume a six ounce chicken breast with a baked potato, steamed vegetables, and a slice of whole grain bread with a fresh green salad than to focus on a twelve ounce steak with only one vegetable on the side and nothing else. Either meal will assuage hunger, but one is definitely a healthier choice than the other.

Good nutrition is critical for all people, but athletes in particular. Choosing to eat and drink healthy is a choice with lasting benefits to both athletes and non-athletes alike.

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Protein Rich Diets – Do They Work?

867879_eggs_diet_5Protein needs are somewhat increased for athletes and active individuals, but these protein needs are actually quite simple to meet. Recommendations for adequate protein intake are 1.2 to 1.4 g/kg body weight per day for endurance athletes (runners, cyclists, swimmers, dancers etc.), and 1.6 to 1.7 g/kg body weight per day for resistance and strength-trained athletes (gymnasts, weight-lifters, martial arts, etc.).

The most well-known and most often included foods providing protein in the diet include beef, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, cheese, milk, yogurt, lentils, baked beans, black beans, kidney beans, and nuts of various kinds. Care should be exercised when choosing recurring sources of protein, as some such as the meats and dairy can be high in saturated fats. Choosing lower fat versions is a good option.

Additional sources of protein include nut butters like almond or peanut butter, seeds, tofu, free-range eggs, yogurt, lowfat milk, soymilk, bean/corn combinations (such as cooked beans served on a flour tortilla or mixed with corn in a combination dish). Combining grains such as wheat, barley, brown rice, or oats with corn, beans, and/or lentils also produces a healthy protein that will easily and inexpensively increase daily protein intake.

The bottom line is to examine the diet of each athlete individually and determine specific nutritional needs based on energy need, dietary preferences, and economic factors. Achieving adequate protein intake can be simple and stress-free, which are core tenets of a healthy diet, after all.

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There’s More to Athletes Than Protein Diets

Vegetarian athletes face nutritional challenges that non-vegetarians do not. For instance, consuming adequate quantities of proteins, fats, zinc, and fiber will prevent amenorrhea in female athletes, which is a common malady in women who are training intensely and/or limiting their dietary intake in order to maintain low body weight.

Lower circulating estrogen levels in female vegetarian athletes may indicate a lower intake of estrogens due to the 1169372_nuts_and_grain_5avoidance of meat and/or dairy products containing estrogenic substances, or it may be due to an increased fiber intake that tends to carry excess estrogen from the body. Regardless the cause, abnormally low levels of estrogen can lead to severe disruptions or cessation of the menstrual cycle, which may need to be addressed nutritionally.

Consumption of adequate fluids before and during athletic activities is also critical. Muscles only function optimally when they are properly hydrated and when necessary minerals are at adequate levels. However, caution should be used when choosing “energy drinks” or sports beverages, as many are laden with either refined sugar or artificial sweeteners, neither of which are generally conducive to good health. Diluted fruit juices or vegetable juices, interchanged with pure water, are a natural and inexpensive alternative to expensive commercial drinks. Fruits such as bananas, grapes, and oranges help by providing potassium as well. Following athletic activity with a drink or meal containing sodium chloride and potassium, such as baked potatoes, replenishes lost electrolytes and maintains normal fluid balance and urinary output.

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Protein Isn’t All You Need

1174351_breadThe diet of a vegetarian athlete must be varied and high in carbohydrates, with protein not necessarily being the most critical factor in determining the athlete’s success. The resting metabolic rate of a vegetarian athlete can run up to 11% higher than their meat eating counterparts, which is significant in determining the best nutritional combinations for maximum athletic performance.

Complex carbohydrates should comprise the majority of the diet, and athletes may need to tailor their food intake along any number of patterns. Some athletes will need to consume 6-8 small meals throughout the day, others will do better with 3-4 more concentrated meals. Obtaining sufficient caloric intake along with adequate nutritional balance is the critical point.

The recent trend of a high protein/low carbohydrate diet for purposes of weight loss will usually prove detrimental to the vegetarian athlete’s energy levels and overall performance. Sports nutrition guidelines recommend at least 60-65% of nutritional intake come from carbohydrates, though a more efficient calculation may be obtained by using the athlete’s body weight rather than simply their energy consumption and output.

The bottom line is that while combining foods in order to achieve adequate and health-producing protein intake is important for all vegetarians, especially athletes, athletic performance is supported by a diet high in complex carbohydrates. The idea of a high-protein diet producing enhanced athletic performance does not seem to hold up under scientific scrutiny or practical experience.

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