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Nutrition and the relationship to athletic performance - Essay Example

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Advances in food science have gained considerable attention from the media these past few decades. As people learn more about the mechanisms of food and its effect on the body, both amateur and professional athletes have turned to nutrition to optimize their performance…
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Nutrition and the relationship to athletic performance
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Download file to see previous pages Proper eating habits play an integral role in fueling the body to operate effectively. Even the well conditioned and best trained athlete will have a hard time performing at peak level if improperly nourished. Also, it is essential for the athlete to understand that a balanced diet is critical not only for athletic excellence but also to maintain tissues that have been damaged during physical activity and, more importantly, for the young athlete who will need the additional nutrients to allow for continued growth and bone development.
Carbohydrate is the most efficient and recommended source of glucose that the body needs to produce energy. Once ingested, the body converts carbohydrates into glucose that will give the athlete power and stamina to endure high intensity, short duration activities. Excess glucose, called glycogen, is absorbed in the liver and muscle tissues for later use. If the body lacks sources of carbohydrates, the body is forced to convert fat and protein into energy resulting in poor performance and increased fatigue.
Carbohydrates are divided into two groups, the simple and complex carbohydrates. The simple carbohydrates, sometimes also referred to as the "bad carbs", are commonly found in refined or packaged food such as sugar, candy, chips, milk, honey and, fruit juices. Although, these types of carbohydrates are easily digested, they lack essential vitamins and nutrients that can normally be found in food sources containing complex carbohydrates. They are so-called because, unlike the simple carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates take longer to digest but it brings with it the essential vitamins and minerals that the body needs on a daily basis. This type of carbohydrate is commonly found in fresh fruits and vegetables, oatmeal, rice, bread, cereal, pita, pretzel, muffins and, pasta dishes.
Although there are many recommendations on the amount of carbohydrate to be taken daily, most experts agree that carbohydrate consumption should consist of at the most two-thirds (2/3) of any given meal, roughly 3 to 4 times of a persons' weight in pounds. This means, for example, a person weighing 160 pounds should consume about 480-640 grams of carbohydrate everyday to maintain his energy level. And as exercise and training increase, carbohydrate consumption should be increased appropriately. According to the studies made by Leslie Bonci M.P.H., R.D., the following increase in carbohydrate intake is recommended for the active athlete:
3 grams/lb body weight for 1 hour of training
4.5 grams/kg body weight for 2 hours training
5 grams/kg body weight for 3 hours training, and
6 grams/kg body weight for 4+ hours of training (Bonci, n.d.a, Carbohydrate Needs section, par.1)
Another technique used by endurance athletes, like bicyclers, swimmers and long-distance runners is "carbohydrate loading" or commonly referred to as ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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