Looking to take your athletic performance up a notch? If so, one thing that you must be taking into account is the sports nutrition strategies that you can be using. Few things are going to impact more on how you perform than the foods that you put into your body each and every day. Many athletes know the importance of paying attention to pre and post exercise nutrition, but then they neglect what they are eating the other twelve or so hours during the day.
It’s time that you started paying attention to your entire diet in order to see maximum success. One of the first steps to doing so is taking a closer look at some of the sports nutrition myths that tend to circulate. Once you can put these to rest in your mind, you’ll have a better chance of stepping forward and seeing the results that you’re looking for. Here are the myths to know about.
Myth #1: The More Protein, The Better
Ever see an athlete pounding back a protein shake right after a big event? Only to follow that with a giant steak in the meal that follows? Some athletes think that they need a sky-high protein intake in order to repair the muscle tissue they are breaking down during their exercise sessions.
While they will need more protein than someone who is sedentary in nature, they don’t need to be taking in so much that the vast majority of their diet is protein. Remember, everything in moderation. There should be a good balance between the amount of proteins, carbs, and fats that you are consuming. Due to the fact that protein is very hard for the body to break down to use as a primary energy source, if you start eating too much protein, you’ll come to find that your energy level plummets very quickly. This will then have a very negative implication on your performance.
Myth #2: You Should Be Feasting On High-Carb, Low Fat Food
The next sports nutrition myth to note is the notion that your diet should revolve around high carb, low fat foods. This is often started by the ‘carb loading’ principle, where athletes will eat a very high carb, low fat diet a day or so before a big event. While carb loading can be beneficial for endurance athletes before a race, for most athletes, it’s just not necessary. If you don’t take on enough dietary fat, weight gain is likely to result as hunger will be artificially high due to the speed that you are breaking down your food. Remember that fat slows the digestion process down, giving you the satiety signals that you need. Without it, you will eat more calories than you should be.
In addition to that, without sufficient fat in your diet plan, you can start suffering nutritional deficiencies, especially for the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Furthermore, as fat does play a key role in the generation of hormones in the body, without sufficient dietary fat, testosterone levels could decrease and this also has a negative influence on your overall performance.
While you do need your carbs, don’t make your dietary fat any lower than about 20% of your total calorie intake.
Myth #3: Bagels Are An Optimal Source Of Energy
Moving along, are bagels a primary go-to for you? Many athletes think that bagels – or any starchy carb for that matter is an excellent choice for bringing their energy levels up.
Sadly, this isn’t the case. While they may be okay immediately post-exercise since you want that fast digesting source of fuel, throughout the day, choose more wholesome sources. Slow digesting grains like brown rice, quinoa, and barley are a far better bet along with high fiber foods like beans and sweet potatoes. Use these as your primary carb sources instead and you’ll find that you sustain energy longer and may not put yourself at risk of weight gain from eating processed carbs like bagels.
Myth #4: Sports Beverages Are A Wise Choice
Sports beverages are another thing that athletes need to be careful about. It would seem that they are the perfect choice for hydration needs. After all, they have sports in the name. Don’t get confused. Many sports beverages contain a high dose of sugar that, unless you are exercising for longer than an hour straight, you just won’t need. The vast majority of athletes will be better served by simply drinking water and then making sure they eat a proper pre and post exercise meal to keep their sodium and potassium levels where they need to be.
If you really must supplement with electrolytes, find a sports drink that is sugar free unless you otherwise know that you need the extra sugar calories. With the exception of endurance cyclists and marathon runners, however, most athletes simply won’t need the sugar. Eating a piece of whole fruit would be a far better and nutritious way to get an energy boost after exercise.
Myth #5: Low Calorie Diets Will Help You Shed Weight Faster
Finally, the last sports nutrition myth is that low calorie diets will help you shed weight faster. Some athletes who feel that they need to start losing weight will go on these, looking to get to their end goal sooner so they can see that rise in performance. Sadly, it often works against them. While on these very low calorie diets, they see a dramatic decrease in performance because they aren’t even coming close to meeting their fuel needs, which can eventually cause them to fall off their diet entirely or stop participating in their sport of choice.
Plus these very low calorie diets will put them at risk of lean muscle mass loss, which can then cause a permanent decrease in their overall performance. When it comes to fat loss, slow and steady wins the race for any athlete.
So keep these sports nutrition myths in mind. If you can side-step these, you will feel more confident that you are structuring your diet in a way that will promote both health as well as maximum performance.
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