8 Sports Nutrition Rules for Athletes

Athletes have various nutritional needs depending on the requirement of the specific training regimen. There are general guidelines and benefits for proper nutrition for all track and field events. However, different event groups in track and field have specific nutritional requirements based on caloric output and physiological demands. 

8 Rules of Sports Nutrition

  1. Eat breakfast immediately to combat staying in a catabolic state; eat protein and carbohydrates to fuel the recovery process and prepare the body for training later in the day (Davis, 2017).
  2. Eating every few hours stops overeating and keeps blood sugar stable, which leads to less fat storage. Never skip a meal; athletes need consistent fuel.
  3. Eat protein with every meal; consume approximately one gram of protein per pound of lean body weight.
  4. Eat within 30 minutes of a workout to rapidly replenish the low glycogen stores in muscles and decrease the muscle protein breakdown.
  5. Eat five servings of fruits and vegetables every day; they are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
  6. Drink at least one gallon of water per day to stay hydrated.
  7. Avoid high fat, processed foods, and simple sugars; energy levels can become unstable and cause cravings.
  8. Minimize caffeine: caffeine is a stimulant and can improve performance in some cases, and it also dehydrates.

Energy Sources For Sports

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the primary energy source for athletes during moderate to high-intensity exercise.

Athletes Need Carbohydrates: if glycogen stores are depleted as a result of low carbohydrate intake, performance will be negatively affected.

Fats

The carbohydrate sources in the body must be depleted to use fat as a fuel, which only occurs in extremely long durations of exercise.

The Science of Fat Conversion: aerobic glycolysis can only metabolize glucose; the TCA cycle and electron transport chain can metabolize glucose and fats. Fatty acids must undergo beta-oxidation before they can enter the TCA cycle; beta-oxidation is a series of chemical reactions converting fatty acids into acetyl CoA and hydrogen. The TCA cycle will process fat in the same manner as glucose at this stage.

Protein

Proteins are generally not used for energy in track and field.

The Science of Protein Conversion: proteins can be utilized for energy production by converting amino acids into glucose or other intermediates to be processed by the TCA cycle. 

Track and Field Nutrition

Distance Runners

 

2-3 hours before practice or competition:

16–20 ounces of water, lean meats, fruits, and nuts

1 hour before practice or competition:

5–10 ounces of water, low-fat granola bar 

During practice or competition:

6 ounces of water per 20 minutes of activity

6 ounces of sports drink with electrolytes per hour

6 ounces of meal replacement for activities over 2 hours

Within 30 minutes of practice or competition:

Fruit, granola bar, bread

Up to 6 hours post-workout-competition (every 2–3 hours):

Lean meat, grilled fish, fruits, vegetables, bread, and dairy

At least 8 ounces of water per hour depending on climate conditions

Eat carbohydrate-rich foods such as potatoes, pastas, and grains that can be quickly digested.

Sprinters, Hurdlers, and Jumpers

2-3 hours before practice or competition:

16 ounces of milk or juice, beans, lean meats, fruits, and nuts

1 hour before practice or competition:

8 ounces of water, low-fat granola bar, fruit

During practice or competition:

8 ounces of water per 20 minutes of activity

8 ounces of sports drink with electrolytes per hour

Within 30 minutes post-practice or competition:

Fruit, granola bar, pretzels, bagels

Meal replacement with protein and carbohydrates

Up to 6 hours post-workout-competition (every 2 hours):

Lean meat, grilled fish, fruits, vegetables, bread, and dairy

At least 8 ounces of water per hour

Athletes need to balance caloric intake and energy expenditure to maintain or improve body composition.

Throwers

2-3 hours before practice or competition:

16 ounces of chocolate milk, beans, lean meats, fruits, and nuts

1 hour before practice or competition:

8 ounces of milk or protein shake, granola bar, fruit

During practice or competition:

8 ounces of water per 20 minutes of activity

8 ounces of sports drink with electrolytes per hour 

Within 30 minutes post-practice or competition:

Fruit, granola bar, pretzels, bagels

16 ounces of meal replacement with protein and carbohydrates

Up to 6 hours post-workout-competition (every 2 hours):

Lean meat, grilled fish, fruits, vegetables, bread, and dairy

At least 8 ounces of water per hour

Achieve weight gain in throwers by eating more bread, fruit or nut-based desserts and higher fat dairy products. 

 

 

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