How do Athletes Benefit from Good Nutrition?
When I was younger I used to think athletes had vastly different, mysterious, intense nutritional protocols in order to compete at their level. It is true that an elite athlete’s body typically has a much higher metabolism and increased demand for nutrients. However, the fundamentals of proper nutrition still need to be in place. Many people think that in order to become a great athlete, they need to drastically modify their diets right away. The tendency of many is to run out and purchase excessive amounts of protein powders, bars and shakes. I believe that in order to truly perform and compete at our top potential we need to evaluate our current nutritional situation and understand the basic of how a nutrient rich diet can help us to excel in our sport.
So rather than scarfing down protein bar after protein bar, it’s a good idea to begin looking at how we can incorporate a fresh, organic, clean, whole diet into our lives and build from there. A sprinter doesn’t just start running the 100 meter dash in 12 seconds on day 1. They have to start with their existing athletic capabilities and gradually improve. Nutrition uses the same sort of principle.
But what’s the point? Why not just pound back as much food and protein as you can handle? What are the benefits of eating healthy, whole and clean? Let’s take a brief look at a few ways in which a wholesome diet can help you excel in your sport.
- Increased endurance – Your body will be able to train longer and hard allowing you to reach your full potential and top athletic goals faster
- Delay fatigue – You will find your stamina will improve allowing you to compete in your sport at a higher level without experiencing fatigue as often.
- Recover faster – A healthy body will naturally heal faster. Recovering from injury quickly lets you get back to the sport you love as quick as possible
- Improve mental focus – A clear mind allows you to concentrate and focus on the training or competing optimally
- Perform better overall – Overall abilities and capacities can produce better performance and results in your sports
- Resist illness and disease – Staying healthy and maintaining a strong immune system enables you to fight illness so you won’t have to miss valuable training time or competitions
- Halt and reverse some physical signs of aging – Slowing or reversing physical aging signs helps the body feel younger and enhances overall capabilities
- Stabilize emotions – Allows you to find more enjoyment out of training and competing. The best athletes in the world love what they do
- Reduce chance of injury – Healthier systems in the body keep the body stronger and reduce injury potential and the lower the likelihood of having to miss essential training time and competition
- Prevent cramping – When muscles and tissues have appropriate nutrients, cramping may be prevented allowing you to compete and train harder and pain free
- Increase energy – More energy will let you train and compete at a higher level. Energy levels will also be sustainable for your work and social life
- Enhance ability to deal with stress – Proper nutrition helps your body handle and process stressors (physical, emotional, mental, and chemical, etc.). Effective methods of stress management let you reach higher athletic levels
Any of those reasons should be convincing enough of the true power and importance of a solid, nutrient-dense diet. Athletes should always take special care in building their nutritional foundation in order to reach the levels they are striving towards. So before you pick up that next carton of protein powder, ask yourself if it is really providing you with the results you want. Perhaps implementing simple nutritional changes to how you eat could benefit your performance in the best way possible.
Source: Flickr user tableatny