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Questions Most Frequently Asked About

<p> <em>Do the nutritional needs of athletes differ from </em><em>non-athletes?&nbsp;</em></p> <p> Competitive athletes, sedentary individuals and people who exercise for health and fitness all need&nbsp;the same nutrients. However, because of the intensity of their sport or training program, some&nbsp;athletes have higher calorie and fluid requirements. Eating a variety of foods to meet increased&nbsp;calorie needs helps to ensure that the athlete&#39;s diet contains appropriate amounts of carbohydrate,&nbsp;protein, vitamins and minerals.</p> <p> <em>Are there certain dietary guidelines athletes </em><em>should follow?</em></p> <p> Health and nutrition professionals recommend that 55-60% of the calories in our diet come from&nbsp;carbohydrate, no more than 30% from fat and the remaining 10-15% from protein. While the exact&nbsp;percentages may vary slightly for some athletes based on their sport or training program, these&nbsp;guidelines will promote health and serve as the basis for a diet that will maximize performance.</p> <p> <em>How many calories do I need a day?</em></p> <p> This depends on your age, body size, sport and training program. For example, a 250-pound&nbsp;weight lifter needs more calories than a 98-pound gymnast. Exercise or training may increase&nbsp;calorie needs by as much as 1,000 to 1,500 calories a day. The best way to determine if you&#39;re&nbsp;getting too few or too many calories is to monitor your weight. Keeping within your ideal&nbsp;competitive weight range means that you are getting the right amount of calories.</p> <p> <em>Which is better for replacing fluids-water or </em><em>sports drinks?</em></p> <p> Depending on how muscular you are, 55-70% of your body weight is water. Being &quot;hydrated&quot;&nbsp;means maintaining your body&#39;s fluid level. When you sweat, you lose water which must be&nbsp;replaced if you want to pet-form your best. You need to drink fluids before, during and after all&nbsp;workouts and events.&nbsp;Whether you drink water or a sports drink is a matter of choice. However, if your workout or event&nbsp;lasts for more than 90 minutes, you may benefit from the carbohydrates provided by sports drinks.&nbsp;A sports drink that contains 15-18 grams of carbohydrate in every 8 ounces of fluid should be&nbsp;used. Drinks with a higher carbohydrate content will delay the absorption of water and may cause&nbsp;dehydration, cramps, nausea or diarrhea. There are a variety of sports drinks on&nbsp;the market. Be sure to experiment with sports drinks during practice instead of trying them for the&nbsp;first time the day of an event.</p> <p> <em>What are electrolytes?</em></p> <p> Electrolytes are nutrients that affect fluid balance in the body and are necessary for our nerves and&nbsp;muscles to function. Sodium and potassium are the two electrolytes most often added to sports&nbsp;drinks. Generally, electrolyte replacement is not needed during short bursts of exercise since sweat&nbsp;is approximately 99% water and less than 1% electrolytes. Water, in combination with a wellbalanced&nbsp;diet, will restore normal fluid and electrolyte levels in the body.&nbsp;However, replacing electrolytes may be beneficial during continuous activity of longer than 2&nbsp;hours, especially in a hot environment.</p> <p> <em>What do muscles use for energy during exercise?</em></p> <p> Most activities use a combination of fat and carbohydrate as energy sources. How hard and how&nbsp;long you work out, your level of fitness and your diet will affect the type of fuel your body uses.&nbsp;For short-term, high-intensity activities like sprinting, athletes rely mostly on carbohydrate for&nbsp;energy. During low-intensity exercises like walking, the body uses more fat for energy.</p> <p> <em>What are carbohydrates</em></p> <p> Carbohydrates are sugars and starches found in foods like breads, cereals, fruits, vegetables, pasta,&nbsp;milk, honey, syrups and table sugar. Carbohydrates are&nbsp;the preferred source of energy for your body. Regardless of origin, your body breaks down&nbsp;carbohydrates into glucose that your blood carries to cells to be&nbsp;used for energy. Carbohydrates provide 4 calories per gram, while fat provides 9 calories per&nbsp;gram. Your body cannot differentiate between glucose that&nbsp;comes from starches or sugars. Glucose from either source provides energy for working muscles.</p> <p> <em>Is it true that athletes should eat a lot of </em><em>carbohydrates?</em></p> <p> When you are training or competing, your muscles need energy to perform. One source of energy&nbsp;for working muscles is glycogen which is made from carbohydrates and stored in your muscles.&nbsp;Every time you work out, you use some of your glycogen. If you don&#39;t consume enough&nbsp;carbohydrates, your glycogen stores become depleted, which can result in fatigue. Both sugars and&nbsp;starches are effective in replenishing glycogen stores.</p> <p> <em>When and what should I eat before I compete?</em></p> <p> Performance depends largely on the foods consumed during the days and weeks leading up to an&nbsp;event. If you regularly eat a varied, carbohydrate-rich diet you are in good standing and probably&nbsp;have ample glycogen stores to fuel activity. The purpose of the pre-competition meal is to prevent&nbsp;hunger and to provide the water and additional energy the athlete will need during competition.&nbsp;Most athletes eat 2 to 4 hours before their event. However, some athletes perform their best if they&nbsp;eat a small amount 30 minutes before competing, while others eat nothing for 6 hours beforehand.&nbsp;For many athletes, carbohydrate-rich foods serve as the basis of the meal. However, there is no&nbsp;magic pre-event diet. Simply choose foods and beverages that you enjoy and that don&#39;t bother your&nbsp;stomach. Experiment during the weeks before an event to see which foods work best for you.</p> <p> <em>Will eating sugary foods before an event hurt my </em><em>performance?</em></p> <p> In the past, athletes were warned that eating sugary foods before exercise could hurt performance&nbsp;by causing a drop in blood glucose levels. Recent studies, however, have shown that consuming&nbsp;sugar up to 30 minutes before an event does not diminish performance. In fact, evidence suggests&nbsp;that a sugar-containing pre-competition beverage or snack may improve performance during&nbsp;endurance workouts and events.</p> <p> <em>What is carbohydrate loading?</em></p> <p> Carbohydrate loading is a technique used to increase the amount of glycogen in muscles. For five&nbsp;to seven days before an event, the athlete eats 10-12 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram body&nbsp;weight and gradually reduces the intensity of the workouts. (To find out how much you weigh in&nbsp;kilograms, simply divide your weight in pounds by 2.2.) The day before the event, the athlete rests&nbsp;and eats the same high-carbohydrate diet. Although carbohydrate loading may be beneficial for&nbsp;athletes participating in endurance sports which require 90 minutes or more of non-stop effort,&nbsp;most athletes needn&#39;t worry about carbohydrate loading. Simply eating a diet that derives more&nbsp;than half of its calories from carbohydrates will do.</p> <p> <em>As an athlete, do I need to take extra vitamins </em><em>and minerals?</em></p> <p> Athletes need to eat about 1,800 calories a day to get the vitamins and minerals they need for good&nbsp;health and optimal performance. Since most athletes eat more than this amount, vitamin and&nbsp;mineral supplements are needed only in special situations. Athletes who follow vegetarian diets or&nbsp;who avoid an entire group of foods (for example, never drink milk) may need a supplement to&nbsp;make up for the vitamins and minerals not being supplied by food. A multivitamin-mineral pill&nbsp;that supplies 100% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) will provide the nutrients&nbsp;needed. An athlete who frequently cuts back on calories, especially below the 1,800 calorie level,&nbsp;is not only at risk for inadequate vitamin and mineral intake, but also may not be getting enough&nbsp;carbohydrate. Since vitamins and minerals do not provide energy, they cannot replace the energy&nbsp;provided by carbohydrates.</p> <p> <em>Will extra protein help build muscle mass?</em></p> <p> Many athletes, especially those on strength-training programs or who participate in power sports,&nbsp;are told that eating a ton of protein or taking protein supplements will help them gain muscle&nbsp;weight. However, the true secret to building muscle is training hard and consuming enough&nbsp;calories. While some extra protein is needed to build muscle, most American diets provide more&nbsp;than enough protein. Between 1.0 and 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram body weight per day is&nbsp;sufficient if your calorie intake is adequate and you&#39;re eating a variety of foods. For a 150-pound&nbsp;athlete, that represents 68-102 grams of protein a day.</p> <p> <em>Why is iron so important?</em></p> <p> Hemoglobin, which contains iron, is the part of red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs&nbsp;to all parts of the body, including muscles. Since your muscles need oxygen to produce energy, if&nbsp;you have low iron levels in your blood, you may tire quickly. Symptoms of iron deficiency&nbsp;include fatigue, irritability, dizziness, headaches and lack of appetite. Many times, however; there&nbsp;are no symptoms at all. A blood test is the best way to find out if your iron level is low. It is&nbsp;recommended that athletes have their hemoglobin levels checked once a year.&nbsp;The RDA for iron is 15 milligrams a day for women and 10 milligrams a day for men. Red meat is&nbsp;the richest source of iron, but fish and poultry also are good sources. Fortified breakfast cereals,&nbsp;beans and green leafy vegetables also contain iron. Our bodies absorb the iron found in animal&nbsp;products best.</p> <p> <em>Should I take an iron supplement?</em></p> <p> Taking iron supplements will not improve performance unless an athlete is truly iron deficient.&nbsp;Too much iron can cause constipation, diarrhea, nausea and may interfere with the absorption of&nbsp;other nutrients such as copper and zinc. Therefore, iron supplements should not be taken without&nbsp;proper medical supervision.</p> <p> <em>Why is calcium so important?</em></p> <p> Calcium is needed for- strong bones and proper muscle function. Dairy foods are the best source&nbsp;of calcium. However, studies show that many female athletes who are trying to lose weight cut&nbsp;back on dairy products. Female athletes who don&#39;t get enough calcium may be at risk for stress&nbsp;fractures and, when they&#39;re older, osteoporosis. Young women between the ages of 11 and 24 need&nbsp;about 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day. After age 25, the recommended intake is 800 milligrams.&nbsp;Low-fat dairy products are a rich source of calcium and also are low&nbsp;</p> <div id="cke_pastebin" style="left: -1000px; overflow: hidden; width: 1px; position: absolute; top: 12px; height: 1px"> What diet is best for athletes?</div> <div id="cke_pastebin" style="left: -1000px; overflow: hidden; width: 1px; position: absolute; top: 12px; height: 1px"> It&#39;s important that an athlete&#39;s diet provides the right amount of energy, the 50-plus nutrients the</div> <div id="cke_pastebin" style="left: -1000px; overflow: hidden; width: 1px; position: absolute; top: 12px; height: 1px"> body needs and adequate water. No single food or supplement can do this. A variety of foods are</div> <div id="cke_pastebin" style="left: -1000px; overflow: hidden; width: 1px; position: absolute; top: 12px; height: 1px"> needed every day. But, just as there is more than one way to achieve a goal, there is more than one</div> <div id="cke_pastebin" style="left: -1000px; overflow: hidden; width: 1px; position: absolute; top: 12px; height: 1px"> way to follow a nutritious diet.</div>

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