Why Is Nutrition Important For Athletes

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Why Is Nutrition Important For Athletes

Exercise is essential to a healthy lifestyle since it protects us against sickness and improves our bodily functions.

Whether you are a professional athlete, working out to lose weight, or love working out, what you eat and how much you drink can significantly influence your athletic performance. Sports nutrition, in particular, plays a vital role in performance enhancement where it helps to fuel the muscles, promote muscle growth, and replace bodily fluids. Sufficient energy should come from various diets with enough glucose, protein, fat, and micronutrients to prevent injuries and improve performance.

Your energy and food requirements will vary depending on the quantity and type of physical activity you engage in. When you exercise, the cells require more energy than when you are resting. An athlete’s diet must be more than just balanced, as their energy intake must meet their increased energy consumption.
Inadequate or excessive intake of food will hamper your athlete’s performance. Therefore, it is critical to adapt your food and hydration intake to optimize performance, promote recovery, and minimize the depletion of energy reserves.

What do athletes need to eat to ensure optimum energy levels?

Proper nutrition and athletic performance go hand in hand. Healthy eating can help your body acquire the energy and nutrients it needs to get through the day or while doing exercise. Carbohydrates, protein, and fats are the primary energy sources for athletes to enhance sports performance.
Let’s take a deeper look at these macronutrients and see why they are vital for sports nutrition.


This macronutrient, which is sometimes vilified, is essential for everybody who engages in any physical exercise. Carbohydrates are the primary fuel utilized by your brain and muscles during exercise. Therefore consuming a proper quantity is critical to avoiding muscle fatigue.

Complex carbohydrates are broken down by your body into glucose, which is stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver. These reserves are important as they provide energy while you exercise, but they are limited. As a result, one important method is to begin exercising with your glycogen stores fully charged.

Your carbohydrate requirements are solely influenced by the type of activity, its intensity, and duration.

Low-intensity exercise

For female athletes who follow a low-intensity skills-based program (such as yoga, Pilates, pace walking, etc.) or exercise less than three times per week, a daily intake of 2-3g per kg of body weight is recommended.

Medium intensity exercise

For elite athletes who follow a modest routine, 3-5g per kilogram of body weight (that last for around 45-60 minutes),

High-intensity exercise

6-10g per kg of body weight for high endurance athletes (those who train for 1-3 hours per day at a moderate/high intensity) and 8-12g per kg of body weight for those competing in extreme sports.


Proteins, unlike carbohydrates, are not often used as fuel by our bodies when exercising, but they are essential for muscle repair, growth, and strength development. Inadequate protein consumption will result in muscle deterioration, injuries, and disease in the long run.
Regardless of your fitness goal, we all require strong and completely developed muscles to function well. Maintaining muscle development is critical to maintaining a positive protein balance, which implies having more protein available than what would be utilized during physical exercise.

How much protein should athletes consume?

Adults should consume 0.75-0.8g of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, according to the SACN recommendations.

This quantity is sufficient if you frequently go to the gym (3-4 times per week), but athletes (endurance or strength, lifting moderate to heavy weights) may benefit from slightly increasing their protein intake to stimulate muscle tissue development and repair.

When it comes to protein, it is critical to dispel the idea that the more protein you consume, the more muscle mass you will gain – if you consume more protein than your body requires, your body will use it as energy.

Furthermore, the most recent standards encourage spreading your protein intake throughout the day rather than consuming it all at once and aiming for 20 – 25g of protein every meal or snack (3 main meals + 2 snacks). This guideline is based on the fact that our muscles prefer to use a limited amount of protein throughout a single day.


Fat is the third essential macronutrient, contributing to forming your cell membranes, bone marrow, brain tissue, and organ protection. It’s fascinating to learn that our bodies employ muscle fat for low-intensity tasks (walking, yoga, or any training session).

However, excessive fat consumption can lead to weight gain and health concerns. Fat is the most energy-dense food when compared to protein and carbohydrates.

Unlike carbs and protein, there are no particular guidelines for fat consumption. Athletes and active people should adhere to healthy dietary standards that state that fat should account for 35% of your total daily energy consumption.

Hydration and fluid intake for sports nutrition

Finally, we must not forget the need to stay hydrated. It is critical to emphasize the importance of hydration since water is vital for life, and our bodies are made up of around 70% water.

Severe dehydration can lead to poor athletic performance, headaches, nausea, dizziness, heat-related sickness, diminished mental function, and death in the worst-case scenario.

Maintaining a sufficient hydration intake is therefore critical for success in your performance, both mentally and physically. Always begin your workouts and competitions hydrated, and restore the fluids (and sodium) lost via sweating as quickly as possible. You can take sports drinks or Tailwind for hydration after intense physical activity.

The general population is advised to consume around 2 liters of water per day for males and 1.6 liters for women. These guidelines, however, do not consider an individual’s perspiration rate (the quantity of fluid lost through sweat) or activity.

As a result, it is critical to adjust hydration techniques to your specific needs. Your objective should be to stay hydrated at all times, not only when you feel thirsty, as you may already be dehydrated.

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