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Nutrition: A Key to Success in Sports

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Introduction

Nutrition: A Key to Success in Sports Certain foods can make a difference in sports competition. Conditioning, strength, and speed have been the focal points of athletic training for years; however, the research on nutritional elements indicates their importance to an athlete's optimal performance. Knowing the proper food to eat before, during, and after a physical activity can help an athlete in achieving their desired performance. The most important nutrient categories are starches, minerals, sugars, and electrolytes. Starches and minerals fit into the area of complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are polysaccharides (many sugars bonded together). Because of the multiple bonds, polysaccharides are able to store energy for later use. Simple sugars make up the other group of carbohydrates. The bonding structures of simple sugars are much less advanced that than those of complex carbohydrates. This allows for the burning of simple sugars in an athlete's body. Electrolytes are a category of their own because they are helpful to an athlete all of the time, whether energy storage or energy burning is needed. ...read more.

Middle

Their bonding patterns are opposite that of starches. Loosely bonded elements are stripped of electrons through oxidation. This is the reason for quick energy production and subsequent usage. Studies have concluded that premiere athlete may be capable of enduring for a longer time on simple sugars than an average athlete; however, he/she would have increased duration with the backup of complex carbohydrate. Yet, simple sugars have advantages in athletic competition. During a sporting event, quick energy can be a vital factor in success. Intense physical activity over an extended period of time will use all of the stored energy taken in before hand. The athlete's body needs energy quickly in order to continue. Sugars and electrolytes are the best source of energy during the event. Simple carbohydrates give the body a "boost" when it becomes run down or until it has time to oxidize other complex energy compounds. An athlete must eat the proper foods and drink the correct beverages before, during, and after intense activity. ...read more.

Conclusion

Beverages such as Gatorade and Powerade are another pathway to taking in simple compounds. These drinks are high in electrolytes and simple sugars. Water has electrolytes but special drinks have a higher concentration. The increased concentration allows for higher absorption into muscle cells. Foods containing starch, sugar, protein, and other compound categories should be used to replenish the athlete's body following competition. This is especially important if the athlete is planning on competing in the near future. Intense action diminishes the body's stored compounds. The amount of replenishment needed varies with the activity and the athlete. What an athlete takes into his/her body has the capability of helping or hindering performance. Exceptional athletes can become drained of energy if they have not taken in the correct dietary supplements before engaging in a sport. Knowing the proper supplements can increase stamina when it is needed. The importance of an appropriate diet has been overlooked in the past. Though conditioning, strength, speed, etc. are still very important to an athlete's success, nutrition has become a contributing factor in peak performance. Athletes must be aware of this and make the changes in their diet accordingly. ...read more.

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