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Nutritions are the main aspects of optimal performance.

An effective training plan is an important factor in sports training to enhance athletic performance.

Nutritions are also one of the most vital elements in contributing to better performance. The fuel that you put inside has a direct correlation with your performance.

Rule 1: What you consume is important.

Healthy weight management matters for athletes even more than for sedentary people. Few studies have been conducted on the Ethiopian runners which have confirmed that those who are the fastest have the lowest fat percentage. Excessive fat accumulation may impair health and increase the energy cost of running.

A typical runner who sheds just one pound of body fat could see a one-minute improvement in his or her marathon time without any change in fitness.  Golden rule number one is that you should pick foods that are high in nutrients and low in additives, preservatives, and refined ingredients.

Rule 2: Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates play a major role in athletes’ optimal performance. They are the main source of energy that is converted into glycogen or stored glucose that fuels the muscles and the liver. While protein and fat can also provide glucose, carbohydrates remain the fastest and easiest source of it.

A good amount of carbohydrates help to keep energy levels high. Once glycogen stores are depleted, your body runs out of fuel and you will hit the wall. The average requirement for general training needs (less than 1 hour a day) is 5-7 g/kg BW/day. For endurance training which lasts around 1 to 3 hours, it is 7-10 g/kg BW/day.

Choose good carbohydrates like fruits, veggies, and whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, or rolled oats.

Rule 3: Protein foods

Protein foods are important for building and repairing muscles. A well-balanced diet containing everyday foods will generally supply more than enough protein. The timing and the type of protein are important as the amount of protein in a diet.

Consuming protein after the training or before going to bed will give your body a good source for rebuilding muscle tissue. Get protein from lean meats, fish, and eggs. Beans and dairy products like cottage cheese and Greek yogurt are great sources of protein for vegetarians. An average requirement for adults is 1.2 to 1.7g/kg BW/day of protein.

Rule 4: 20-25% of the energy consumption should come from fats.

Dietary fat is a macronutrient that provides energy to your body. Fat is essential to your health because it supports a number of functions in your body.

Same as protein, it helps to slow the rate at which the carbohydrates enter the bloodstream, thus providing sustained, consistent energy. Dietary fat also helps the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin E – a powerful antioxidant that helps quicken the recovery process.

For fats, look for mixed unsalted nuts, peanut butter, olive or canola oil, avocados, as well as oily fish.

Rule 5: Fish oil

Number one source of Omega-3 fatty acids that are not produced by our bodies and therefore should be obtained through food or supplements. Fish oil will benefit any athlete from runner to golfer. It makes you stronger and leaner which is essential for optimal performance.

Omega-3 fatty acids reduce exercise-induced muscle damage and delayed-onset muscle soreness, thus speeding up the recovery between hard training sessions. For endurance athletes who are constantly under physical and environmental stress, fish oil is a must supplement. Malaysian athletes are encouraged to take fish oil, as omega-3s help enhance performance in hot climates.

Rule 6: Varied and wholesome nutrient-rich diet

A varied and wholesome nutrient-rich diet that meets the energy needs of an athlete and is based largely on vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, grains, lean animal meats, oils. Carbohydrates should ensure an adequate intake of all essential vitamins and minerals.

Getting the right amount of energy to stay healthy and to perform well is key. Too much and body fat increases: too little and performance falls, resulting in illness.

Rule 7: Hydration

Maintaining hydration is important for athletic performance. An adequate intake of fluid before, during (where appropriate), and after exercise is especially important in hot climates.

Salt replacement is important when sweat losses are high, but needs vary between athletes. Forget about the eight glasses a day rule. You probably need more. Drink when you think you need to and check your urine color. It should be light yellow color. If it is dark, time to get some water!

Rule 8: Vitamins

Athletes are cautioned against the indiscriminate use of dietary supplements, but careful use of a small number of supplements and sports foods may benefit some athletes. Vitamins, protein shakes, and BCAAs are important additions to an athlete’s diet. Choose the companies you trust and keep looking for a brand that suits you the most.

Rule 9: Iron

Iron deficiency is a concern for all athletes. If you are on the training peak, maintenance of iron stores becomes even more difficult as it is lost in sweat like sodium and calcium. Iron levels can take up to six months to become dangerously depleted and you might not notice it right away.

Constant impact activity, such as running and cycling, reduces iron levels more dramatically due to a more strenuous form of hemolysis. With each foot strike, a small amount of blood is released from the damaged capillaries.

This will cause anemia if the athlete does not pay close attention to diet. Iron-rich plant-based foods such as peanut butter, soybean nuts, apricots, and most of the nuts are best consumed on a daily basis with vitamin C to help with absorption. If the training mileage is greater than 50 miles (80km) per week, an iron supplement is recommended. To maintain efficient levels of iron, take regular blood tests twice a year.

Rule 10: Food is life!

Most importantly, athletes should enjoy the foods that they eat, confident in the knowledge that they have made wise choices. Don’t cut off the entire group of food trying to lose weight because someone told you it will help.

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