In the arena of competitive sports, physical training is a no-brainer. Often overlooked, however, is training the mind and feeding the body properly. Therein lies the juxtaposition of sports nutrition versus our normal meat-and-three mentality.
There exists a plethora of products available to today’s athletes, both legal and illegal. Depending on what sport you compete in, if it is short bursts of energy, long bouts of stamina, or other specialization, there exists a diet you can cater to suit your needs. In general, providing your body with the best available nutrients and inexpensive supplements is a good plan, whether training for a triathlon or just seeking more energy to get through the busy day.
Sports nutrition is the study and practice of nutrition and diet as it relates to athletic performance. It is concerned with the type and quantity of fluid and food taken by an athlete, and deals with nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, supplements and organic substances such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
There are career fields dedicated to the betterment of athletes’ eating habits such as the sports dietitian who provides individual and group/team nutrition counseling and education to enhance the performance of competitive and recreational athletes, on-site and during travel.
Even occasional athletes who like to stay in shape by working out, running or cycling three times a week can benefit from proper nutrition. Even for those who would rather be a coach potato it pays to eat right. The question is raised what can I eat and how do I stay healthy? Experts recommend multi-vitamins for those over 50 and women can use calcium substitutes for keeping bones healthy as females tend to lose more calcium than males.
According to arthritis experts, by nature, women face a triple threat of risk factors when it comes to arthritis: biology, genetic predisposition, and hormones. Unfortunately, a lot of women have added a fourth risk factor to the mix — obesity.
Obesity is also across the board in the United States. Two out of every three Americans are considered to be overweight or obese. During the early 21st century, America often contained the highest percentage of obese people in the world. Government reports obesity percentages reaching 33.8 percent (adults) and 17 percent (children) in 2008.
Just taking a vitamin supplement isn’t enough. Athletes primarily have a tougher job regulating proper nutrition as some sports like the Tour de France bicycling race call for lean, light riders but they have to keep up stamina for long periods of time. One way to do this is to eat food high in carbohydrates the night before such as spaghetti, whereas an obese person would want to avoid meals high in carbohydrate’s as they are easily converted to sugar. Cyclists would burn this off, but if you don’t compete the diet advice is different.
Football players need carbs and proteins depending on the position they play, to bulk up muscles and increase stamina. There are health food stores where you can go to get supplements and diet aids which are healthy. Some type of cardiovascular exercise is also recommended. No exercise program should be started without first consulting with your doctor to make sure you’re healthy enough to undertake the physical requirements.
One way to regulate the meals you eat is make them at home and take it with you. Purchase a juicer and buy organic, fresh fruits and vegetables which are rich in vitamins and minerals. Research what types of natural supplements that can help. For example, confusion, irritability and forgetfulness can be signs of a B12 deficiency in adults. You can purchase supplements or foods high in Vitamin B12 include shellfish, liver, fish, crab, fortified soy products (tofu, soymilk), fortified cereals, red meat, low fat dairy, cheese, and eggs.
Locally, Juicy’s on Main Street provides healthy options. Mary Beth Laxson, owner, started the business initially because she had lung cancer and did the research on what foods are be beneficial. When her lung cancer went away, she feels it was directly related to making proper healthy eating choices.
Juicing puts a great deal of vitamins from fruits and vegetables concentrated into one glass. You can consume a several meals worth of benefits from one concentrated drink, which is naturally low in processed sugars and carbohydrates. Many people can stomach juice better than a supplement in pill form which can bother the stomach for some. Laxson would cater her juices to other cancer patients out of her car until that got to be too much, and the demand became a business.
“This business is personal to me,” said Laxson, who said the town really opened up to her. “The town really asked for it (healthy options). The right natural supplements can help athletes both in performance and healing quicker.”
Having a healthy option is beneficial. Although not a replacement for proper medical care, many doctor’s advice is to exercise regularly and eat well. One customer at Juicy’s definitely agreed. In July, Mary Schafer went to the doctor and found her A1C levels (sugar) way up to 7.2 including high triglycerides which can increase heart or stroke attack chances.
“My levels dropped from 7.2 to 6.1 when I just went in this month,” Schafer said. “My triglycerides were down to. He (my doctor) asked what I was doing and I told him I stopped by here once a day and he said whatever it was to keep doing it.” Schafer also has a home juicer she uses when not stopping at Juicy’s.
Another customer at Juicy’s just liked having healthy choices. McMinnville resident Logan Dyer said it was not like dieting at all.
“It’s more like a treat,” Dyer said. “I’ve been coming in now for two years. You hear vegetarian meal and you think it won’t be good but this is great.”
Juicy’s also serves veggie wraps and other natural goodies.
Regular blood tests can keep up with how well your program is working for you.
One thing about sports nutrition and eating well, it’s not a one-day decision. It’s a lifestyle.