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Healthy Diet Plans >>  Sports Nutrition >>  The Training Diet

The Training Diet

To get categorized as an elite athlete not only requires good genes or good training and conditioning, but also requires the foundation of a balanced nutritional diet. A good nutrition plays a very important role in optimizing and enhancing an athlete’s performance. A balanced training diet is required daily, and not just one or two days before an event.

Along with other factors like age, sex and built the daily energy recommendations for a healthy individual are based on the activity level of a person. As athletes are involved in extensive physical activity, they require additional energy to fuel the physical activity.
The Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for men and women that are involved in light-moderate activity between the ages of 19-50 years are 2,900 and 2,200 respectively.

A diet should comprise 60-70% of carbohydrates which includes whole cereals, whole wheat and wheat products, pastas, breads, rice, fruits and vegetables. Consume at least 7-9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. The intake of refined flour and sugars should be minimal. To stay energized and perform at your best use a carbohydrate strategy. High protein foods in the form of eggs, milk, lean meats, chicken, pulses, legumes and sprouts are required by the body to build new tissues and perform other functions. Proteins should comprise 12-15% of the total caloric intake. Fats should comprise not more than 20-25% of the total calories. Including too much fat is associated with extra weight gain, heart diseases, cancer and more importantly not getting enough carbohydrates in the diet leading to poor performance. The need of vitamins and mineral and other nutrients will depend on the energy levels, the need would increase in high caloric diet and decrease in a moderate-low calorie diet.

The main fundamental difference between a healthy individual’s diet and an athlete diet is the requirement of additional fluids. Fluid loss is extensive in athletes in the form of sweat and urine, to replace these fluids and avoid dehydration it is important to maintain a normal fluid and electrolyte balance. The timing of meals and snacks are important in an athlete’s diet and are largely individualized according to the intensity, duration, frequency of a work out and his gastrointestinal conditions.  

Besides these lifelong healthy dietary habits, it is very important to consume appropriate meals and fluid before, during and after exercise. Fad diets are becoming increasingly popular, but one should keep in mind that these often restrict consumption of certain foods and is not for life time. So try to include all the food groups in your diet in a balanced form to avoid any nutritional deficiencies.
Submitted on January 16, 2014