Are you really bringing your “A” game every day? How would you know? You see, it isn’t just about getting the workout done, it is about believing in your body and mind, and about knowing you’ve prepared yourself to achieve all you are truly capable of achieving. Athletes, both young and old, often treat nutrition as an afterthought to their workout. Showing up to a practice on an empty stomach or eating junk food prior to a grueling strength training session means you are showing up with a “C” game mentality and you’re sabotaging your body, your mind, your game.

In my previous article, I talked about the importance of eating five small meals a day to maintain proper blood sugar levels and to allow for optimal energy. The amounts and types of food that an athlete puts into their bodies directly influence the body’s ability to digest, absorb, and use nutrients. The energy needed for muscle repair, growth, development, and recovery during the season is not going to come from a one-time bar or protein shake; it can only come from consistent and optimized nutrition during pre-season, early season, in season and game day. You might get away with cheating for a while, but eventually, you will see the results from your lack of discipline in your athletic performance on game day. Likewise, when you give your body the right kinds and amounts of fuel, you are less likely to get injured, heal faster if you do get injured, and have more energy available for both the short burst energy expenditures and longer energy use.

Now for a lesson in nutrition and how the body gets energy from nutrition for exercise, otherwise known as metabolism. Another way to think of metabolism is as the chemical reactions that occur in an athlete’s body everyday at a cellular level where energy is being stored and released to allow muscles to do their work. All cells use ATP (adenosine triphosphate) as their major fuel source and when the bonds of this molecule are broken, the result is the release of large amounts of energy. The human body is such an amazing machine that it is constantly forming, breaking down, and then reforming these bonds as a continuous energy source used in muscle activity, repair, and growth. There are a total of three energy systems in the body that are capable of generating ATP and each of them are used in different types of sports activities: the phosphagen system, the anaerobic system, and the aerobic system. The length of the activity and type of activity the athlete is performing determines which of these systems the body uses.

The next article will expand on the foods that support these energy systems. Till then, eat well, train well, and bring your “A”game!

–To learn  more about athlete nutrition and Optimal Nutrition visit: http://optimalnutritioninc.com/

One Response to “Eat to Win: Nutrition for the Student Athlete Part II”
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