We think of nutrition as synonymous with food but that is not entirely true. Without food we will not survive long but without these other essential parts of a diet we can’t use food. Our bodies need additions 4-6 plus fat, carbohydrate, and protein. See article #1 in Nutrition for Athletes for parts 1 – 3.
4. Vitamins/Minerals – are in our food and water. Our bodies are not able to produce these from within so we must insure that they are in our food or taken as supplements. When food is heated, certain essential nutrients may be destroyed. Additionally, supplements often need to be taken with or without other foods to be utilized.
While not a source of calories, vitamins and minerals are also essential for nutrition. Our needs are different at different times of our lives and at different levels of activity. Athletes need additional amounts of the electrolytes sodium and potassium in addition to iron, zinc, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, chromium. Vitamins needed include A, D, E, and K (stored in the body) and B, and C (water soluble).
5. Water – Absolutely essential! This element makes up more than half of our body weight and stabilizes our body temperature. Water provides a transport system to get nutrients where needed and carry waste products out of our bodies. The amount of water needed for a non-exercising individual is about 8 – 8 oz glasses per day. Another measure uses our body weight divided by two and drink that amount of ounces of water. Hard exercise uses about 32oz of water per hour of working out. Plan to add additional liquid when you exercise.
6. Fiber – Fiber provides non-energy bulk to our digestive system. For proper bodily function, fiber must be a regular part of our diet and comes mainly from whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. It is especially important for each of us to work with our own bodies during training to get the fiber/elimination process coordinated before a competition.
Sports nutrition is fascinating and, like the food pyramid itself, has changed over time. Don’t take one person’s word for anything. Do your own research before you try anything radical. You can almost always get one quack or two to start a trend but there is safety in numbers, in my mind.
Coach Stephanie is a professional running coach with sports nutrition certification and more than three decades of experience. The field of athletics and what we eat is becoming more and more intertwined. Follow Coach Stephanie on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gowowteam