Published on March 22, 2021

sports nutrition

Sports Medicine: Nutrition is Key to Optimal Performance

Whether you're a young athlete, competitive athlete, or the parent of an athlete, nutrition plays an important role in your life. Read on to understand the key elements of nutrition and how it's leveraged to help you stay healthy and optimize sports performance.

If you’re an athlete, you know that food is fuel - the source of energy you need for top performance. That’s the focus of sports nutrition, an essential specialty within sports medicine.

March is National Nutrition Month created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to increase awareness of the importance of nutrition and how nutrition experts, known as registered dietitians (RD), can help you achieve your goals.

Dietitians are focused on advising athletes to keep their bodies in good condition before, after and during physical activity.

Breaking down the basics

  • Lean protein
  • Healthy fats
  • Fresh veggies
  • Whole grains

Young and adolescent athletes require good nutrition to support healthy growth, skill development and performance.

Protein is an important source of energy. Meal timing is also critical, so the body has time to absorb protein and create new muscle mass during exercise. And, with the trend in vegetarian or vegan diets among athletes, extra attention must be given to proper intake of protein, carbohydrates and fats to provide energy during exercise.

Dieticians can assess food habits, timing, amounts and types of foods you frequently eat. They can also be the first line of defense for debunking myths about fad diets and other misinformation that athletes may hear from teammates or read on social media.

Fluids are essential, too

Food isn’t the only element of healthy nutrition. Adequate hydration and electrolytes are essential for health and athletic performance. We lose water throughout the day, but active athletes lose additional body water through sweating.

Rehydration with water — and sports drinks containing sodium — are important. For certain athletes and intense events, the type of rehydration can be critical to recovery.

Got questions? Talk to your experts

You may be a young athlete, competitive athlete, or the parent of an athlete. Whatever the case, nutrition will play an important role in your life. It can help enhance athletic performance, improve injury recovery, and make reaching your goals possible.

Adventist HealthCare Rehabilitation's sports injury specialists are ready to help you stay healthy and performing your best. For more information, visit our webpage.

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