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Health3Wc-Icon-4In addition to exercise and training, a balanced diet is important in helping athletes stay fit all year round, and it is recommended that they derive two-thirds of their total caloric intake from carbohydrates, one-third from proteins and a moderate amount from healthy fats.

Here is a nutrition guide that can help athletes and people who exercise frequently stay in shape and maximise their performance:

Carbohydrates found in lean meat, brown noodles and rice as well as whole-wheat bread and cereal are ideal. Long periods of strenuous physical activity causes carbohydrate depletion, resulting in fatigue, nausea and spells of dizziness, which is why it is important for athletes to stay ‘carbed up’ before a match.

Proteins found in cheese, chicken, eggs, fish and milk are recommended due to their rich amino acid content, which builds new muscle tissue and repairs damaged cartilage and cells.

Healthy fats (found in avocados, fish, nuts and olives) provide a host of benefits including the development of muscles. Fried food and desserts should be avoided, as they take a long time to digest and cause lethargy.

Vitamin intake is essential to maintaining lean body mass;fruit and vegetables such as bananas, broccoli, cauliflower, peaches and tomatoes have high vitamin content which increases energy and red cell production, maintains healthy bones and boosts immunity.

Minerals including calcium and magnesium are found in dairy products, leafy greens and nuts. Calcium regulates muscle contraction and blood clotting while magnesium ensures optimal functioning of the neuromuscular and cardiovascular systems.

Fluid intake before, during and after intensive exercise is essential to avoid dehydration and to replace essential salts lost through perspiration. In addition to water, fresh fruit juice is recommended to ensure that the body stays hydrated.

– Dr Beenish Israr
The writer is Lecturer, Food and Nutrition, at University of Agriculture, Faisalabad.

First published in the Health Advertiser Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on June 8, 2014.

 

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