Sports

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Advice for the Average Athlete: Eat Real Food

March 30, 2009 07:30 AM
by Sarah Amandolare
Some nutritionists believe sports drinks, power bars and timetables are crucial to a successful workout, others say listen to your body and eat real food.

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Among nutritionists, a 4-to-1 ratio of carbohydrates and proteins, consumed during and directly following endurance events, is considered the best way to heighten performance and speed recovery.

However, two doctors at McMaster University in Canada take a more lax approach to sports nutrition.

Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky and Dr. Stuart Phillips are both in their 40s and very active endurance athletes, but “neither one feels a need to ingest a special combination of protein and carbohydrates within a short window of time, a few hours after exercising,” reports The New York Times.

Furthermore, neither doctor regularly consumes energy drinks or energy bars, preferring to drink water and eat regular foods, such as fruit, instead.

Others, including San Antonio dietitian Laurel Tierney, emphasize eating the right foods at the right times, especially after exercising. Tierney believes 50 percent of performance is related to diet. She explains, recovery eating “sets you up for your next training session."

An article in Play Magazine, a New York Times publication, echoes Tierney's post-work-out concerns adding, “Repeated hard workouts can tax the body in insidious ways … Without remediation, those muscles won’t respond as well during your next workout. They’ll be more prone to injury.”

Experts have found that muscle regeneration begins with a post-workout meal, and it does not have to be laden with carbohydrates. According to John Ivy, chairman of the department of kinesiology and health education at the University of Texas in Austin, protein is key to stimulating insulin response; insulin increases muscular intake of glucose, which refuels the body.

As ABC News explains, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the key to energy during exercise. However, before the body can use it, ATP must be processed, which occurs slowly. Thus, experts recommend eating hours before working out, rather than shoving down food just beforehand.

With the range of advice available to athletes, perhaps the wisest advice is to pay attention to what feels best to you, which foods aid your workouts, and at what times, says ABC News.

Related Topics: Should you eat just before your workout?; Chocolate milk's sweet rewards

As ABC News explains, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the key to energy during exercise. However, before the body can use it, ATP must be processed, which occurs slowly. Thus, experts recommend eating hours before working out, rather than shoving down food just beforehand.

According to the Sacramento Bee, sports nutritionists and dietitians have different opinions regarding “what specifically to eat and how much protein to mix with carbs.” Seattle sports nutritionist Susan Kleiner, for example, prefers chocolate milk to energy bars after a workout. “The whey and casein proteins have an ideal array of amino acids,” Kleiner said.

Reference: Dietary specifics; Nutrition for runners

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