Advice for the Average Athlete: Eat Real Food

June 09, 2008 07:00 AM
by Sarah Amandolare
While many nutritionists advocate eating specific foods at specific times for optimum athletic performance, others take a less strict approach to diet.

30-Second Summary

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, and that recovery is essential because it prepares the body for the next workout.

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.

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.

Headline Links: Are guidelines necessary?

Background Links: Energy and recovery

Reference: Dietary specifics

Related Links: Nutrition for runners


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