Strength, technique, flexibility and practice are some of the most common terms associated with sports. Often under-rated, one of the most important is – Diet. Properly monitored food intake is extremely important for ensuring the best performance on the field. Just as an improper technique or poor training may affect an athlete’s performance, incorrect diet regime may do the damage.

Every sporting discipline requires a carefully charted out diet plan to accommodate the strenuous practices and recovery of the body post-exertion. A well-planned diet plan must cater to the athlete’s nutritional requirements and also provide sufficient protein for muscle growth and repair.

Although there is no hard & fast rule concerning the do’s & dont’s for an athlete’s diet, some of the essential elements of an ideal diet are as follows:

Carbohydrates for fuel and recovery: While the average person might be overloading on carbs, a sportsperson needs carbs as fuel owing to his/her intensive practice routines. The intake of carbs should vary with the duration, the frequency and intensity of the athlete’s workout. Foods rich in unrefined carbs should be the bedrock of an athlete’s diet, such as brown bread, cereal etc.

Protein and Sporting Performance: Proteins form a crucial part of a sportsman’s diet. Protein helps in the recovery and repair of the body, which is crucial for long-term health and fitness. Generally, the protein needs of a sportsperson are just slightly above those of an average person, with the exception of sportsmen pursuing high-intensity workouts and weight training.

Water: Dehydration can impair sporting performance. Taking plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise is key to sustaining health with intensive exercise routines. Lack of fluids in the body might lead to extreme health issues like dizziness, collapse etc. Sports drinks with electrolytes might be needed to avoid muscle cramps.

Sports Supplements: Diet supplements provide additional nutrients to the body and are often used in sports to enhance the nutritional intake of the body. Although, dietary supplements might not be helpful if the body is already able to get sufficient quantities of all the nutrients from food.

Whether you play a sport as a hobby or pursue it professionally, it is important to understand your dietary requirements with respect to the additional dietary requirements. With an increase in the popularity of sports culture, it is important to address all the concerns relating to sports. People often ignore the changes required in their diet to accommodate their daily exercise and ultimately suffer long-term ailments and injuries.

Consulting a doctor or dietitian regarding your daily food intake needs is the right way to start. Any major inclusions or exclusions to your diet must be advised by a health professional exclusively. With the right diet plan, your body will be at its best to deliver and will be less prone to injuries or ailments.

Role of a well-crafted diet in sports is undeniably crucial, so plan it well and find yourself ready to give your best on the field.

By Shubham Sethi