Is your diet right for you?
When it comes to "diet," most people think more about calories than nutrition.
Adventure Sports Weekly
When it comes to "diet," most people think more about calories than nutrition. Those who are concerned about nutrition often buy into advice given by media-based experts. They may even change the food they eat to match recommended diets, going gluten free or carb free or some other food fad of the moment.
But taking general diet advice from a magazine or TV show guest is similar to listening to some "expert" recommending a size nine pair of shoes — they may fit or they may not, depending on individual foot size.
To get it right, your diet must be individualized personally for you. If you're an athlete, or live an active lifestyle, your body will use vitamins, minerals, calories, proteins and carbohydrates differently than a more sedentary person. In addition, even a personalized diet should change according to circumstances. If you're taking a two-week beach vacation, which will be spent mainly lying in the sun instead of hitting the gym three or four times a week, adjust your diet for the inactivity. Otherwise, you'll be taking home the souvenir of a new layer of fat.
Most athletes know that they need protein to help repair muscles after a hard training session or a competition. But chowing down a platter-sized steak isn't the answer. First, no matter how strenuous the workout or event, recovery doesn't require a large amount of extra protein. Second, any protein not immediately needed by the body will be stored as fat.
One of the vitamins most neglected by athletes is the B complex, consisting of eight different vitamins that are usually found together in food such as meat and fish. B1 (Thiamine) and B6 (Pyridoxine) are specifically required by athletes. Studies have shown that athletes without enough B1 and B6 have lower energy levels and will train or compete less effectively than they do with a sufficient supply. But here's the complicated part: the B complex is water soluble. That means it is quickly flushed out of the body in urine. So eating a meal full of the B complex in the morning won't help you much in the afternoon. Smaller and more frequent meals as well as supplements will help maintain your B level. In addition, taking one B factor alone may be useless if you don't have all the other factors. The body needs them all to metabolize any individual part of the B complex.
Active humans burn lots of calories. The bad news is that this process creates free radicals, which cause both cellular and DNA damage. But our bodies have a natural defense system which neutralizes free radicals, an antioxidant system that's even more developed in well-conditioned athletes. But those who want to ensure the elimination of any free radicals should eat foods high in the nutrients C, E and A. The most easily metabolized form of vitamin A is from red or orange vegetables like tomatoes and carrots.
Finally, water is a necessary part of your diet. Proper hydration should start several days before a competition so that all tissues contain maximum water. If you're getting dehydrated during a workout or long event, you may feel it as a dry mouth or twitchy and cramping muscles rather than thirst. If you need hydration fast, go for cold, rather than air temperature water. Cold liquid is absorbed faster than warmer water, and it also cools your internal temperature, which has been heated up by activity.