Proper nutrition vital to athletic performance

Diet containing carbohydrates and water is essential prior to starting sporting events


Healthy Food

Before practice or a game, an appropriate diet  increases performance and can help one have an edge over opponents. A proper diet is important for preparation, which is vital and applicable to all sports and activities. To test the influence proper diet has on performance, I tried the nutrient packed goji berry before a water polo game.

Goji berries positively impacted my personal performance during games. These berries, which contain more protein than whole wheat, were easy on the stomach, which made me feel light and did not cause any gaseous problems. The high amounts of potassium, iron and vitamins provided my body with sufficient nutrients to carry out the task of treading water and sprinting back and forth across the pool.

Proper nutrition is vital to player performance because it prevents low blood sugar and provides the body with energy. Symptoms of low blood sugar include dizziness, muscle fatigue, and nausea. These symptoms drastically lower performance during games and practice.

Carbohydrates are a great source of nutrition as they break down faster than fat and protein, making them safe options for quick energy before exercise. Foods high in carbohydrates are pasta, rice and various cereals. Small amounts of protein and fat such as meat, fish and dairy products are advisable as well.

It is important to eat bland foods, that do not cause a spike in blood sugar. Foods such as candy or anything with high amounts of caffeine, cause a rapid blood sugar increase, that only lasts momentarily before blood sugar quickly falls back down. This causes a sugar crash. It is important to eat foods packed with healthy nutrients that raise your blood sugar and maintain it.

Besides avoiding foods with lots of caffeine, meals high in fiber should also be avoided. Excessive amounts of fiber can cause one to be gaseous and uncomfortable, lowering performance effectiveness. Water is an essential that is often overlooked. Drinking lots of water the day of the event is important, but drinking lots of water the day before is important too. Various meals take different times to digest, so eating the right sized meal accordingly is critical.

Meals should be eaten three hours before the desired event, according to a study done at the University of Illinois. These meals should consist of 500-1000 calories, according to dietician Cynthia Proscia.

Eating a small nutritious snack  before certain athletic activities, can drastically increase athletes’ levels of play.