Do you believe that athletes have special diet plans? The thing is that athletes only need more from their diet to meet the demands of their corresponding sports. Athletes maintain a healthy diet Just as the same as anybody else who are health conscious. No matter how mouthful their appetites are, it does not really matter if they eat that much. It is because they can easily burn all of those with their continuous activities on their respective sports. However, compared to most individuals, athletes are the most disciplined ones when it comes to their diet. They are mindful not to get excess fats. It may be very hard and heavy for them to move, jump, or run. That would be another burden for them and for the coaches as well.

How about during the off season? Is it going to be the same usual diet that they have during the previous season? You can consider the fact that during the off season, the activities of such athletes may not be as demanding compared to the actual season games. However, athletes continue to shape up even in the off season. The off season is, actually, the best time for athletes to trim their extra fats and enhance their physical condition. Their diet should be maintained in a way that their body will be supplemented with high levels of energy as well as for muscle build up.

If you are an athlete, here is how you should plan your diet during the off season:

1. Fat intake
Fats are considered to be a good source of energy for athletes. It can add up to 75% of fuel during a longer oxygen demanding activity, or also referred as aerobic exercise. Since it can provide energy for longer periods of time, fat is useful in enhancing an athlete’s endurance. Some experts say that the breakdown of fats in our body can be accelerated by taking in caffeinated products either before or during a sport activity. This only means that caffeine can speed up the body’s usage of fats as energy. The real disadvantage of taking caffeine is its stimulant and diuretic effects. As a stimulant, it may affect an athlete’s normal sleeping pattern, as well as his breathing pattern, beating pattern of the heart, and many others. On the other hand, as a diuretic, it can increase an athlete’s urinary frequency and/ or urgency causing him to lose significant amount of fluids via micturation, or urination. Dehydration may then arise as another problem. Moreover, Fats can also help lubricate the joints. This can help athletes maintain freely movable limbs all over their bodies.
The intake of fats will solely depend on the age and gender. Do not forget to control its intake to prevent occurrences of health problems.

2. Increase protein in the diet
Driskell, J., and Wolinsky, I. in “Energy-Yielding Macronutrients and Energy Metabolism in Sports Nutrition,” presented that the recommended dietary intake of proteins for athletes is 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight (1g/lb).

Proteins are very much important for muscle build up. For athletes who want to enhance their muscle strength, they should increase the intake of proteins. Aside from developing the muscles, proteins are also good for tissue repair. They are good for healing those wounds and strained muscles acquired during the previous season. It can also make your body tissues intact as athletes continually perform their daily exercises. Another great function of proteins is that they maintain the balance of fluids within the body. Proteins, like albumin, hold fluids in place within certain body areas and prevent it from shifting into other compartments. When such shifting occurs, edema may be visible in many areas of the body. The most common areas are the lower extremities. Sources of proteins are more on animal meats and soy products.

3. High carbohydrate diet.
Carbohydrates are better sources of energy for endurance rather than fats. As it is taken into the body it is now called as glucose. Glucose can be stored in the liver, or muscles. As athletes perform their activities, they can utilize the stored glucose to keep up with the physical demands of such activities, making them last longer than expected. In addition, carbohydrates can hold more oxygen than fats. And oxygen means energy. Increasing carbohydrate intake adds up more energy. Examples of foods high in carbohydrates are the following: cereals, grains, white bread, whole wheat bread, white, rice, barley, oatmeal, spaghetti, pasta, muffins, fruits, and milk.

4. Water
Water is a very important mineral that aids in many functions of body organs. Water can help enhance a good blood circulation for the delivery of oxygen and nutrients in all parts of the body. Anderson, J., Young, L., and Prior, S. presented the recommendation of water intake for athletes.

Recommendations for hydration:

Day before Drink fluids frequently
Pre-event meal 2-3 cups water
2 hours before 2-2 1/2 cups water
1/2 hour before 2 cups water
Every 10-15 minutes during the event 1/2 cup cool (45-55 degrees) water
After event 2 cups fluid for each pound lost

The presentation in this table is much more relevant if the athletes are on their way of shaping up, or training, during the off season. The most important thing is to take at least 6 – 8 glasses of water every day as the recommended daily intake.

5. Vitamins
Vitamins are very relevant for enhancing the functions of several enzymes in the body. They, actually, function as co-enzymes. Vitamin Bs aid in the production of energy from its sources as mentioned above. Athletes can also take other vitamins such as vitamins A, C, D, E, and K. These vitamins can serve as antioxidants, and are also good for vision and tissue regeneration. Vitamin D stimulates the production of calcium in the body, and vitamin K prevents bleeding tendencies.

6. Other Minerals: K, Na, Ca, iron
Mineral are continuously used by athletes such as Sodium, Potassium, calcium, and iron. There can be a decreased in their number since it is always being expended by the body. For instance, sodium is lost through sweat; potassium can be lost due to frequent urination which is also caused by spontaneous water intake; calcium would be lost because the bones and muscles use it for better functioning; and iron is highly needed for oxygen consumption. Drinking water alone cannot replenish sodium. Athlete should eat salted foods in order to add more sodium in the body. For potassium, bananas, apples, or avocados are good enough. Potassium is good for the functioning of the heart. For calcium, the best thing to do is to take calcium supplements. Research shows that absorption of calcium in milk is only up to the age of 3. Whatever the issue with this research is, calcium supplements are better sources of such mineral. Lastly, iron is very much essential for the transport of oxygen in the body. Its sources are primarily exogenous. It means it can be attained in other sources than our own bodies. Foods high in iron are mostly organ meat such as the liver and red meat.

You can visit powerbar to see samples of meal plans for athletes. They have the experts who can orient you more on the proper nutrition for all sorts of athletes.