Wellness

How food plays an important role in life of an athlete?

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Food and nutrition plays an important role in the life of an athlete. The food intake of a sportsperson determines their body strength, agility, endurance and fitness. The work out or fitness regime any athlete follows, must be complemented well by diet to have more beneficial effects.

A proper well-planned diet forms the foundation of an athlete’s performance. As much as practice is important for an athlete, diet intakes form a major part to attain the right kind of body type for any sport.

Dietary requirement for every sport is different; therefore, one generic diet plan is not applicable across.  In addition, the body of each individual athlete is different; therefore, the diet plan should be customized according to the sport being played and the body type.

An apt diet of a sportsperson should consist of right mix of protein, carbohydrates, fats, minerals and vitamins. Kabaddi player, be it a raider or defender, needs to be strong, powerful and agile.

Protein is the most important part of an athlete’s diet because it plays a significant role in post-game recovery which refers to recovery of the whole body. Post-workout recovery refers to recovery of specific body parts i.e. the muscle tears post workout and protein intake helps in recovering the specific muscle worked on by strengthening the muscle tissue. Eggs, pulses, almonds, chicken are a few protein rich item. It also helps gain strength required for Kabaddi moves and helps to recover after strenuous Kabaddi session.

Carbohydrates improve player’s performance by delaying fatigue and thus allowing an athlete to play for a longer period. Carbs also provide energy. Carbohydrates also aid in enabling fat metabolism. Having good carbs can help control weight.

Healthy fats, such as omega-3 and omega-6 are also necessary for body as fats make up majority of energy during longer or intense workouts. Minerals and vitamins are micronutrients, which also play an important rolein athlete’s diet. Leafy vegetables are a great source of minerals and vitamins.

Fitness camps which are held before the season begins helps to condition our body to consume a diet after a gym or a kabaddi mat session which helps to take our fitness level on the higher side.

Apart from including these essential nutrients in one’s intake, an athlete must also exclude body-harming foods from his or her diet. Always aim at having gluten free snacks. Junk food, fast food, fried food and baked items are a strict no. It is also advisable to not have very spicy food. Reducing added sugars is very important, as it tends to damage the body.

We have a lot of dry fruits and fruits when our body craves for food, especially when we have training sessions twice a day, we have fruits in our rooms which help us curb the cravings of food since they are not too heavy and don’t make us feel sluggish.

It is important for all athletes to stay hydrated all the time; therefore, they need to keepconsuming water and electrolytes, which helps in maintaining the body fluid balance.

With everything said, the most important thing to keep in mind is that an athlete should always follow his or her diet religiously. One may be tempted to cheat at times, but you should not give into that temptation. It is also important to have food in right proportion and not overdo.

(Disclaimer: The writer is Girish Ernak, Captain, Puneri Paltan. Views expressed are a personal opinion.)

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