Sports Nutrition

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate October 2001

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SPORTS NUTRITION Nutritional factors can influence performance at almost any stage during training or competition. Some of the most important nutrients are carbohydrates, fats, amino acids, and fluids.

CARBOHYDRATES One of the most important nutrients to athletic performance is carbohydrate. They play an important role in supplying your brain and body and power. The body can't supply enough carbohydrate on its own, so you need to get them from foods. You may get tired while exercising with a low level of carbohydrate.

Carbohydrate is stored as glycogen, which is stored in the muscles and liver. Liver glycogen is used to maintain blood sugar, which fuels the brain, nervous system, and other cells. Optimal blood sugar levels are important for clear, brain function and critical to sharp, high speed mental performance. If you have low blood sugar you will become tired and weak. Muscle glycogen fuels muscle cells during exercise. Fat and muscle glycogen supplies energy during endurance activities.

One primary goal of sports nutrition is to store more glycogen.

When you exercise hard, there is a continual loss of glycogen from the active skeletal muscle during the long exercise. When the glycogen stores become depleted the athlete will not be able to exercise intensely and will experience fatigue. A gradual decline in muscle glycogen can result in chronic fatigue, occurs during strenuous training. Chronic fatigue often limits an athlete to compete at his full potential. If you do not eat enough carbohydrates to refill the stores that are depleted in each workout, you may not have enough carbohydrates available during ensuing workouts. Therefore, consuming carbohydrates during endurance exercise can postpone fatigue and prolong peak performance.

Diet and endurance training influence the amount of glycogen stored in muscle and the time it takes to exhaustion. A high carbohydrate diet may increase...