Eat to Compete | Kretschmer Wheat Germ
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Eat to Compete

Whether you’re a competitive athlete or a gym rat who exercises a few hours a week, getting the right fuel in the appropriate amount is key to a great workout or successful competition.

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the diet recommended for an athlete is similar to the diet recommended for most healthy people. Athletes, though, need additional calories depending on the sport and how much time they train.

Eating right, and eating “real” food as opposed to pills and liquid supplements, helps you achieve longer workouts and quicker recoveries.

More than half your daily calories should come from carbohydrates. Carbs provide energy during exercise; they are stored in the form of glycogen and are the body’s first go-to energy source. Healthy carbohydrates include whole-grain pasta, potatoes, whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa and barley, bagels, whole grain breads, fruit, milk, yogurt and vegetables.

Protein is important for muscle growth and repairing body tissues. It can be used by the body for energy, but only after glycogen, or carbohydrate stores, are depleted. The healthiest proteins are low in saturated fat, such as the protein found in fish, chicken, turkey (all without skin), nuts, tofu, eggs and beans.

Fat also provides body fuel. Fifteen percent of total energy intake should come from fat. Healthy fats include avocado, nuts and nut butters, seeds, olive oil and vegetable oils.

You can get enough vitamins and minerals in your diet when you eat a variety of foods that contain protein, carbs and fat. Wheat germ contains all three! It’s delicious sprinkled in recovery chocolate milk, a smoothie or a yogurt parfait, or used in breading on a pre-race meal the night before a competition or workout. It’s packed with essential B vitamins and contains iron, potassium, vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorous and zinc.

And don’t forget to stay hydrated! Water is one of the most important nutrients for athletes. Drink water two hours before your workout and continue to sip throughout the exertion. Remind children to drink, too; their thirst cue is not as strong as adults’.