Sports nutrition is a phenomenon which is relatively new to many people. Most people are more familiar with popular diets which promote weight loss, weight maintenance or muscle growth and do not realize that there are similar diets for those who require heightened energy levels for sports performance. Endurance athletes such as marathon runners and Ironman distance triathletes are just a few examples of athletes who have special dietary concerns. A marathon consists of a 26.2 mile run and an Ironman triathlon consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride followed by a 26.2 mile run. It should be evident from these distances that events of this nature require special dietary and nutritional considerations. The following steps will help you to learn more about sports nutrition:
- Most endurance athletes learn from their mistakes. Although we wouldn't advocate going into an endurance event with no nutritional information, most athletes of this nature are continually reevaluating their nutritional strategy based on their previous performance. For example, an athlete who experiences severe cramping may opt to incorporate more sodium into his next endeavor while an athlete who experiences a complete lack or energy, known as bonking, towards the end of the race may realize he needs to consume more carbohydrates in future races. This is not the most recommended method for learning about sports nutrition because inadequate nutrition could result in serious health concerns such as dehydration and ketosis.
- Learning from other endurance athletes is also advisable. If you have a friend or relative who has been competing in endurance events, he may be able to offer you advice regarding the ratio of carbohydrates, fats and proteins he consumes while training or racing. These ratios will vary from person to person but a plan which works well for someone else can be used as a good starting point.
- Reading on the subject is also a good way to learn about sports nutrition. Books such as the Sports Nutrition Guidebook and Nancy Clark's Food Guide for Marathoners, both by renowned sports nutrition expert Nancy Clark, are excellent resources for those wishing to learn more on the subject of nutrition for sports. The above suggestions are just two of the popular books on the subject but a visit to your local library or bookstore will reveal more worthwhile books on the subject.
- Endurance athletes are not the only ones with specific dietary concerns. Other individual and team sports also have specific nutritional requirements. Attending sports-specific camps are another way to learn about the specific nutritional requirements for your sport of choice. Camps aren't just for children on summer vacation anymore. More and more camps for adults are emerging. These camps are usually short in duration, typically ranging from a weekend to two weeks. During the course of these camps, adults can learn more about their chosen sport as well as receive valuable information regarding the types and quantities of foods which will help them to excel in their sport. More information on sports camps for adults can be found at US Sports Camps.