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Nutrition is a must for any athlete at any age and understanding the importance of nutrition is the first step at success.

Nutrition Is A Must For Athletic Success

MADISON- Proper nutrition is as important as any physical preparation for an athlete of any age or athletic endeavor. Time after time, athletes, especially teenagers, put aside the facts of good nutrition and concentrate on the physical conditioning of their bodies in preparation for an event or season of play.

According to nutritional experts, like Kayla Dahl, RD, LD of Crestwood Medical Center, nutrition can be the one area of an exercise program that easily make a difference.

“All athletes in a training program should watch what and when they are eating as many of those athletes cut calories, including carbohydrates, and too many cuts will cause you not to be able to perform,” said Dahl, clinical nutrition manager at Crestwood. “It’s best to adjust those changes a little bit, but too much.”

Understanding the importance of nutrition throughout an entire training cycle can improve performance. For any type of athletic undertaking recovery is the key to performance. Many athletes make the mistake of not considering how nutrition impacts recovery. Dahl suggests to focus on hydrating as lack of focusing in that area affects performance and weight of any athlete, especially those in high school.

“It’s best for some type of quick carbs after exercise like a piece of fruit or Gatorade,” added Dahl. “Anywhere 30-60 minutes after a workout it’s best to replenish the protein and carbs with foods like whole grains, lean chicken, fish, milk, yogurt or eggs. Stay away from packaged foods and fast foods.”

High school age athletes many times will not adhere to the guidelines of their coaches or other experts, especially in the area of nutrition. The younger generation seems to always be on the go and eating properly is not tops on their agenda. It’s best they have some type of grab and go items to help with the carbs and proteins issues.

As for the older athletes, there are many nutritional challenges they face as the body is older and many times well abused during a workout or sporting event. One of the most concerning issues for the older generation is age-related loss of muscle mass, which not only can impact performance, but can reduce overall health. Muscle mass begins to decline in the fourth and fifth decade of your life and a good way to slow down the progression of that loss is daily protein intake and the physical activity. Endurance athletes need more protein than their counterparts and having proper nutrition can combat the aging of the muscles and help keep them vibrant and viable for any athletic force they are facing.

Dahl, who has been a nutritionist for five years, warns the community about false claims about nutrition on the internet. She suggested to be diligent on knowing where the information comes from as the wrong guidance could be detrimental and very dangerous. Dahl was once a high school athlete and remained involved with athletics through college.

“Dieticians are available at Crestwood Medical Center or on-line services are aplenty at the proper websites,” said Dahl.

Commitment to athletics should include nutrition as the value of nutrition can make any athlete a winner.

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