A Special Note for Team Sports

Team sports such as soccer, basketball,volleyball, and football also present a unique set of challenges.If you are on a team, you need to be prepared to play at all times but,unlike in endurance sports, may spend some time on the bench.Team athletes also must consume carbohydrate and fluids at times that are allowed by the rules of the game (e.g., half-time or time-outs).In many cases, team athletes are limited to specific sport drinks or products and may not be allowed to eat solid foods such as bananas or watermelon slices on the sideline. And you must remember that both your fluid and carbohydrate needs vary depending on how much of the actual game or match you play and then supplement accordingly.Going crazy on sport drinks and carbohydrate supplements, can lead to unwanted weight gain.

Keep a water bottle or two labeled with your name near at all times, and consider filling one with a sport drink for more intense or prolonged practices. In a study of elite Australian basketball, netball, and soccer players, researchers found that the factors influencing fluid replacement during exercise included providing each athlete a water bottle, proximity to water during training sessions, encouraging athletes to drink, and athlete awareness of his or her own sweat rate.The duration and number of breaks or substitutions and the rules of the game are also influential, but you have no control over these influences.

Prioritizing the Post exercise Meal

The meal after exercise or competition is critical for providing the nutrients necessary for recovery and training adaptation. This meal, however, is often the one most neglected by athletes for reasons that are typically related to the lack of appetite that often occurs after grueling and long workouts and the desire to relax or celebrate—after all you have just worked hard! Not getting adequate nutrition after exercise, however, can negate your hard training efforts and also make training difficult in the following days.It is currently recommended that athletes consume a mixed meal providing carbohydrate, protein, and fat soon after training, practice, or competition, and also strive to replace fluid lost during the session. To replace lost body fluids,you should aim to consume about 150 percent of your body mass lost during exercise or about 1.5 liters of fluid for every kilogram of body mass lost (three cups for every pound lost), and include sodium and potassium in your recovery meals.This is important not only because both of these nutrients are lost through sweat and need to be replenished, but also because their replenishment helps restore fluid balance. 

Although the vegetarian diet is likely to contain ample potassium,which is abundant in fruits and vegetables, it may lack sodium-containing foods.Sodium intake can be a concern during periods of heavy training in athletes who avoid salt and processed foods. In fact, a more liberal intake of sodium is often appropriate for athletes, particularly if they notice salt residue on their dark-colored workout gear or find they have incredible cravings for salt.Your specific post exercise nutrition priorities, however, will depend on the intensity of your training that particular day and your (or your coach’s) training plans for the following days. 

For example, if you performed a two-hour run and have a fast-paced tempo run on your schedule tomorrow, your goal to replace muscle glycogen is a higher priority than if you have a rest day. Similarly, if you play most of a grueling volleyball match in the early morning, you need to aggressively replace as much carbohydrate as soon as you can if you hope to play your best in a match that evening or the following morning. In contrast, if you complete a tough 45-minute weight lifting or plyometrics workout, which is not likely to have depleted your glycogen stores, your focus will be on consuming protein along with carbohydrate to facilitate muscle growth and repair. 

In this case, neglecting postevent nutrition prevents you from optimizing the benefits of your resistance training. Because muscle-glycogen stores can be completely depleted at the end of a hard practice or workout, carbohydrate consumption should always be a priority on harder training days. Consumption of carbohydrate 20 to 30 minutes after exercise is essential for replenishing muscle-glycogen stores and enhancing muscle recovery and muscle-protein synthesis. 

Research has consistently shown that muscle glycogen can be replenished within 24 hours, providing the posteventintake and overall diet is high in carbohydrate. Again, this is particularly important if training is to be resumed the following day because low muscle-glycogen stores can impair subsequent training and performance.The current recommendation for replacing muscle glycogen and ensuring rapid recovery is to consume 1.5 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body mass within the first 30 minutes after exercise, and again every two hours for the next four to six hours. 

A postexercise meal containing both protein and carbohydrate has been shown to be more effective for rapidly replacing muscle glycogen than ingesting carbohydrate only.Researchers have shown benefits using a ratio of both three grams of carbohydrate to one gram of protein and four grams of carbohydrate to one gram of protein, but there is probably no magic to these ratios.Because hard exercise and competition often suppress your appetite—particularly during running events—it may be easier to consume a carbohydrate- and protein-containing beverage or snack immediately after exercise and then eat a mixed meal providing carbohydrate, protein, and fat a few hours later. 

This regimen allows you to begin replenishing muscle-glycogen stores while you shower,travel home, or find a restaurant for a post competition meal.Efforts to consume a mixed meal that provides a high-quality source of plant or dairy protein, such as soy, other legumes, eggs, or milk, are probably sufficient for most vegetarian athletes. Consuming high-quality protein along with carbohydrate after endurance or resistance training supplies the needed amino acids to stimulate muscle-protein synthesis. Research has also found that consuming protein along with carbohydrate after endurance or resistance training stimulates the building and repair of muscle and other tissue

Athletes who are trying to gain muscle should pay particular attention to their post exercise protein intake. As a final point, including fat in a recovery meal may also be important for replacing muscle fat stores following high-volume endurance training.So there you have it! Consuming the right food and fluid before, during, and after exercise has great potential to improve—or at least optimize—your training and performance. In fact, prioritizing nutrition at these times has the potential to greatly affect your performance to a greater degree than any currently known dietary supplement or ergogenic aid.

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