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Eat, drink and play well


here are two basic nutritional variables that can help an athletic performance: proper foods and adequate fluids. What are the proper foods? The food pyramid at, designed by the U.S. Department of Agricultural offers a general guide. The USDA Dietary Guidelines describe a healthy diet as one that: ■ Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fatfree or low-fat milk and milk products; ■ Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts; and ■ Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars. Foods provide energy to the body and account for growth and repair. Broken down, foods are carbohydrate, protein, and fat. On a daily basis, fifty-five to sixty percent of total calories should come from carbohydrates (breads, cereals, fruits, and vegetables). Fifteen to twenty percent should come from proteins (meats, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products). Twenty-five to thirty percent should come from fats (meats, butter, oils, and sweets). It’s okay to eat small meals three to six times a day rather than large meals less often. Skipping meals compromises performance. Just being well fed is not enough; top performers are also well-hydrated. As little as a 2 percent loss of body weight (three pounds for a 150-pound athlete) from the evaporation of sweat can decrease coordination, strength, endurance, and concentration. When dehydrated, an athlete is susceptible to cramping, fatigue, and heat illness. When re-hydrating, sports drinks are not better than water. They are only needed when exercising in extreme heat or humidity, or when the work lasts longer than one-anda‑half hours. As a rule it’s better to drink before thirst occurs, because thirst is a poor indicator of fluid needs. Thirst is an indicator of dehydration. Alcohol, caffeine, and sugar all contribute to dehydration of the body and should be avoided before workouts. Before, during, and after exercise, remember to drink adequate fluid. ✪

Health Watch Bruce Valentine

Bruce Valentine is a physical therapist assistant for the Sports Medicine For Young Athletes center in Walnut Creek. The center is working in conjunction with its parent company, Children’s Hospital, to host a conference titled Hot Topics in Sports Medicine for the Coach and Young Athlete. To register or get more information, call (510)-428-3558, ext: 3. In the meantime, if you have questions or comments regarding the “Health Watch” column, write the Sports Medicine For Young Athletes staff at 26


July 8, 2010

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Issue 3, 07.08.2010