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Four Common Nutrition Myths Among Athletes
Because of the increased strain an athletes body is put under, it makes sense that athletes would have heightened nutritional needs when compared to an individual who leads a less active and less demanding life. Athletes should pay attention to their increased nutritional needs and demands, however, athletes should also be aware that there is a lot of bad information out there on what's good and bad for an athlete. Here are some of the most common nutrition myths that athletes should look out for.
"The thinner, the better."
Carrying extra body fat isn't very healthy for anyone, and athletes may feel inclined to work on decreasing their body fat percentage, however, they shouldn't lower their body fat percentage too much. Men shouldn't go below 5% and women shouldn't drop below 12% for body fat. Body fat percentage readings aren't highly accurate and can be off by up to 3% in either direction. Athletes who have too little body fat could suffer adverse health issues as a result. Just remember, not all fat is bad.
"The more protein you eat, the more muscle you'll build"
Although protein is important for the building and repairing of muscles, it isn't the only thing an athlete needs to build strength. Instead of just increasing protein consumption, athletes should try to have protein snacks around their workouts to help provide the body with the substances it needs to build and repair the muscles that are being exercised.
"Your body will let you know when you need water"
Contrary to popular belief, the human body only begins to exhibit signs of thirst after dehydration has already begun. Typically, an athlete won't become thirsty until he or she has already lost 2% of his or her body weight to sweating. This loss of fluid can negatively impact an athlete's performance and can lead to serious health concerns. Athletes should make sure to consume plenty of fluids before, during and after physical activity in order to prevent dehydration and promote performance.
"Athletes need supplements to perform their best"
Although there are countless dietary supplements available to and marketed toward athletes, there is little scientific evidence proving that any given supplement will boost an athlete's performance. Supplementation, although unlikely to hurt an athlete, is not necessary for an athlete to perform well. In fact, many of the best athletes don't use any type of supplements.
*Samantha Van Vleet is a former high school athlete. She is a biology major at UAA and has a special interest in the areas of health and nutrition as they relate to sports.
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