How to Eat for Top Performance

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As an athlete, you must perform at your peak every single day. To reach optimal performance, your fuels sources must be top quality. You also have different nutritional needs. Your daily nutrition must support all of the energy that your body gives out. Consuming the right type of nutrients at the right time can make or break performance and energy. Whether you participate in recreational exercise, an endurance sport, or in building lean body mass, the correct timing of nutrient intake can increase your stamina and help you obtain faster results.


Athletes have created anecdotes which lead them to showcase bizarre dietary habits as they keep looking for the competitive edge. Athletes are presumed by many to be the epitome of physical health and  their nutritional status is presumed to be superior to the non-athletic population. Smart sports nutrition has a goal of decreasing injuries, increasing reaction time, enhancing muscle power, boosting strength and endurance, increasing concentration and, of course, increasing enjoyment. Food is the fuel to help obtain this goal. The current dietary recommendations for athletes are similar to the recommendations for the general population.

Metabolism, in scientific terms, is the sum of the chemical reactions in the cells of our bodies that maintain life. When we say metabolism, we often mean metabolic rate which can be quantified as "calories burned" or "energy expended."

Understanding metabolism and having a sense of your own metabolic needs can help you find an approach to performance. Improved performance is based on the number of muscle fibers contracted at one time. Greater energy output equates with greater performance. The amount and type of energy transferred from food will tell the muscle how much to contract. When we ask our bodies to do more work, we are essentially asking it to increase its metabolism. The demand for energy causes the body to break down energy stores in the form of carbohydrates and fat.


Fat is an adequate energy source in the body. It is the preferred fuel for lower intensity level activities such as sleeping and eating, but it is also used for endurance activities such as marathons or long-distance cycling. Well-trained muscles are optimum fat burners; untrained muscles rely on glycogen. Greater glycogen use results in quick fatigue.

Using fats for energy spares glycogen, therefore increasing an athlete's stamina. Cells begin to utilize fat approximately 20 minutes into a workout.

Carbohydrates are the preferred energy source for all activities in the body. Having adequate carbohydrate stores allows for greater blood sugar regulation preventing early exercise fatigue. Exhaustion is reached quickly if an athlete is following a low carbohydrate diet (<5 percent carb intake). Therefore, the type of activity that an athlete is performing can determine the percentage of carbohydrate intake daily.