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Juventus and Portugal talisman Cristiano Ronaldo is known for being one of the physically fittest football players in the world. [Photo: Courtesy]

Just like a car uses fuel to move, the human body also needs the right type of food and amount to build and grow.

Nutrition is key for athletes and means the difference between a win and a loss, the ability to endure and push as hard as possible, resistance to diseases and ability to heal from injuries.

Athletes’ bodies are put through extreme physical demands every day, during practice, workouts, and games.

Diet makes a huge difference in performance. What players choose to fuel their bodies matters-for their playing, their health, and their future in sports.

In addition to eating healthy food, they need to have the knowledge and investment in taking care of themselves to stay at the top of their game.

Athletes need more calories than the average person – anywhere from between 2000-5000 per day.

Athletes can improve their performance with better nutrition, and education about body, and how to keep it in top shape.

For an athlete, good nutrition and eating habits means extended time in the sporting venture and avoiding long term health problems.

Often considered the best player in the world and widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, Barcelona and Argentina talisman Lionel Messi has won a record six Ballon d’Or awards, and a record six European Golden Shoes. [Photo: Courtesy]

What does it mean to eat healthy for an athlete?

Generally speaking, an athlete’s diet should be similar to that recommended for the general public, with the energy intake divided into three; Carbohydrates taking more than half the share, protein just about 12% and less than 30% fats.

The reasons for these are that during exercise, carbohydrates are broken down in the body and stored as sugar.

This is helpful when one is doing an activity that requires endurance. Carbohydrates are also essential for the recovery of an athlete.

It is also important to note that when carbohydrates in the body are limited, they affect the protein base used for muscle building.

What about proteins? 

Proteins are a very important component of an athlete’s diet. They essentially help in building and recovery and therefore should be taken in proportions after the carbohydrates.

Nutritionists have preferred the cereal sources of proteins with the argument that they contain both carbohydrates and proteins.

However, the amount of proteins recommended for sportspersons is a bit higher than that of the general public.

Fat intake

Athletes need to have these in their diet. However, studies show that it is better to get fats from natural sources such as olive oils, avocado nuts and seeds as opposed to fried foods, biscuits cakes and pastries.

Water 

Water is the other essential element in an…

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