How athletes fuel their bodies to peak performance

Published: Sep. 27, 2016 at 8:21 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 27, 2016 at 8:26 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Fueling your body with the right foods and drinks can peak your performance on the field.

As football and soccer players ramp up their season, our Roslyn Giles has more on healthy eating for athletes.

When athletes hit the field, everyone wants to do their best. Sometimes, health issues can block an athlete from reaching his or her potential while competing.

"Athletes just like everybody else have to proportion their intake of carbohydrates, protein and fat," said Dr. Eunice Ampiaw.

Dr. Ampiaw, a family medicine physician with 20 years of experience with the last eight of those years practicing  at St. Francis Columbus Clinic, says one thing players can do is what she calls  "carb load."

"It's basically more carbs than they would probably normally eat if they weren't exercising and being so active, so their bodies can store that sugar as a chemical called glycogen in the body," Dr. Ampiaw said.

That glycogen can convert to glucose, a fuel the body can use.

But as a guide for healthy eating, Dr. Ampiaw uses a plate method to demonstrate portion control.

"Half of your plate really should be your fruits and vegetables, a quarter, really the size of your palm, should be carbohydrates then a quarter should be protein," Dr. Ampiaw said.  

When it comes to drinks to keep the body hydrated, Dr. Ampiaw recommends plenty of water and choosing sports drinks with less sugar, maybe even diluting them with half water half drink.

She also says to remember caffeine is a diuretic and takes water away from the body.

Protein is also very important for athletes, as It helps them build muscles. However, Dr. Ampiaw says too much protein can damage your kidneys.

On average, most of us should get about 1.2 to 1.4 milligrams of protein per kilogram a day – that amount can increase depending on how vigorous the activity is.

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