Summertime Nutrition for Athletes

Wellness and nutrition plans take the spotlight during summer months. Not only do vacationers want to look their best wearing fewer layers of clothing, athletes and participants of outdoor activities need to take extra precautions to prevent dehydration and other heat-related illnesses. A wellness nutrition coach or sports fitness specialist can help you make nutritional adjustments for proper health and sports performance in the summertime.

The summer heat can sometimes sneak up on you while you are exercising outdoors. You feel fine until you suddenly don’t. You might have forgotten to stay on top of your fluids and could experience the early stages of dehydration. You might have eaten a meal that was too heavy and the effect of the heat is preventing proper digestion causing lower intestinal issues. The heat will also raise your heart rate, making running or other endurance activities harder and more stressful on the body. There are things that you can do to help your body stay balanced, hydrated, and healthy during your summer month workouts.

Hydration is one of the most important things to remember to adjust during your summertime nutrition plan. Staying hydrated and taking in extra fluids can help prevent mineral loss and electrolyte imbalances. Hydration does not have to come in the form of water to be effective. In addition to adjusting your fluids to support your physical activity, adding more fruits and vegetables into your diet is a practical way to get extra fluids into your body. Fruits like grapes and melons have a high water content and can help prevent dehydration. Try swapping your snacks with fresh fruit over the summer or blend fruit into a freezable mold for a chilled summer treat that is healthy and full of hydration. 

Sports drinks can also be poured into freezable molds for a refreshing and satisfying reward after an outdoor workout that also replenishes lost electrolytes. Try not to eat heavy meals before outdoor activities. Eat foods that are easy on your gut and easily digestible so the heat will not cause cramping.  A piece of toast or half a bagel is all you need before an early morning workout to help regulate blood sugar and provide energy. 

Runners and other endurance athletes will have a spike in their heart rates due to the heat. If you train using heart rate zones, be sure to slow your pace down about 30 seconds per mile for every five degree increment over 75 degrees. For example, if you normally run a ten minute mile in ideal conditions, and the temperature is 80 degrees outside, you will need to slow your pace down to a 10:30 minute per mile pace. The effort level will feel exactly the same, but you’ll be able to allow for body temperature regulations from the heat. Without that modification to your pace, your heart rate could spike up too high and you could increase the risk for heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Certifications in nutrition can help you learn about how to adjust your nutrition and fitness during the warmer summer months.  

Are you interested in the roles nutrition and food play in overall health? A fitness career with sports nutrition certification will enable you to give life-changing advice to others who wish to improve their health and wellness. Click below to learn more about ASFA’s Advanced Sports Nutrition Certification!



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