Protein consists of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen molecules. They’re broken apart during the digestive process into amino acids. The body then regroups these amino acids through a process known as protein synthesis. Some of these protein molecules are essential for creating enzymes that activate specific chemical reactions and processes in your body. Structural proteins are used in the cells to give body parts their shape. For an athlete, these proteins’ role in building muscle is important. There’s also regulatory proteins that help create new cells to replace old cells. The immune system depends on defensive proteins. The body uses proteins for energy if glucose from carbohydrates runs low by pulling amino acids from the muscles and converting them into glucose. One gram of protein provides four calories. Protein rich foods include soy based products, meats, beans, nuts, eggs and seeds.
Triglycerides are the fat we get from food. Only triglycerides provide energy with nine calories being found in one gram of fat. Triglycerides are important for athletes who are involved in low to moderate intensity activities. Healthy unsaturated fats are essential for cell membrane structure, hormone production, nerve function, the absorption of essential fat soluble vitamins and energy. Unsaturated fat also creates body fat that provides a protective layer that shields organs and insulates the body against extreme temperatures. Unsaturated fats are found in vegetable oils, some fish, nuts, seeds, olives and avocados.
Water is at least 60% of your total body weight and is abundant in your blood, urine, sweat and cells. Without water, you become dehydrated. It is responsible for regulating your body temperature. Without enough water, your body can’t break down, process, and transport nutrients. Also, the body wouldn’t be able to transport oxygen, vitamins, or minerals. Mild dehydration impairs an athlete’s performance and severe dehydration can result in death. The recommendations for a moderately active, healthy person is at least 64 ounces, around 2 liters, of water per day– or eight 8 ounce glasses.
Source: Shryer, Donna. Peak Performance: Sports Nutrition. New York: Marshall Cavendish Benchmark, 2008. Print.