Nutrition plays a key role in improving athletic performance. You cannot expect to make any sustained progress in sports if you are not eating the right quality and quantity of food.

Here are a few tips on sports nutrition for athletes, weekend warriors, and people interested in fueling a healthy and active lifestyle:

Protein: Considered one of the essential building blocks of life, protein is necessary for repair and rebuilding muscle tissue. The daily requirement of protein ranges between 1.2 and 1.8 grams per kg per day. If you wish concentrate on strength training, try to remain within the high end of this range.

Carbohydrates: Your body efficiently converts carbohydrates into energy. Athletes should consume 1 to 4 grams/kg of body-weight of carbohydrates about 1-4 hours before a game. Endurance athletes may require a higher amount (7 to 10 g/kg/day) of carbohydrates. Try to consume slow-burning carbs such as whole grains or sweet potatoes rather than processed foods.

Fats: Athletes should get 20-35% of their total calories from fats. Apart from being a good source of energy, fats are needed for the absorption of several vitamins essential to body. Good fats can be obtained from almonds, peanut butter, avocados, and olive oil.

Eat smaller, but more frequent meals: Eating small amounts of nutritionally-balanced foods will help keep your metabolism high so your energy levels are always up and you burn more fat.

During activity: If the game or physical activity lasts longer than an hour, you should focus on replenishing electrolytes and glucose. This can be done during short breaks from the game. Sports drinks that contain carbohydrates, electrolytes, and fluids are a good idea for endurance athletes.

Eating after the game: During the first 15-30 minutes immediately after strenuous physical activity concentrate on consuming fasting-acting carbohydrates and protein at a ratio of 4:1 to aid in recovery. This could be in the form of a low-fat chocolate milk or protein shake.

Hydration: The importance of staying well hydrated cannot be over-stressed. Try to consume 16 ounces of water 2 hours before a game and drink some water every 15-20 minutes while playing to prevent dehydration.

These guidelines will help keep optimize your energy and strength levels enabling peak performance in sport.