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sports for wholesome health..

tips to a good health

Health and Fitness is now one of the major concern areas across the world. Easy lifestyle is what we are moving towards. Very less of effort spent on most activities like, travel by motor vehicles, air-conditioned environment, ready-made food stuff, etc. Earlier humans used to hunt for their living, due to which their body had to undergo a lot of physical exercise. Every part of the body was exercised and the intake was more of natural substances. Today, we hardly do any of those. Even a simple 30 mins per day of workouts and one good nutritious meal a day can help improve our health. This easy life has restricted humans to do that bit of physical exercise which is required to keep the body fit and healthy. How do we ensure that we have all that is required for a healthy living? This is a big question among everyone. We need a fit and healthy body. Good Health is all that one craves for. Becoming healthier and fitter though not very difficult needs dedicated efforts.

Nutrition and health diet

The basic foundation for a healthy individual starts from his foetal stage with proper and healthy nutrition derived from his or her mother. Hence, a pregnant woman's diet stands atop all diets.

Your food shall be your medicine. Ayurveda has postulated the role of food and especially nutritive foods
for maintaining health as well as cure of diseases. Nutrients are necessary for the proper functioning of mental, physical, metabolic, chemical and hormonal activities. The body is like a machine that will repair and rebuild itself if proper nutrition is provided by way of food. Sumptous nutrition is available in fruits and vegetables. Fruits have the capacity to give all that a body needs. How to consume? What to consume? Which fruit helps in which way? The answers to these questions can be found in our Nutrition and Healthy Diet Section

Exercise and Fitness

Simple fitness exercises can help to have a fitter and healthy life. Stretching exercises can help in many ways in mainting a fitter body. Weight loss can be achieved by following simple effortless regular exercises. Medical breakthroughs can happen by regular meditation and exercising. Yoga and other workouts which can be performed easily are available in this website to keep you fit and healthy. Health and Fitness can make all that difference in one's life. Healthy living is all that one needs, and to achieve that we picked up the best of the articles from reliable sources and have presented here in an organized manner. You might not be able to spend your valuable time on complicated medications and diet controls, but, you can find articles to help you have a better living using simple and easy technics. Ayurveda, a science in vogue practiced since centuries, uses a wide variety of plants, animal origin substances, mineral and metallic substances to rebalance the diseased condition in the sick. A few tips on simple treatment of life style diseases have been carefully picked for the visitors of this website. These tips can help reduce or control diseases like diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure, etc.

A garlic a day: Garlic is the mother of all cures. Researchers in Liverpool have found that 5ml of garlic extract lower levels of a disease-causing chemical by up to 48 per cent. Eat wholegrain foods: Make sure you have whole-grain bread, rice or pasta at least four times a week and you will reduce the chance of having cancer by 40 per cent.

Take care of your skin: Always wear sun-screen lotion during summers. It is advisable to use winter care creams to overcome the harsh and cold winds. The best cure is to smile through and your skin will shine with an extra dash. It's no big secret! Buy Facial Sauna Eat plenty of fish: Fish is the recommended diet for a longer healthier life. Studies have found that those who regularly ate fish were up to one-third less likely to get heart diesease than those who ate it less than once a month. Try Tea: Tea is always good. Being a heavy tea-drinker can never have nagative effects. The protective effects of tea increase with the amount drunk, and people who are regular tea drinkers are the least likely to die of a heart attack. Stop smoking: Do not smoke your health away. Nicotine pathces, gums or inhalers might work for some individuals, or other methods, from hypnosis to acupuncture. More you are to smoke, more likely your are to develop cancer or heart disease. Walk for Health: There is nothing better than walking. Walking a mile everyday, or taking reasonable exercise three times a week, promises to reduce the risk of heart disease, as well as strengthens bones and keeps them strong. Buy a blood pressure instrument to monitor your B.P. before and after the walk. Never sleep over a backache: It is never advisable to sleep over a backache. Research shows that people who take to their beds with backache take the longest time to recover. Those who avoid bed-rest and continue normal activities as much as possible have less pain. Water spells health: Water flushes out the toxins. A good amount of liquid intake helps the entire system and of course is best for curing skin ailments. The average man needs 2.9 litres, or about 12 cups of water, a day and woman needs about 2.2 litres. Stop bad breath: You can prevent that unfriendly odour. It is caused by oral bacteria. A toungue scraper may help, but dental care may be needed. Mouth rinses are effective, as are flossing and brushing teeth twice a day. Slow down on the junk: Research shows that eating too many high-fat-food contributes to high blood-cholestrol levels, which can cause hardening of the arteries, coronory heart disease and stroke. Cut back on salt: Health Organisation recommend no more than five grams a day. Too much salt can lead to stroke and heart problems.

Drink wine: Research suggests that the equivalent of a couple of glasses of wine a day may be good for health. It can also help you keep a good mental frame.

Spouse can matter: A man in poor health in his 50s is six times more likely to be affected if married to a woman who is also in poor health.

Eat right for better teeth: Your pearly whites can gleam. Eat apples, oranges, celery, carrots and high fiber green.

Make love: There is no better medicine than to have sex. people who have sex at least twice a week get protective boost from their immune systems. Of course it relaxes the mind. Crash diets don't work: The so called new-age diets do not add to health prospects. There is no easy way to lose weight so the best way is to do it over a period of time.

Coffee is good: Researchers have found that two to four cups of coffee daily can lower the risk of colon cancer by 25 per cent.

Being overweight is dangerous: Loose the extra kilos. Over weight people cut 20 weeks of their life for every excess kilogram, according to new research. Keeping a personal weight machine at home really helps. Buy one now! Supplement with selenium: Research has shown that people who took a daily supplement of selenium had a 37 per cent reduction in cancers.

Lower you cholesterol: Work on reducing your cholestrol. This can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke even when your level is not high. Exercise to reduce weight.

Asprin is a wonder drug: Asprin can actually do wonders. It helps to reduce the risk of conditions such as heart disease and cancers, including of the colon, oesophagus, stomach, rectum, prostrate. cent. Change your job: If the workplace is what bothers you. Simply quit! Consider becoming a salesperson. Salespeople are least likely to have a work-related illness.

Socialising is good: Meeting friends and relatives is recommended. Weekly socialising improves the memory, concentration and problem solving skills.

Learn to relax: Unwind, take up a hobby and start socialising. This fights stress and depression.

Fruits and vegetables help: Have at least five portions of vegetables and fruit a day, especially tomatoes, red grapes.

Sing to stay healthy: Singing is good for the mind and body. it is relaxing, improves breathing and muscle tone.

Vitamins are vital: A multivit a day keeps the tablet away, but be sure it contains at least 200 meg of folic acid.

Sleep well: There is nothing like a good sleep. Sleep primes the immune system. Most people need between seven and nine hours of sleep a night.

Or just hum...: Humming helps. Daily humming is a good way to increase ventilation in the sinuses.

Should I take extra supplements when I'm playing sport? There are many different supplements on the market. Some of them are based on solid research, and others aren't. Athletes need to consider supplements with extreme caution. In the past, some supplements were found to have been contaminated with banned substances. First, ensure that you have a balanced, healthy diet that suits your sport. Consult a registered dietitian or nutritionist with expertise in sports nutrition. They can assess this and advise you on particular supplements. You can find these experts on the register of sport and exercise nutritionists at the Sport and Exercise Nutrition Register or viaSports Dietitians UK.

Eat a Balanced Diet Each Day

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To exercise consistently, you need to provide a good supply of high-quality energy to your working muscles. The easiest way to to this is to eat a balanced breakfast and continue eating a variety of high-quality foods throughout the day.

Carbohydrate in the form of glycogen is the fuel that makes exercise possible, so adequate carbs must be eaten each day if you hope to train consistently. Protein and fat also have a place in your diet and should be consumed daily. In general, each meal should contain a varied combination of carbohydrates, protein and fat. If you aren't sure if you are getting the proper nutrients in your daily diet, check out Calorie Count to create a profile and analyze your diet.

Several Hours Before You Workout

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The pre-exercise meal will vary depending upon your exercise style. If you workout in the evening, lunch should include easily digestible foods high in complex carbohydrates, such as pasta, breads, fruits and vegetables. A big salad with a small amount of protein works well. Select a small amount of lean meat such as chicken or fish, and experiment with what works best for you. If you exercise first thing in the morning, you'll probably feel best if you eat a light breakfast of fruit, toast, or an egg. Again, everyone is different, so experiment with what works best for you. Regardless of what you choice to eat, you should drink plenty of water before and during a morning workout.

Thirty Minutes Before You Workout

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Depending upon the type and duration of workout you do, you'll want to eat a small snack and drink some water a half hour before you get going. Trail mix is great for aerobic workouts over 60 or 90 minutes, but if you are going hard for thirty minutes, you probably only need a half of an energy or granola bar, a large banana, a few graham crackers, fig bars, or pretzels. For a shorter workout, you may not want to eat anything at all, but can get a few calories from drinking about 8-10 ounces of a sport drink.

You should also start drinking water before your workout so you've consumed about 6-12 ounces in the the hour before your workout.

During Your Workout

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Proper hydration during exercise will vary based on your exercise intensity and duration and even the weather. In order to simplify the recommendations, a good starting point is to drink 8-10 fl oz of water every 15 min during exercise. If exercising longer than 90 minutes, drink 8-10 fl oz of a sports drink every 15 - 30 minutes. Exercising for more than about 90 minutes usually requires that you replenish lost carbohydrates.

If your workout is less than an hour, odds are you don't need to consume anything extra.

Hydration After Your Workout

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After your workout, the general rule is simple: drink enough water to replace water lost through sweat. The best way to determine this is by weighing yourself before and after exercise. For every pound of body weight lost, you'll need to consume about 3 cups of fluid.

Another way to determine how much liquid to consume is to check the color of your urine. Dark, concentrated urine may indicate dehydration. Your urine should be relatively clear in color. Eating After Your Workout Your post-exercise meal needs to be consumed within two hours after a long or intense workout in order to replenish glycogen stores. Research shows that getting 100-200 grams of carbohydrate within two hours of endurance exercise helps you replenish adequate glycogen stores, but adding a combination of carbohydrate and protein seems to be an even better option. Studies have found that a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein seems to the ideal combination of nutrition. And although solid foods can work just as well as a sports drink, a drink may be easier to digest make it easier to get the right ratio and meet the 2-hour window.

Many athletes believe they need a high protein diet to fuel their muscles. Most research, however, doesn't support the idea that athletes require massive amounts of protein in their diets. The popularity of high protein diets goes beyond athletes to those looking for fas eight loss. High protein diets that exclude carbohydrate and cut calories often show a large initial eight loss due to the water loss that occurs with muscle glycogen depletion. If you perform high intensity or endurance training you probably know that glycogen depletion is one of the reasons athletes 'bonk' or 'hit the wall' in endurance competition. Without enough easy to access energy, in the form of glycogen, we simply run out of fuel. Glycogen is the stored energy in muscle, and it helps muscles retain water. This combination is critical for high intensity athletic performance. Depleting these energy stores is hardly something that will improve athletic performance. For a more details about the nutrient needs and the best fuel for endurance exercise, read Eating for Exercise. Protein and Strength Athletes While endurance athletes are easy to convince of the need for a high carbohydrate, low fat diet, strength athletes are a bit harder to convince of the need for adequate carbs and moderate protein. Strength athletes have long adhered to high protein diets in order to build muscle. This idea of high protein = more muscle is a bit overstated.

According to the research of sports nutritionists, strength athletes require high carbohydrate and adequate glycogen stored in the muscle. They point out that all high intensity, powerful muscle contractions (such as weight lifting) are fueled with carbohydrate. Neither fat nor protein can be oxidized rapidly enough to meet the demands of high-intensity exercise. Adequate dietary carbohydrate must be consumed on a daily basis to restore glycogen levels. In fact, research shows that high protein/high fat diets can hurt performance. An inadequate amount of carbohydrate in the diet can result in:

Reduced muscle glycogen stores in the muscle and liver Decreased endurance Decreased maximal effort Decreased serum glucose levels Increased risk of hypoglycemia

High protein/high fat diets can also have a negative overall impact on health, including the following:

Increased risk of certain cancers Increased calcium excretion and increased risk of osteoporosis Reduced intake of vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals

But Don't Strength Athletes Need More Protein To Build Muscle? Research hasn't shown this. In fact most strength athletes get far more protein than is necessary to promote muscle synthesis. The current protein recommendations for optimal muscle building in a strength athlete is 1.6 - 1.7 gm protein per kg of body weight. For a athlete weighing 90 kg (200 pounds) that is a total of 145 - 154 grams of protein a day [about 3 small chicken breasts]. There is no scientific evidence that more than 2.0 grams of protein per kg of body weight has any additional benefit in muscle strength or size. How Much Protein is That? Not much, as it turns out. Here is a list of some high protein foods. Food, Amount, Protein Fish, 3 oz, 21 grams Chicken, 3 oz, 21 grams Turkey, 3 oz, 21 grams Beef, 3 oz, 21 grams Milk, 8 oz, 8 grams Tofu, 3 oz, 15 grams Yogurt, 8 oz, 8 grams Cheese, 3 oz, 21 grams Peanut butter, 2 tbsp, 8 grams Eggs, 2 large, 13 grams

So What Should an Athlete Eat? The recommendations of sports nutritionists continues to show performance enhancing benefits. These general guidelines are:

12-15% of daily calories from protein. 25-30% of daily calories from fat. 55-65% of daily calories from carbohydrate. An athlete's nutrition plan should be individualized to meet the needs of training and competition. Carbohydrates are the primary fuel for intense muscular efforts, and should be the cornerstone of an athlete's diet, regardless of the sport they play.

Nutrition Tips for Vegetarian Athletes

How vegetarian athletes can get enough protein and iron in their diet
If you are a vegetarian athlete and dont eat meat, it can take a bit more planning to get adequate protein for muscle building and sports training. Vegetarians must take extra care to avoid deficiencies of iron, zinc, and B12, which can hurt exercise and strength training performance. The following tips will help vegetarians who want to get the most from strength training programs. How to Get Adequate Protein in Your Diet The current protein recommendations for optimal muscle building in a strength athlete is 1.6 to 1.7 gram protein per kilogram of body weight (0.73 grams per pound). For a 200-pound athlete, that is a total of 145 to 154 grams of protein a day. There is no scientific evidence that more than 2.0 grams of protein per kg of body weight has any additional benefit in muscle strength or size. You can get enough protein by including plenty of low-fat dairy products and protein-rich plant sources, like soy, in your diet. The following protein sources may work for vegetarians:

Milk, 8 oz, 8 grams Tofu, 3 oz, 15 grams Yogurt, 8 oz, 8 grams Cheese, 3 oz, 21 grams Peanut butter, 2 tbsp, 8 grams

How to Get Adequate Iron in Your Diet Heme iron is a type of easily absorbed iron that is found in animal protein. If you eat fish or chicken, you will get this type of iron, but if you eat no meat, you will need to find other sources of iron. Our bodies don't absorb non-heme iron - the kind found in vegetables - as easily as the iron that comes from animal foods. Non-meat eaters, especially female athletes, must pay attention to their dietary iron needs. Good sources of non-heme include wholegrain cereals, leafy green vegetables, figs, lentils and kidney beans, and some dried fruits.

How to Get Adequate Vitamin C in Your Diet Vitamin C in fruits, vegetables, and other foods help vegetarians absorb non-heme iron from other foods, so its a good idea to eat a combination of foods at each meal. Consider eating citrus fruits with an iron-fortified wholegrain cereal or have a citrus fruit juice with beans. How to Get Adequate B12 Because vitamin B12 is available only from animal products, it is one of the most common nutrients missing from the diets of vegetarian athletes. To get enough B12 (you require only a small amount2.4 micrograms-per day) try to eat B12-fortified foods like soymilk, and cereal. You can also get enough B12 if you consume eggs, cheese, milk or yogurt. Avoid Foods That Interfere with Iron Absorption Some foods contain substances that block the absorption of iron in the intestine. Coffee, whole grains, bran, legumes, and spinach all interfere with iron absorption and should be combined with vitamin C to increase iron absorption. Talk To Your Doctor About Supplements Although dietary supplements should not be used to make up for a poor diet, there are times when they can help prevent some deficiencies. Ideally, you should discuss the use of any supplements with your healthcare team. All athletes are encouraged to eat a balanced diet that includes a wide variety of foods, but vegetarian athletes can rest assured that they dont have to eat meat in order to get adequate nutrition for strength building. If you have concerns about your nutritional status, is is recommended that you talk with your doctor or a registered sports nutritionist to review you eating plan and make recommendations.

Nutrition and Athletic Performance

Professional Position Statements
For athletes nutrition and supplement use is a common way to augment a steady training program. Arguments have gone on for years about the best diet for optimal athletic performance. Those arguments will probably continue for years as well. The following position paper may help you make well informed decisions about what to eat and drink. The following position stand was published in the Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research in the Winter of 2000. Nutrition and Athletic Performance: Position of Dietitians of Canada, the American Dietetic Association, and the American College of Sports Medicine.

It is the position of Dietitians of Canada, the American Dietetic Association, and the American College of Sports Medicine that physical activity, athletic performance, and recovery from exercise are enhanced by optimal nutrition. These organizations recommend appropriate selection of food and fluids, timing of intake, and supplement choices for optimal health and exercise performance. This position paper reviews the current scientific data related to athletes' energy needs, assessment of body composition, strategies for weight change, athletes' nutrient and fluid needs, special nutrient needs during training, the use of supplements and nutritional ergogenic aids, and nutrition recommendations for vegetarian athletes. During times of high physical activity, energy and macronutrient needs - especiallycarbohydrate and protein intake - must be met in order to maintain body weight, replenish glycogen stores, and provide adequate protein for building and repairing tissue. Fat intake should be adequate to provide essential fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins, as well as to help provide adequate energy for weight maintenance. Overall, diets should provide moderate amounts of energy from fat (20-25% of energy), there appears to be no health or performance benefit to consuming a diet containing less than 15% of energy from fat. Body weight and composition can affect exercise performance, but should not be used as the sole criterion for sports performance; daily weigh-ins are discouraged. Consuming adequate food and fluid before, during, and after exercise can help maintain blood glucose levels during exercise, maximize exercise performance, and improve recovery time. Athletes should be well hydrated before beginning exercise; they should also drink enough fluid during and after exercise to balance fluid losses. Consumption of sport drinks containing carbohydrates and electrolytes during exercise will provide fuel for the muscles, help maintain blood glucose levels and the thirst mechanism, and decrease the risk of dehydration or hyponatremia. Athletes will not need vitamin-and-mineral supplements if adequate energy to maintain body weight is consumed from a variety of foods. However, supplements may be required by athletes who restrict energy intake, have severe weight-loss practices, eliminate one or more food groups from their diet, or consume high-carbohydrate diets with low micronutrient density. Nutritional ergogenic aids should be used with caution, and only after careful evaluation of the product for safety, for efficacy, for potency, and to determine whether or not it is a banned or illegal substance. Nutrition advice, by a qualified nutrition expert, should be provided only after the athlete's health, diet, supplement and drug use, and energy requirements have been carefully reviewed.

Eat Extra for Excellence

There's a lot more to eating for sports than chowing down on carbs or chugging sports drinks. The good news is that eating to reach your peak performance level likely doesn't require a special diet or supplements. It's all about working the right foods into your fitness plan in the right amounts.

Teen athletes have unique nutrition needs. Because athletes work out more than their less-active peers, they generally need extra calories to fuel both their sports performance and their growth. Depending on how active they are, teen athletes may need anywhere from 2,000 to 5,000 total calories per day to meet their energy needs. So what happens if teen athletes don't eat enough? Their bodies are less likely to achieve peak performance and may even break down rather than build up muscles. Athletes who don't take in enough calories every day won't be as fast and as strong as they could be and may not be able to maintain their weight. And extreme calorie restriction could lead to growth problems and other serious health risks for both girls and guys.

Athletes and Dieting

Since teen athletes need extra fuel, it's usually a bad idea to diet. Athletes in sports where weight is emphasized such as wrestling, swimming, dance, or gymnastics might feel pressure to lose weight, but they need to weigh that choice with the possible negative side effects mentioned above.

If a coach, gym teacher, or teammate says that you need to go on a diet, talk to your doctor first or visit a dietitian who specializes in teen athletes. If a health professional you trust agrees that it's safe to diet, he or she can work with you to develop a plan that allows you get the proper amount of nutrients, perform your best, and lose weight.

Eat a Variety of Foods

You may have heard about "carb loading" before a game. But when it comes to powering your game for the long haul, it's a bad idea to focus on only one type of food.

Carbohydrates are an important source of fuel, but they're only one of many foods an athlete needs. It also takes vitamins, minerals, protein, and fats to stay in peak playing shape.

Muscular Minerals and Vital Vitamins

Calcium helps build the strong bones that athletes depend on, and iron carries oxygen to muscles. Most teens don't get enough of these minerals, and that's especially true of teen athletes because their needs may be even higher than those of other teens.

To get the iron you need, eat lean (not much fat) meat, fish, and poultry; green, leafy vegetables; and iron-fortified cereals. Calcium a must for protecting against stress fractures is found in dairy foods, such as low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese.

In addition to calcium and iron, you need a whole bunch of other vitamins and minerals that do everything from help you access energy to keep you from getting sick. Eating a balanced diet, including lots of different fruits and veggies, should provide the vitamins and minerals needed for good health and sports performance.

Protein Power
Athletes may need more protein than less-active teens, but most teen athletes get plenty of protein through regular eating. It's a myth that athletes need a huge daily intake of protein to build large, strong muscles. Muscle growth comes from regular training and hard work. And taking in too much protein can actually harm the body, causing dehydration, calcium loss, and even kidney problems.

Good sources of protein are fish, lean meats and poultry, eggs, dairy, nuts, soy, and peanut butter.

Carb Charge
Carbohydrates provide athletes with an excellent source of fuel. Cutting back on carbs or following low-carb diets isn't a good idea for athletes because restricting carbohydrates can cause a person to feel tired and worn out, which ultimately affects performance.

Good sources of carbohydrates include fruits, vegetables, and grains. Choose whole grains (such as brown rice, oatmeal, whole-wheat bread) more often than their more processed counterparts like white rice and white bread. That's because whole grains provide both the energy athletes need to perform and the fiber and other nutrients they need to be healthy.

Sugary carbs such as candy bars or sodas are less healthy for athletes because they don't contain any of the other nutrients you need. In addition, eating candy bars or other sugary snacks just before practice or competition can give athletes a quick burst of energy and then leave them to "crash" or run out of energy before they've finished working out.

Fat Fuel
Everyone needs a certain amount of fat each day, and this is particularly true for athletes. That's because active muscles quickly burn through carbs and need fats for long-lasting energy. Like carbs, not all fats are created equal. Experts advise athletes to concentrate on healthier fats, such as the unsaturated fat found in most vegetable oils.

Choosing when to eat fats is also important for athletes. Fatty foods can slow digestion, so it's a good idea to avoid eating these foods for a few hours before and after exercising.

Shun Supplements
Protein and energy bars don't do a whole lot of good, but they won't really do you much harm either. But other types ofsupplements can really do some damage. Anabolic steroids can seriously mess with a person's hormones, causing side effects like testicular shrinkage and baldness in guys and facial hair growth in girls. Steroids can cause mental health problems, including depression and serious mood swings. Some supplements contain hormones that are related to testosterone (such as dehydroepiandrosterone, or DHEA for short). These supplements can have similar side effects to anabolic steroids. Other sports supplements (like creatine, for example) have not been tested in people younger than 18. So the risks of taking them are not yet known.

Salt tablets are another supplement to watch out for. People take them to avoid dehydration, but salt tablets can actually lead to dehydration. In large amounts, salt can cause nausea, vomiting, cramps, and diarrhea and may damage the lining of the stomach. In general, you are better off drinking fluids in order to maintain hydration. Any salt you lose in sweat can usually be made up with sports drinks or food eaten after exercise.

Ditch Dehydration
Speaking of dehydration, water is just as important to unlocking your game power as food. When you sweat during exercise, it's easy to become overheated, headachy, and worn out especially in hot or humid weather. Even mild dehydration can affect an athlete's physical and mental performance.

There's no one-size-fits-all formula for how much water to drink. How much fluid each person needs depends on the individual's age, size, level of physical activity, and environmental temperature.

Experts recommend that athletes drink before and after exercise as well as every 15 to 20 minutes during exercise. Don't wait until you feel thirsty, because thirst is a sign that your body has needed liquids for a while. But don't force yourself to drink more fluids than you may need either. It's hard to run when there's a lot of water sloshing around in your stomach!

If you like the taste of sports drinks better than regular water, then it's OK to drink them. But it's important to know that a sports drink is really no better for you than water unless you are exercising for more than 60 to 90 minutes or in really hot weather. The additional carbohydrates and electrolytes may improve performance in these conditions, but otherwise your body will do just as well with water.

Avoid drinking carbonated drinks or juice because they could give you a stomachache while you're competing.

Caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it causes a person to urinate (pee) more. It's not clear whether this causes dehydration or not, but to be safe, it's wise to stay away from too much caffeine, especially if you'll be exercising in hot weather. Although some studies have found that caffeine may help with endurance sports performance, it's good to weigh any benefits against potential problems. Too much caffeine can leave an athlete feeling anxious or jittery. It can also cause trouble sleeping. All of these can drag down a person's sports performance. Plus, taking certain medications including supplements can make caffeine's side effects seem even worse.

Game-Day Eats

Your performance on game day will depend on the foods you've eaten over the past several days and weeks. But you can boost your performance even more by paying attention to the food you eat on game day. Strive for a game-day diet rich in carbohydrates, moderate in protein, and low in fat.

Here are some guidelines on what to eat and when:

Eat a meal 2 to 4 hours before the game or event:Choose a protein and carbohydrate meal (like a turkey or chicken sandwich, cereal and milk, chicken noodle soup and yogurt, or pasta with tomato sauce).

Eat a snack less than 2 hours before the game: If you haven't had time to have a pre-game meal, be sure to have a light snack such as low-fiber fruits or vegetables (like plums, melons, cherries, carrots), crackers, a bagel, or low-fat yogurt.

Consider not eating anything for the hour before you compete or have practice because digestion requires energy energy that you want to use to win. Also, eating too soon before any kind of activity can leave food in the stomach, making you feel full, bloated, crampy, and sick.

Everyone is different, so get to know what works best for you. You may want to experiment with meal timing and how much to eat on practice days so that you're better prepared for game day.

Dominic has baseball on the brain. Just being good isn't enough he wants to be the best. He dreams of playing in the majors someday, but worries about the intense competition for a position on

a major league team. His girlfriend, Deborah, is also a highly competitive athlete whose appearance and performance are very important to her. She wants to stand out both physically and athletically.

Because of the pressure they each feel to excel, Dominic and Deborah wonder whether steroids would help them. They've heard rumors about the bad side effects of steroids, but they don't have many facts. Here's the scoop on steroids.

What Are Steroids?

Steroids, sometimes referred to as roids, juice, hype, weight trainers, gym candy, arnolds, stackers, or pumpers, are the same as, or similar to, certain hormones in the body. The body produces steroids naturally to support such functions as fighting stress and promoting growth and development. But some people use steroid pills, gels, creams, or injections because they think steroids can improve their sports performance or the way they look. Anabolic steroids are artificially produced hormones that are the same as, or similar to, androgens, the male-type sex hormones in the body. There are more than 100 variations of anabolic steroids. The most powerful androgen is testosterone(pronounced: tess-toss-tuh-rone). Although testosterone is mainly a mature male hormone, girls' bodies produce smaller amounts. Testosterone promotes the masculine traits that guys develop during puberty, such as deepening of the voice and growth of body hair. Testosterone levels can also affect how aggressive a person is. Athletes sometimes take anabolic steroids because of their testosterone-like effects.

Another group of steroids, sometimes called steroidal supplements, contains dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and/or androstenedione (also known as andro). For the most part, steroidal supplements, which used to be found at health food stores or gyms, are now illegal and require a prescription. DHEA is one of the few exceptions and can still be bought over the counter. Steroid supplements are weaker forms of androgen. Their effects aren't well known, but it's thought that, when taken in large doses, they cause effects similar to other androgens like testosterone. Here's what is known about steroidal supplements: Companies that manufacture them often use false claims and very little is known about the long-term effects some of these substances have on the body. Thats one reason why the government took action to protect citizens by passing laws controlling steroid distribution.

So Many Sports, Only One You!

For some people, choosing which sports to pursue throughout high school is hard because they have never really played an organized sport before and aren't sure what they'll most enjoy. For others it's a tough decision because their friends don't like to play the same sports.

No matter what your sports dilemma is, you have to make the decision that is best for you. If you're great at soccer but would rather play football because you think it's more fun, then give the pigskin a go (just make sure it's cool with mom and dad)!

Sports are meant to be fun. If there is a sport you really enjoy but you aren't sure if you can make the team, try out anyway. What's the worst that can happen? If you get cut you can always try another sport. And sports like cross-country and track don't typically cut participants from the team. You can still participate even if you're not on the meet squad.

The Buzz on Energy Foods

Energy drinks and nutrition bars often make big promises. Some say they'll increase energy and alertness, others offer extra nutrition, and some even claim to boost your athletic performance or powers of concentration.

But once you cut through the hype and look past the flashy packaging on energy products, chances are what you're mostly getting is a stiff dose of sugar and caffeine.

So should you eat or drink these products? The occasional energy drink is probably OK, and a protein bar in the morning is a better choice than not getting any breakfast at all. But people who have about three or four energy drinks and a couple of protein bars every day are overdoing it.

Make Smart Choices

With so much going on in our lives, lots of people feel tired and run down. And many of us find ourselves skipping a meal sometimes. So it's not surprising that nutrition, protein, and energy drinks and food bars have flooded the market, offering the convenience of energy on the go.

Sometimes, this can be good news like for the person who has to skip breakfast. Food bars will never beat a well-balanced meal or snack when it comes to meeting our nutrition needs. But many of them do contain more nutrients than a candy bar or a bag of chips. But just because a product contains vitamins and minerals does not automatically mean it is good for you.

Know the Downsides

Here are some facts to keep in mind when it comes to food bars or energy drinks:

They contain excessive sugar and calories. Did you know that some energy bars and drinks contain hundreds of calories? That may be OK for athletes who burn lots of calories in high-intensity activities, like competitive cycling. But for many teens the extra sugar and calories just contribute to weight gain, not to mention tooth decay. Energy drinks are often full of caffeine. Caffeine may be legal, but it is a stimulant drug. It can cause side effects like jitteriness, upset stomach, headaches, and sleep problems all of which drag you down, not power you up! Large amounts of caffeine can have even more serious side effects (including fast or irregular heartbeats, high blood pressure, hallucinations, and seizures), especially for people who have certain medical conditions or who take medications or supplements. Energy drinks are not the same as sports drinks. They should not be used to rehydrate because they contain so much caffeine.

Food bars don't make good meal replacements. You never really see someone eat an energy bar for dinner and then sit back with a satisfied grin. Nothing beats a real meal for both that well-fed feeling and the nutritional satisfaction your body needs. Although many nutrition bars have vitamins and minerals added, they can't give you all the different nutrients your body needs to grow, develop, play sports, and handle all the other stuff on your schedule. The only way to get that is through eating a balanced diet and not skipping meals.

They may contain mysterious ingredients. In addition to caffeine and sugar, some brands of energy drinks and food bars can have ingredients whose safety and effectiveness haven't been tested things like guarana (a source of caffeine) and taurine (an amino acid thought to enhance caffeine's effect). Some contain herbal supplements that are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), such as ginseng. These kinds of ingredients may cause problems, especially for people who are taking certain medications or have a health condition. So play it safe. Always check the label carefully before you eat or drink any kind of energy supplement.

They're expensive. Though energy bars and drinks are everywhere these days, they don't come cheap. At about $3 a pop, you can get a better (and cheaper) energy boost by eating a whole-wheat bagel with cream cheese. And you can get better hydration by drinking 8 ounces of tap water. Other on-the-go foods that provide plenty of nutritional bang for the buck include trail mix, fresh or dried fruits, and whole-grain cereals.

Cutting Through the Hype

There's some clever marketing behind energy bars and drinks, and you've got to be a pretty savvy consumer to see through it. So be critical when reading labels. As with everything, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. These products aren't the healthy choices the advertising hype makes them out to be. The truth is, the best energy boost comes from healthy living. People who eat well, drink water, and get enough physical activity and sleep will have plenty of energy the natural way.

What Are Sports Supplements?

Sports supplements (also called ergogenic aids) are products used to enhance athletic performance that may include vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs, or botanicals (plants) or any concentration, extract, or combination of these. These products are generally available over the counter without a prescription.

Sports supplement are considered a dietary supplement. Dietary supplements do not require U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval before they come on the market. Supplement manufacturers do have to follow the FDA's current good manufacturing practices to ensure quality and safety of their product, though. And the FDA is responsible for taking action if a product is found to be unsafe after it has gone on the market.

Critics of the supplement industry point out cases where manufacturers haven't done a good job of following standards. They also mention instances where the FDA hasn't enforced regulations. Both of these can mean that supplements contain variable amounts of ingredients or even ingredients not listed on the label.

Some over-the-counter medicines and prescription medications, including anabolic steroids, are used to enhance performance but they are not considered supplements. Although medications are FDA approved, using medicines even over-the-counter ones in ways other than their intended purpose puts the user at risk of serious side effects. For example, teen athletes who use medications like human growth hormone (hGH) that haven't been prescribed for them may have problems with development and hormone levels. Lots of sports organizations have developed policies on sports supplements. The National Football League (NFL), the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have banned the use of steroids, ephedra, and androstenedione by their athletes, and competitors who use them face fines, ineligibility, and suspension from their sports.

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) strongly recommends that student athletes consult with their doctor before taking any supplement.

How Some Common Supplements Affect the Body

Whether you hear about sports supplements from your teammates in the locker room or the sales clerk at your local vitamin store, chances are you're not getting the whole story about how supplements work, if they are really effective, and the risks you take by using them. Androstenedione and DHEA Androstenedione (also known as andro) and dehydroepiandrosterone (also known as DHEA) are prohormones or "natural steroids" that can be broken down into testosterone. When researchers studied these prohormones in adult athletes, DHEA and andro did not increase muscle size, improve strength or enhance performance.

The side effects of these "natural" steroid supplements like DHEA and andro aren't well known. But experts believe that, when taken in large doses, they cause effects similar to stronger anabolic steroids.

What is known is that andro and DHEA can cause hormone imbalances in people who use them. Both may have the same effects as taking anabolic steroids and may lead to dangerous side effects like testicular cancer, infertility, stroke, and an increased risk of heart disease. As with anabolic steroids, teens who use andro while they are still growing may not reach their full adult height. Natural steroid supplements can also cause breast development and shrinking of testicles in guys. Creatine Creatine is already manufactured by the body in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. It also occurs naturally in foods such as meat and fish. Creatine supplements are available over the counter, and teens make up a large portion of the supplement's users.

People who take creatine usually take it to improve strength, but the long-term and short-term effects of creatine use haven't been studied in teens and kids. Research in adults found that creatine is most effective for athletes doing intermittent high-intensity exercise with short recovery intervals, such as sprinting and power lifting. However, researchers found no effect on athletic performance in nearly a third of athletes studied. Creatine has not been found to increase endurance or improve aerobic performance.

The most common side effects of creatine supplements include weight gain, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and muscle cramps. People with kidney problems should not use creatine because it may affect kidney function. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that people younger than 18 years old do not use creatine. If you are considering using creatine, talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits, as well as appropriate dosing. Fat burners Fat burners (sometimes known as thermogenics) were often made with an herb called ephedra, also known as ephedrine or ma huang, which acts as a stimulant and increases metabolism. Some athletes use fat burners to lose weight or to increase energy but ephedra-based products can be one of the most dangerous supplements. Evidence has shown that it can cause heart problems, stroke, and occasionally even death. Because athletes and others have died using this supplement, ephedra has been taken off the market. Since the ban, "ephedra-free" products have emerged, but they often contain ingredients with

ephedra-like properties, including bitter orange or country mallow. Similar to ephedra, these supplements can cause high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and seizures.

Many of these products also contain caffeine, along with other caffeine sources (such as yerba mate and guarana). This combination may lead to restlessness, anxiety, racing heart, irregular heart beat, and increases the chance of having a life-threatening side effect.

Will Supplements Make Me a Better Athlete?

Sports supplements haven't been tested on teens and kids. But studies on adults show that the claims of many supplements are weak at best. Most won't make you any stronger, and none will make you any faster or more skillful.

Many factors go into your abilities as an athlete including your diet, how much sleep you get, genetics and heredity, and your training program. But the fact is that using sports supplements may put you at risk for serious health conditions.

So instead of turning to supplements to improve your performance, concentrate on nutrition and follow a weight-training and aerobic-conditioning program.

Tips for Dealing With Athletic Pressure and Competition

Ads for sports supplements often use persuasive before and after pictures that make it look easy to get a muscular, toned body. But the goal of supplement advertisers is to make money by selling more supplements, and many claims may be misleading.

Teens and kids may seem like an easy sell on supplements because they may feel dissatisfied or uncomfortable with their still-developing bodies, and many supplement companies try to convince teens that supplements are an easy solution.

Don't waste your money on expensive and dangerous supplements. Instead, try these tips for getting better game:

Make downtime a priority. Studies show that teens need more than 8 hours of sleep a night, and sleep is important for athletes. Organize time for sleep into your schedule by doing as much homework as possible on the weekend or consider cutting back on after-school job hours during your sports season.

Learn to relax. Your school, work, and sports schedules may have you sprinting from one activity to the next, but taking a few minutes to relax can be helpful. Meditating or visualizing your success during the next game may improve your performance; sitting quietly and focusing on your breathing can give you a brief break and prepare you for your next activity.

Choose good eats. Fried, fatty, or sugary foods will interfere with your performance. Instead, focus on eating foods such as lean meats, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy products. Celebrating with the team at the local pizza place after a big game is fine once in a while. But for most meals and snacks, choose healthy foods to keep your weight in a healthy range and your performance at its best.

Eat often. Sometimes people skip breakfast or have an early lunch, then try to play a late afternoon game. Not getting enough food to fuel an activity can quickly wear you out and even place you at risk for injury or muscle fatigue. Be sure to eat lunch on practice and game days. If you feel hungry before the game, pack easy-to-carry, healthy snacks in your bag, such as fruit, trail mix, or string cheese. It's important to eat well after a workout.

Avoid harmful substances. Smoking will diminish your lung capacity and your ability to breathe, alcohol can make you sluggish and tired, and can impair your hand-eye coordination and reduce your alertness. And you can kiss your team good-bye if you get caught using drugs or alcohol many schools have a no-tolerance policy for harmful substances.

Train harder and smarter. If you get out of breath easily during your basketball game and you want to increase your endurance, work on improving your cardiovascular conditioning. If you think more leg strength will help you excel on the soccer field, consider weight training to increase your muscle strength. Before changing your program, though, get advice from your doctor.

Consult a professional. If you're concerned about your weight or whether your diet is helping your performance, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian who can evaluate your nutrition and steer you in the right direction. Coaches can help too. And if you're still convinced that supplements will help you, talk to your doctor or a sports medicine specialist. The doc will be able to offer alternatives to supplements based on your body and sport.