By TRESA ERICKSON
Spring will soon be here, and with it, warmer weather. If you are an athlete, you are probably looking forward to warm temperatures and the start of another season. You may even be working out in the gym and looking for ways to improve your performance. Be careful, though, what you read and hear. Make sure you can tell these facts from fiction.
Drinking fluids while exercising prevents stomach cramps.
True. When you exercise, you sweat, resulting in the loss of valuable body fluids. To replace those fluids, you need to drink at least a half a cup of water or sports drink every 10–15 minutes of exercise. If you don’t, you may end up with stomach cramps.
Diets with a ratio of 40 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent protein and 30 percent fat are ideal.
False. These types of diets are so low in carbohydrates and calories that you may find yourself feeling tired. A better diet would include 55–58 percent carbohydrates, 12–15 percent protein and 25–30 percent fat.
Different types of exercise build different types of muscles.
False. All muscles are the same. There are different types of exercise that will help build different muscles, but the results are the same: bigger, stronger muscles. The only qualities you can change about your muscles are their mass and shape.
Steroids are one of the worst ways to bulk up.
True. Although steroids do build muscles, they are dangerous and have serious side effects. When abused, they can stunt growth, deepen the voice and alter the reproductive organs. Some athletes have even died after using them for a long period of time.
Protein supplements increase muscle mass.
False. While it is true that protein helps keep bones and muscles strong, the only way to gain muscle is by eating right and exercising. Like calories, excess protein is stored as fat, so the only thing you stand to gain by consuming additional protein is fat.
Sugary products should be avoided before a competition.
False. Sugar is a carbohydrate. It increases glucose and insulin levels, and if eaten before a game, can give you some much-needed fuel.
Vitamin supplements increase energy.
False. Vitamins help the body use energy; they do not supply it. Taking too much of a particular vitamin can be dangerous. Chronic intake of vitamin D, for example, can lead to kidney stones and hypercalcemia, while chronic intake of vitamin A can result in hair loss, liver damage and headaches.
Special supplements, such as amino acids and ginseng, do nothing to improve athletic performance.
True. Although many companies say otherwise, there is no evidence that taking ginseng or some other supplement will enhance an athletic performance. In fact, the use of some has proven to be dangerous, not to mention, quite expensive.
Unfortunately, there are no quick-fixes for improving your athletic performance. To be at the top of your game, you must eat right and exercise. So watch your diet and make time for the gym.