Diet influences the effectiveness of exercise. Quality and quantity are key for the body to react correctly and achieve optimal recovery.
The athlete’s needs are almost the same as those advised for a balanced diet. What is certain is that caloric intake should be increased to cover the increased expense of training , taking into account the weight, body composition and diet of the person.
WHAT SHOULD THE DIET OF SOMEONE WHO DOES SPORTS BE LIKE?
- The energy must come mainly from carbohydrates (55-65% of the total energy intake), since they favor the accumulation of glycogen reserves in the liver and muscles, necessary to maintain constant blood sugar, feed the brain with glucose and supply the muscles.
You should try to consume mostly complex carbohydrates, slow absorption, present in whole grains and legumes. These, unlike simple ones like refined sugar, do not produce glucose highs and lows.
- Proteins are essential to replace the wear and tear of muscles and other tissues, as well as to produce hormones, enzymes and hemoglobin. Eating more protein is
often believed to help build muscle and strength; however, the excess is stored as fat and can lead to decalcification and dehydration in the long run.
In fact, the athlete needs the same as the general population (15% of the total energy intake).
- As for fats, they should not exceed 25-30% of the total energy intake. They are a concentrated source of energy but require more oxygen for metabolism than carbohydrates.
Only training can support the body’s ability to use fat stores for energy. In fact, resistance exercises train the body to use them more efficiently. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats
should be prioritized over saturated fats.
In short, whether you want to play sports to lose a little weight or to improve strength or endurance, you should consider diet as a pillar of training and adjust it to your personal needs and goals. An excellent book on the subject may be helpful: Practical Guide to Sports Nutrition (Ed. Tutor).
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1. IF YOU EXERCISE, DO YOU HAVE TO EAT MORE?
The increase in energy expenditure when doing sports makes it possible to eat something more without gaining weight, but it should not alter the balance of the diet. Walking for an hour, for example, can consume 270 calories; run, 680. It is very important to distribute meals well and choose quality products.
2. DO YOU HAVE TO EAT BEFORE DOING SPORTS?
It is always advisable to eat something to avoid hypoglycemia. One hour before, you can eat easily digestible and quickly absorbed foods, such as a cereal bar, a yogurt with whole grains, dehydrated fruit or cereal porridge with oatmeal drink.
3. AND WHILE EXERCISING?
It depends on the duration of the exercise. In a 45-minute aerobics class it is not necessary to eat anything, although you do need to hydrate well; On the other hand, if you participate in a marathon, it is essential to eat easily digestible energy foods, such as dried or fresh fruit (dried figs, orange, apple), or cereal bars.
4. WHAT CARBOHYDRATES ARE MORE SUITABLE FOR ATHLETES?
For the day-to-day, the most recommended are the complexes. At the time of exercise, if it lasts more than an hour, it is advisable to take carbohydrates with a medium-high glycemic index, such as dried or fresh fruit.
It is preferable to avoid simple sugars (refined sugar and industrial pastries) because they can cause hypoglycemia.
5. DOES PROTEIN HELP MUSCLE?
For muscle it is not necessary to consume more protein, since excess overloads the liver and kidneys or is stored as fat. Actually, you have to combine the diet with a good cardio and weight training plan. Depending on the objective, a specific amino acid supplement can help.
6. SHOULD PROTEIN BE EATEN AFTER EXERCISE?
Proteins promote the recovery of exercised muscle fibers. After moving, it is advisable to eat dishes with a good dose of carbohydrates and a portion of protein. Taking branched- chain amino acids can also help.
7. WHAT TYPE OF EXERCISE BURNS THE MOST CALORIES?
Aerobic exercise. To obtain the energy it needs, the body mainly uses glycogen stores and once these are depleted it begins to use fat stores as well. If you exercise regularly, in the long run you increase your metabolism and improve the use of fat for energy.
8. DOES EXERCISE INCREASE THE NEED FOR VITAMINS?
An extra contribution may be required, which can be achieved through a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Vitamins and minerals do not produce energy but they are essential for the metabolism to function well. Depending on the case, a specific supplement will be recommended.
9. ARE ISOTONIC DRINKS ADVISABLE?
It is important to drink beverages that contain electrolytes. Isotonic, in addition to minerals, have 5-8% sugars and there are those who do not tolerate them well. An alternative is to drink natural fruit juice diluted in water with a pinch of sea salt, or even seawater ampoules, sold in pharmacies and dietetics.
10. CAN CRAMPS BE PREVENTED?
Muscle cramps appear due to an electrolyte decompensation. It is advisable to eat foods rich in magnesium every day, present above all in whole grains, legumes and seeds. A good job of stretching and proper training – avoiding overloads – also helps prevent them.