The nutrition of athletes is different from that of ordinary people for several reasons. First, active sports require much more energy than working in the office or even in the workplace. Secondly, heavy loads and quite specific requirements for the functionality of the athlete’s body require a special approach to the composition of the diet.
Proper nutrition for athletes should be caloric, healthy and varied.
Basic requirements for sports nutrition
To achieve high sports results, it is important to correctly dose the load and provide recovery after them. Recovery is impossible without adequate nutrition – this is what supplies the body with energy and material for the reproduction of new cells.
The athlete’s diet should be developed taking into account the following tasks:
- Providing the body with the necessary amount of calories, microelements and vitamins (caloric content depends on specific sports tasks);
- Activation and normalization of metabolic processes (this point is provided by biological active substances and various natural supplements);
- Weight regulation (at different stages athletes need to increase, reduce or maintain the mass in an unchanged state);
- Change in morphological parameters (increase in muscle mass and decrease in fat deposits).
Athletes spend a huge amount of energy on maintaining vital vital functions (heart, digestion, breathing) during exercise: the internal organs work in an intensive mode during athletic exercises. If nutrients are not enough, there will be an energy imbalance that will lead to the exhaustion of the body.
That’s why the correct diet of the athlete is so important. The athlete’s diet should be optimally balanced and cover energy costs: the composition of food consumed must include exclusively natural and healthy products of plant and animal nature.
Nutrition for athletes
The qualitative composition of food for athletes should be selected taking into account individual physical characteristics, features of sports discipline, level of loads. But regardless of what kind of sport the athlete is engaged in, his food should contain all the necessary macro- and microelements.
In terms of quality, the correct diet for the athlete should be approximated to the formula: 30% – proteins, 60% – carbohydrates, 10% – fats. It should also be remembered about trace elements and vitamins, which can be supplied to the body both as a part of food of diverse origin and in the form of special medicinal complexes. Read the article about balance of vitamins and microelements.
This is the most important component in sports nutrition. The importance of proteins in the body is multifaceted:
- It is a building material from which the body produces all biological structures (protein consists of muscle tissue, ligaments, tendons, organic part of bone tissue);
- Proteins act as catalysts, accelerating millions of times biochemical processes;
- All energy and metabolic reactions taking place in cells depend on the activity of protein-enzymes;
- Proteins are part of hormones and are growth factors;
- Proteins perform a transport function, providing tissues with oxygen and nutrients;
- Participate in immune protection (antibodies in fact there are specific protein molecules).
The main sources of protein for athletes are:
- Fish (in fish besides proteins, fatty acids and vitamins are also contained);
- Meat (for athletes it is better to use low-fat meat varieties – poultry, rabbit, tender veal varieties);
- Eggs (the egg contains the most important amino acids for the body, as well as fats and vitamins);
- Dairy products (milk protein contains a lot of methionine – an indispensable amino acid, which is not produced by the human body).
Carbohydrates are the basis for metabolic and energy processes. During the load carbohydrate compounds are consumed especially intensively. For athletes it is more useful to use “complex” carbohydrates, which are contained in brown rice, wheat, black bread, fruits and vegetables, and not “simple” – those that are abundant in sugar, sweets and lemonade. Sugar athletes should be replaced with honey, which, in addition to carbohydrates contains an incredible amount of vitamins and trace elements.
Another source of energy and building material, which is part of all cell membranes. The main percentage of fat consumption among athletes is to perform laborious and slow exercises, to maintain a constant body temperature and stable operation of internal organs during exercise.
In the athlete’s menu for a week, it is advisable to combine vegetable and animal fats, which perform various tasks in the body. Fats of vegetable origin must be supplied to the body in the composition of vegetable oil (preferably olive oil), fats and fatty acids of animal nature are found in butter and fatty fish.
Examples of sports menus
In the approximate menu of the athlete for a day, taking into account the formula for the balance of proteins, carbohydrates and fats can include:
- 400 g of poultry meat;
- 4-5 eggs;
- 400 g of cottage cheese;
- 30 g of oil;
- 200 g of bread;
- 500 g of porridge from useful cereals;
- 300 g of fruit;
- 300 g of vegetables.
The athletic diet for muscular mass for athletes-siloviki should include additional sources of proteins. Some athletes prefer special additives – gainers, amino acids, proteins for the preparation of protein cocktails.
Proper nutrition for girls athletes also has its own characteristics. In their menu should predominate vegetable fiber, complex carbohydrates and monounsaturated fats. In addition, girls prefer fractional meals: breaks between meals should not exceed 3 hours.
An approximate menu for girls actively involved in sports should look like this:
- Breakfast № 1: 100 grams of oatmeal and 3 eggs;
- Breakfast number 2: 0.5 liters of kefir or milk;
- Lunch: 200 grams of fish or white poultry meat, 150 grams of rice (preferably brown), salad of fresh vegetables with olive oil;
- Afternoon snack: 200 g cottage cheese + nuts;
- Dinner: 200 grams of fish (meat), fruit or salad;
- Before going to bed: half a liter of kefir or other sour-milk product.
The athlete’s diet for a week (month) should be made according to the same principles. Two conditions that must be met by the consumed products are variety and naturalness.
Products that are best excluded from the sports menu are sugar, ordinary food salt (you should use only sea salt with useful elements), fried, spicy food, mushrooms, alcohol, semi-finished products, fruit juices from powder, yoghurts.
Athletes can not overeat and remain hungry. During the meal, rush is contraindicated and it is strongly recommended that the food be thoroughly chewed. It is also important to constantly monitor your weight and well-being, as well as the spirit of victory.