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Diet for Athletes, how to guide eating

by Georgia Ede
Published: Last Updated on

The diet for athletes

The importance of proper nutrition in sport is a fact known to athletes themselves and their coaches. For professional athletes who aim to improve their marks or performance , a good diet is key to achieving the goal , for amateur athletes this aspect is not so vital, but of course it is very important.

The planning of the diet varies if the exercise or the training that we are going to do is resistance or aerobic such as; running, cycling, tennis, soccer, etc …, or if it is strength training or muscle toning. It is important to direct our diet to the exercise that is going to be carried out since our resistance and subsequent recovery from sports activity depends on it.

In addition, it should be noted that nutrition can help us increase the performance and resistance of our workouts according to our objective. We can exercise for different purposes, such as to lose weight , to define our muscles , to increase muscle mass , or simply to feel good. Therefore, for an adequate diet for the practice of sport, different factors must be taken into account, which we will explain below.

What should we take into account when planning a menu?

  • ENERGY – To do sports of medium or long duration we need energy so that our muscles continue working, for this we will need that between 60% -70% of our diet is based on complex carbohydrates (these foods are composed, among others, of bread , rice, pasta, cereals, tubers and fruits).

The carbohydrates are the main source of energy and get them fill deposits muscle glycogen. When these deposits are emptied, the body begins to burn fat to produce energy, which is why fatigue will arrive earlier.

Therefore, we must bear in mind that we have to offer our body what it needs without having to go through difficulties obtaining energy during activity, since this could cause damage to our body and cases of fainting, fatigue, etc.

  • HYDRATION – Fluid intake will be essential and should not only be done during exercise but must be taken into account in the diet to keep the body well hydrated before, during and after exercise. On a normal occasion we need around 2 liters of water a day to maintain a good water balance, so in cases of long-term exercises the needs increase.

Dehydration problems are very common in athletes, for a correct balance it is important that you monitor your magnesium levels, since excessive sweating causes deficiencies of this mineral and you may need a marine magnesium supplement to regulate this deficit.

  • PROTEINS – The protein intake in the diet must be moderate. Athletes need to provide about 15% protein in the diet. These contribute to a good recovery of muscles damaged by exercise.Protein foods include meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, etc.

It should be noted that after numerous studies, different ideas have been clarified that have to do with sports and proteins ; Among these concepts, it should be noted that protein is essential for any individual, but if you are an athlete even more so since it deals with muscle development and recovery.

Proteins are divided between those of animal origin ( high biological value ) and those of plant origin, it is important that we consume both types. Those of animal origin provide us with the highest quality proteins but they provide us with fats so we must control them; while the proteins of vegetable origin provide us with protein and fiber .

It should be noted that, contrary to what was previously believed, the protein must be cooked for the body to assimilate it correctly; so protein shakes with raw egg whites are not a good option for building muscle mass.

  • FATS – We must emphasize that the fats necessary for the proper functioning of the body, but we have to opt for the healthy fats that our body will use as energy. If you still don’t know how to distinguish between good and bad fats , we recommend that you learn more about it here .

Of course, large meals rich in fat should be avoided, not only because of the heavy digestions that can occur but also because fat is not a good source of energy for muscle work.

Are supplements in the diet for athletes necessary?

The contribution of the necessary nutrients for our organism must be based on an adequate and varied diet that guarantees our organism the power to have what it really needs to carry out a correct functional activity, but in the case of athletes the supplementation of Certain nutrients, although generally not necessary, can be of great help, see here the types of sports supplements .

It is important that you know the effects of each supplement before taking them and that you inform your health personnel (doctor or nutritionist) so that they can inform you in depth about possible problems derived from its consumption.

As you know there are many supplements and we must choose them according to our needs. In this post you can find more information about the types  of protein shakes and which one to choose .

How to adjust your diet to lose fat?

If you do physical exercise with the intention of losing fat and as a consequence lose weight, we can recommend that you adjust your diet to your needs in such a way that what would be best for you would be to make a small reduction in carbohydrates and increase the protein content in the diet Since this way you will achieve a higher level of satiety and a decrease in caloric intake; what will contribute to weight loss; you should also reduce fat . In these cases it is very important to adjust the caloric intake to the maximum so that caloric surpluses are not created that accumulate in the form of fat in the body.

You can see the protein diet to lose weight without losing muscle mass  here .

Nutrition for gym athletes, how to adapt it?

If, in your case, you want to adapt your diet, orienting it towards greater muscle development and definition, we advise you to progressively reduce the consumption of carbohydrates in order to empty glycogen reserves, to maintain the level of fats by controlling the consumption of healthier ones and to tone your muscles with an increase in protein consumption in a progressive and training-oriented way. You can learn in depth in this post about the muscle definition diet .

Each athlete, depending on the intensity and duration of their workouts, will have to carry out a more or less caloric diet depending on their energy needs.

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