Eat Healthy As An Athlete

How To Eat Healthy As An Athlete

Whether swimming, Jogging or soccer – people who do sports regularly in their free time need more energy than others. A healthy diet is essential. The demands on a healthy diet vary depending on the sport. Those who want to build muscle mass eat differently than someone who wants to train their endurance.

Basic And Service Turnover

Nevertheless, during any physical activity, the body needs sufficient food intake to meet its basic needs. The composition of the food is crucial. The body’s energy requirement results from the basic and output metabolism.

The basal metabolic rate indicates the energy requirement that the body uses when resting, for example for heartbeat or breathing. It increases with the proportion of muscle mass.

Any physical activity going beyond this is added to the performance turnover. Depending on the activity and duration, this can therefore fluctuate. Both basic and physical metabolic rates play an important role in sport.

Meeting Energy Needs During Sport

Which substances are primarily consumed in sport depends primarily on the intensity of the exercise. During short but intense activities, the body gets its energy needs mainly from carbohydrates. These are stored in the liver and muscles in the form of glycogen as reserve material. If the body is suddenly heavily stressed, the muscle glycogen is mobilized and used up as an energy reserve for the muscles.

Only after prolonged activity does the body fall back on fat reserves. If the body lacks carbohydrates and fats, proteins are converted into glucose in the liver, which also provides energy. Nevertheless, there is a risk of hypoglycemia, as not enough proteins can be converted under certain circumstances.

The consequences can be dizziness, weakness, and nausea. It can also lead to food cravings and excessive calorie intake. This can lead to unwanted weight gain. Because when the muscle glycogen stores are replenished, the additional carbohydrates are converted into fat and stored as a fat reserve.

Burning Fat During Endurance Training

If the exercise intensity is lower, the proportion of carbohydrates that are converted for a sufficient energy supply decreases. This is especially the case with endurance sports. The body then gets its energy mainly from burning fat. This is done aerobically, that is, with the consumption of oxygen.

Through targeted endurance training, fat burning can be trained: The mitochondria of the muscle cells, which are responsible for the metabolism, gradually enlarge and can convert fatty acids better when oxygen is supplied. However, this effect only occurs after several months of training.

Regardless of what goals athletes pursue, dietary rules still apply that make sport an all-around healthy experience.

Carbohydrates As The Most Important Source Of Energy

About half of the daily energy requirement should be covered by carbohydrates since they are the most important sources of energy for intellectual and sporting activities. They are stored in the muscles, among other things, in the form of glycogen.

During physical exertion, these reserves are used to quickly deliver the necessary energy. That is why athletes should ensure that they consume sufficient carbohydrates before and during training.

Diet Rich In Carbohydrates

This can be ensured by eating a high-carbohydrate meal with pasta or potatoes about three hours before training. Smaller sources of carbohydrates such as bananas can also be eaten just before exercise, as they do not put as much strain on digestion.

So that the body can regenerate again, care should be taken to refill the carbohydrate stores after training. Foods that release energy quickly are ideal here. Foods with a high glycemic index such as white flour products and sugary products are suitable for this.

But be careful: many recreational athletes overestimate their energy consumption and consume too many calories after exercising. The carbohydrates that the body cannot use immediately are converted into fat. Suitable foods high in carbohydrates are:

  • whole-grain products
  • Pasta
  • Potatoes
  • rice
  • fruit and vegetables

In addition to providing energy, they also ensure that the body is supplied with sufficient fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Protein For Building Muscle

Proteins are very important for building new muscle cells. Both strength and endurance athletes should make sure they have adequate protein intake.

The role of proteins in athletes has long been overestimated. An excessive protein intake may present risks even as its metabolic products are excreted through the kidneys and can be damaged by overuse.

Which Proteins Are Suitable?

In general, care should be taken to ensure a balanced mixture of animal and vegetable proteins. Although animal protein is more valuable than vegetable protein, it is advisable not to consume more than 50 percent of it. Animal proteins can raise the cholesterol level and are also often linked to the consumption of fat.

Animal products suitable for athletes are eggs, fish, low-fat meat, and low-fat dairy products. Vegetable proteins are mainly found in grain products, nuts, and potatoes.

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