Diet for athletes

Faster, higher, further - in sports, of course, everyone wants to be first. However, only those who can achieve this goal with their own strength and without cheating really can win. Helping with doping is not only unfair, it can also be really dangerous. However, the body can also bring very different on the go, and completely legal and without side effects. In addition to a well-designed training plan, proper nutrition plays an important role.

Diet for athletes

Dope, of course

Faster, higher, further - in sports, of course, everyone wants to be first. However, only those who can achieve this goal with their own strength and without cheating really can win. Helping with doping is not only unfair, it can also be really dangerous. However, the body can also bring very different on the go, and completely legal and without side effects. In addition to a well-designed training plan, proper nutrition plays an important role.

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Fuel for muscles

In sports, the body uses energy, and he has to get it back. A working muscle needs around 300 times more energy than hibernation. For example, cyclists can use up to 30,000 kilojoules (kJ) in stage races. The body gains the power for such services from adenosine triphosphate, ATP for short. If you compare the muscles with a car engine, ATP would be the gasoline. So that they can work properly, the body always needs enough of it. ATP he can make himself from the food energy.

In principle there are two possibilities: with the help of oxygen (aerobic) or without (anaerobic). In the aerobic route, glucose (glucose) and fatty acids are the main sources of energy. In the anaerobic route, the body can resort to the so-called creatine phosphate, for example, at the beginning of a strong athletic load. However, the stores of creatine phosphate are only enough for seconds to a few minutes, which is why the body then has to switch back to the other way.

Lots of carbs, low in fat

The most important source of energy for athletes is carbohydrates. For example, they are abundant in bread, rice, pasta or potatoes. But even normal sugar consists exclusively of carbohydrates. Endurance athletes should come to a carbohydrate content of 55 to 60 percent, strength athletes from 50 to 55 percent.

The daily intake of protein in adults is according to recommendations of the German Society of Nutrition (DGE) at 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight (g / kg bw). This corresponds to 10 to 15 percent of the total amount of energy per day. For recreational and endurance athletes, this amount is usually sufficient for strength athletes who want to build muscle, it should be up to 20 percent. Suitable sources of protein include (low-fat) milk and dairy products, lean meats, fish or legumes.

The daily amount of fat should not exceed 25 to 30 percent of the total energy. It can also be up to 35 percent for performance-oriented athletes. But no more, because fat is a very high-calorie nutrient (1 gram of fat has around 9 kcal, 1 gram of carbohydrates or protein about 4 kcal). In the long run this can be on the hips.

In addition, it is less suitable for energy than carbohydrates. This is because the body can store carbohydrates in the form of glycogen in the liver and muscle, creating a rapidly available supply of energy. Fat food is also longer in the stomach and a full stomach is annoying but especially in a competition.

Daily nutritional requirement (according to fitness type in%)

Recreational athletesendurance athletesKraftsportler
carbohydrates50 -556055
fats25 - 30to 35to 35
proteins1010 - 15until 20
Source: BMELV

Eating in moderation

Considering these basics, the most important thing is already done. Everyone should, however, pay attention to individual needs and well-being. Above all, you should avoid going hungry in a competition, but also supersaturated. Optimal is a carbohydrate-rich main meal with at least three hours away from the competition, then snacks such as granola bars or bananas are good for the small appetite.

Drink enough

In addition, very important: drink enough to compensate for losses caused by sweating. As sweat is also always lost to salt, enough sodium should be present in the drinks. Because the body loses too much sodium chloride, the sodium level in the blood drops, which can lead to a circulatory collapse. Athletes should not drink the liquid rashly, if only because of the additional ballast.About one liter per hour, distributed over several portions are recommended.

Performance increase mostly unnecessary

Incidentally, these tips are not just for competitive athletes. Because everyone who practices sports can benefit from a sensible and balanced diet, thus improving their performance. To keep little is of alleged performance enhancers such as amino acid mixtures, carnitine or creatine. In special cases, they may be necessary for competitive athletes to compensate for deficits or to specifically increase their performance in certain situations. For recreational athletes, however, this is not necessary and a real effect has not been proven. In addition, it is currently not known whether such preparations have long-term side effects. So dope with natural food. Tastes better too.

Johannes WeiรŸ is a doctor, nutritionist and freelance journalist. He lives in Bad Kissingen.


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