Food For Sport: What a Sportsperson Should Eat
WHAT SHOULD A SPORTSPERSON EAT?
Both athletes and non athletes need the same nutrients... carbohydrate, protein, fat, vitamins, mineral and water, but they need to consume them in different quantities and proportions.
Vitamins and minerals do not provide energy, but are needed in very small amounts to enable the body to perform efficiently and effectively.
It is essential that the food you eat provides sufficient energy to fuel your sport. It is also important that you obtain this energy from the correct food choices, to avoid gaining excess body fat, and to ensure you meet requirements for vitamins and minerals. This booklet will advise you how to get the balance right.
FUELS FOR EXERCISE
Carbohydrate and fat are the 2 main fuels for exercising muscles. The proportion of carbohydrate to fat used during exercise depends on the type, duration, and intensity of your exercise, as well your fitness level and nutritional status.
Even the leanest athletes have ample stores of fat, however, carbohydrate stores are limited.
Carbohydrate - The Mainstay of an Athlete's Diet
Carbohydrates are chains of glucose/sugar units. Simple chain structures are known as sugars while more complicated chains are called starches. Starches are broken down into their constituent sugars units in our mouths and intestines. The sugar units are then absorbed by the intestine into the blood stream.
Carbohydrate is stored in the body as glycogen in both the liver and muscles. During exercise glycogen is broken down into glucose to supply the working muscles with energy. An inadequate intake of carbohydrate rich foods leads to incomplete muscle glycogen stores. This will cause early fatigue, and will affect your daily training and performance.
Protein is necessary for growth, maintenance, and repair of body tissue. Athletes taking part in strength and endurance sports have higher protein requirements than non-athletes. However, most athletes can meet this increased requirement through a varied balanced diet, which meets their energy needs. It is generally not necessary to take specialised protein powders / bars / supplements.
Small amounts of fat in your diet are necessary. However, for athletes a high fat intake is generally not recommended as it increases the risk of excessive gains in body fat, and results in lower carbohydrate intakes.