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Sport and nutrition or the importance of a good diet for athletes

September 03, 2021 4 min read

Sport and nutrition or the importance of a good diet for athletes

This article is an automatic translation from our Original French blog. This text may contain translation errors. Thank you for your understanding.

Do you like to do sport? Do you consider yourself a sportsman? But do you think you have a balanced diet, adapted to your needs as a sportsman? It is not as easy as you might think to answer this question. Did you know that sportsmen and women have very specific dietary requirements? Let's find out without further ado the benefits of a diet adapted to sportsmen and women.

WHAT IS SPORTS NUTRITION?

Sports nutrition is nutrition that takes into account the needs of an athlete by providing a specific diet.

Indeed, by practising a regular sporting activity (running, fitness, basketball, football, etc.) you put a lot of strain on your body and need a different diet from a person who does not practise an activity, if only in terms of recovery, to enable you to keep and maintain your shape.

When we talk about a balanced diet, we think first of all of the basic principles: eat 5 fruits and vegetables a day, compose your meals by incorporating vegetables and cereals, limit unhealthy fats and sugary products, drink 1 to 1.5L of water a day.

As a sportsman it is important to add a few points to these basic recommendations:

Drink enough water before, during and after each session, as hydration is the key to maintaining good performance.
After a good session your body has generally produced sweat, which means a loss of water for your body, which must be replaced by hydrating, but also during the session. Did you know that sweat helps to reduce your weight, and that a 2% reduction in weight can lead to a 10-20% loss in performance? A good reason to never forget your water bottle! Here's a little tip on how much water to drink: first weigh yourself before and after your sports session; then note how much water you drank during; the weight you lose is in fact the amount of water lost; the amount of water you need to drink is therefore the amount you lost + the amount you drank during the session. You can then divide this amount into 1/4 hour increments to see how much water you need to drink during the session.

Limit or even eliminate tobacco and alcohol: it's no secret that tobacco and alcohol have negative repercussions on our bodies. In addition to its harmful effects on the lungs, smoking contributes to a loss of breath and a decrease in performance.

Remember to eat snacks after a sports session, such as nuts or seeds, which are ideal for recovery.

Last but not least, getting a good night's sleep is an important condition for the proper functioning of the body.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS AND ADVANTAGES OF A SUITABLE DIET FOR ATHLETES?

First of all, it is essential to understand that what we choose to eat has an effect on our health, so a good diet generally brings us good health (apart from particular health problems of course). Food can also play a medicinal role, depending on the type of food chosen, and provide many benefits.

For example, there are many foods in the daily diet that have good properties:

First of all, spices and herbs:
For spices, we can mention cinnamon, turmeric, or ginger. These spices have many benefits, turmeric has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and can help treat arthritis, and ginger is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat colds and help with digestion. As for herbs, we can mention for example thyme or rosemary, thyme being used for many centuries for its numerous virtues (fighting sore throats, bloating etc)

Fruit and vegetables:
Eating fruit and vegetables is excellent for your health, as they contain antioxidants that help protect the body against disease. It is also important to eat legumes, which provide iron and potassium. They are found in lentils, beans, peas and so on.

Vitamins:
Vitamins are an inexhaustible source of benefits and are essential for a sportsman. They contribute to the production of the energy you need during your sports session, for the protection of muscle tissue, or to maintain the immune system and the cardiovascular system. They are found in fruit, vegetables, meat, oily fish such as salmon, and vegetable oils such as olive oil.

Carbohydrates and fats:
For an athlete, carbohydrates and fats are an essential component of their diet. They provide energy, enabling the muscles to function properly. Carbohydrates are mainly used for energy: when they are consumed, they are transformed into glucose by the body, which uses them to create energy and store it. They are found in pasta (wholemeal pasta), wholemeal bread and rice. Fats also provide energy like carbohydrates, but help to increase and prolong this energy reserve, which is perfect when a long sports session is ahead of us. They are found in cheese, egg yolks, cold meats, avocados, oily fish such as salmon, vegetable oils such as sunflower oil or even walnuts or almonds.

Fibre:
Fibre is an important part of a good diet. It contributes to good digestion, lowers cholesterol, and also provides beneficial bacteria for the stomach. Finally, fibre is perfect for a sportsman's diet, helping to build and maintain muscle. Fibre-rich foods can help protect the body from disease by strengthening the immune system. They are found in beans, vegetables, fruit and cereals. However, be careful not to overdo it, as too much can lead to unpleasant digestive symptoms (diarrhoea, bloating, etc.).

Proteins:
Proteins are well known to sportsmen and women for their important role in the body. Generally a sports person consumes a lot of protein, particularly to help the body recover after a session. Amino acids, which make up proteins, help the immune system, the metabolism and muscle synthesis. They are found in fish, meat, dairy products and eggs, but also in cereals, potatoes and legumes.

As we can see, a good diet contributes to the multiple benefits of our body.

As an athlete, a diet that meets your nutritional and energy needs will help your body to recover more easily and your muscle tissue to become stronger.



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