Those who practice sport in a constant way need a dietary program that can support the training. The use of vitamins and supplements is not the most suitable solution, especially if the base lacks the right nutritional intake that can support physical performance, and bad eating habits can even compromise athletic ability.
Having an appropriate energy breakfast as well as a healthy and balanced diet allows the athlete to achieve the right nutritional needs. When exercising, of course, the nutritional requirement must be higher than when not training. There are three basic fuels that can not miss in a sports diet:
A balanced diet is rich in carbohydrates, but low in fat, must provide the right amount of protein and must include foods rich in vitamins, minerals and even antioxidants. In short, the body must be supported in physical activity and at the same time protected from the stress of training. Let’s see what are the energy foods for sport.
The right foods can help us get back into shape and meet our energy and micronutrient needs. On the contrary, an unbalanced diet can cause problems: a slight fatigue can result, for example, from a lack of vitamins or minerals, which can be easily replenished with the right foods.
It is not by chance that energy foods for sport are those that make up a balanced and healthy diet: fruit and vegetables, milk and dairy products, potatoes and foods that are rich in proteins such as legumes, fish, meat and eggs. But it is also a vegetarian diet that is suitable for sportsmen and sportswomen, containing little fat, but many carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidant substances that help the body to support training.
To avoid a drop in energy the advice is to eat at regular intervals, in this way the body learns to manage its resources and also its appetite. Experts recommend interspersing the three main meals with two mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks. It is also absolutely not recommended to skip breakfast as it is a very important moment: the body wakes up from night’s rest and needs a source of energy to face the day.
But what are the energy foods for sport? Contrary to popular belief, sucrose and simple sugars do not fall into this category, as they provide a burst of immediate energy, which, however, runs out very quickly. Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, are more suitable, as the body slowly assimilates them and releases energy for longer. These include cereals, pasta and wholemeal bread which, thanks to their fibres, slow down the absorption of carbohydrates.
Other energy foods are those rich in iron such as meat and green leafy vegetables. Since the iron of vegetable foods is absorbed more slowly than that of foods of animal origin, it is recommended to take them together with other foods that are a source of vitamin C that increases the bioavailability of iron. In short, a splash of lemon on spinach is enough to make them perfect. Other foods in which vitamin C can be found are kiwis, citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes and peppers.
Potassium and magnesium are very important mineral salts because they are involved in the contraction of muscles and the transmission of nerve impulses. They also help the development of certain metabolic reactions. Finally, the diet of athletes includes vitamins, in particular those of group B such as B1, B6, B9, B12.
B1 is found in pork, whole grains, legumes and dried fruit; B6 is found in fish, meat, whole grains, potatoes, bananas, legumes and avocado.
Rich in vitamin B9 (folic acid) are green leafy vegetables, B12 is only in food of animal origin, otherwise it should be taken in the form of supplements. Very important is also vitamin E found in vegetable oils (corn, soybeans, peanuts, etc..) and dried fruit: this vitamin, specifically, in addition to acting in improving the immune system, is famous for its antioxidant action as it acts against free radicals that are responsible for the processes of cellular aging.