Despite their age, all athletes can benefit from keeping a balanced diet plan. The following tips can improve athletic performance and recovery after exercise !
•In periods of intense and extended training, athletes need to consume enough energy (Kcal) in order to maintain their body weight, their health and to maximize the benefits of exercise.
•The ideal body fat levelsdepend on the gender, the age and the inheritance of the athletes. Daily measurement of body weight is not recommended. Preferably, the weight loss is recommended for off-season and it would be great the contribution of a qualified dietitian.
•Reccomendations for Carbohydrates are :6-10gr / kg BW / day. Carbohydrates are essential for the maintenance of blood glycose levels during the exercise and they replenish muscle glycogen. The required amount depends on: the overall energy consumption of the athlete, the type of sport, the gender and the environmental conditions.
•Reccomendations for protein (for strength and endurance athletes) are: 1.2 -1.7 gr / kgBW/ day. These needs can generally be covered by the athlete's diet without the use of protein supplements or amino acids.
•Reccomendations for fat are: 20 - 35% of total energy intake (kcal). Fat consumption ≤ 20% is not conductive to athletic performance. Fat, which is a source of energy, offat soluble vitamins and of essential fatty acids, are important in an athlete's diet. Diets rich in fat (>35 - 40%) are not recommended for athletes.
•Indanger of micro-nutrient deficiency are the athletes who restrict their energy intake, use severe weight loss methods, consume high or low carb diets or exclude one or more food groups from their diet. Athletes should cover the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of micro-nutrients from their diet.
•Dehydration (loss of body fluids > 2 - 3% of BW) reduces athletic performance. For that reason, adequate fluid intake is required before, during and after exercise to avoid the presence of dehydration. Athletes are not recommended to drink more than drip losses during sweating. Before exercise, it is recommended intake5 - 7ml liquid / kg BW. After exercise, it is recommended fluid intake450 - 675ml / 0.5kg BW lost during exercise.
• Meal or snack before exercise :
1. to meet the needs in liquids
2. to be relatively low in fat and in dietary fibers to facilitate gastric emptying and minimize congestion of the gastrointestinal
3. to be relatively high in carbohydrates to maintain blood glycose levels
4. to be moderate in protein
5. to be composed of ordinary foods
•During exercise :
a. for endurance sports and duration > 1 hour when the athlete has not consumed enough food or fluids before the exercise
b. to heat, cold and high altitude :
o fluid replacement
o carbohydrate intake (30 - 60gr / h) for the maintenance of blood glycose levels
•After exercise :
o adequate intake of fluids, electrolytes, energy and carbohydrates to replenish muscle glycogen and immediate restoration
o cabrohydrate intake: 1 - 1.5gr / kg BW the first 30' and then every 2 hours for the remaining 4 - 6 hours
•Generally, when the athlete takes energy from all food groups for the maintenance of body weight, he doesn't need supplementation of vitamins and minerals. The use of multivitamin supplements is recommended when :
•Athletes should be advised to use ergogenic aids. Such formulations should be used after careful assessment of safety, efficiency, power and legitimacy.
•Vegetarian athletes may be at risk for low intake of energy, protein, fat and micro-nutrients such as iron, calcium, vitamin D, riboflavin, zinc and vitamin B12.