What Should I Eat To Improve My Sports Performance?
If you practice any sport, it is possible that at some point you have considered how important nutrition is when it comes to improving your sports performance. Whether you are an amateur athlete or if you have years of experience competing in any sport, improving your diet will always be a plus to improving your sports performance. So if you have doubts about what you should eat to improve your sports performance, be sure to read the advice that we give you below.
Foods That You Should Include In Your Diet For Good Sports Performance
The first thing you should take into account when improving your sports performance is that your diet be complete and balanced. Often, there is a high concern about what to eat before, during, and after a workout, leaving aside what is eaten for the rest of the day. One of the factors that will have the most influence on improving your results will be that the calculation of what you eat throughout the day is balanced and provides you with sufficient nutrients. And this is achieved by taking into account each of the intakes you make during the day. In general, it is important that in your diet you include the following food groups in your diet:
- Vegetables, fruits, and vegetables. These food groups are going to be your main source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Although vitamins and minerals are not nutrients that provide energy, they are essential for the body to carry out its functions.
- Protein foods. Among the foods that will provide quality protein to your diet, we find fish, lean meats, eggs, legumes, and vegetable derivatives such as tofu, tempeh, or seitan. Ideally, they are part of each of your main meals, as they will help the recovery and maintenance of your muscle mass.
- Foods are rich in carbohydrates. They are essential in the athlete’s diet. The carbohydrates that you include in your diet must come mainly from whole grains, legumes, and tubers, that is, they are complex carbohydrates. However, keep in mind that, during sports practice, and depending on the sport and your recovery times, you may need sources of simple carbohydrates that help reduce muscle glycogen recovery time.
- Healthy fats. Try to include sources of healthy (unsaturated) fats in your diet. You can do it using olive oil or eating foods rich in healthy fats such as nuts and avocados.
- Dairy and vegetable equivalents. Although dairy products are not essential, they are a good option to provide quality protein and calcium to the diet. If you do not consume dairy products, you can opt for calcium-enriched vegetable drinks with no added sugars. Keep in mind that vegetable drinks contain less protein than milk. The vegetable drink that has a nutritional profile most similar to milk is soy drink.
- water. Staying well-hydrated is very important during sports since dehydration will make you feel fatigued sooner.
Carbohydrates Vs. Proteins: Which Is More Important?
A question that is often asked is whether it is necessary to take a protein shake after exercising. In itself, the protein shake will not improve your sports performance, since the main thing will be that your basic diet is balanced, as we have previously mentioned. In this sense, we can say that a protein shake is one of the options that exist to provide protein to your diet, but it is not the only one.
Importance Of Protein In Athletes
Proteins are necessary molecules for the development of tissues such as muscle and its maintenance, but they are also involved in the synthesis of hormones or the transport of different substances. In the case of athletes, their popularity is determined because they are essential nutrients to activate muscle hypertrophy pathways while preventing protein catabolism when doing sports. For this reason, consuming enough protein will help build muscle thanks to its protein synthesis ability to repair damage after exercise.
How Much Protein Do I Have To Eat If I Do Sports?
The amount of protein that you have to include in your diet if you play sports depends on several factors such as age, the type of sport that is practiced, the type of protein sources that are consumed, or the state of health of the person.
In the case of athletes, between 15% and 20% of total energy should come from protein. This percentage is reduced to 8% – 10% in the case of sedentary people, which corresponds to about 0.8-1g of protein per kg of weight.
On the other hand, if you are an athlete and your goal is to increase or maintain muscle mass, you should consume between 1.2 and 2.2 g of protein per kilo of body weight per day.
What Type Of Protein Is Best For Sports Performance?
To reach your recommended daily amount of protein, you can opt for foods of animal and vegetable origin. Proteins of animal origin contain all the essential amino acids, contrary to what happens with proteins of vegetable origin. That is, those of animal origin are of greater biological value.
However, some plant-based protein sources do contain all the essential amino acids, such as soybeans, chickpeas, quinoa, pistachios, or some types of beans. In addition, if different sources of vegetable protein (nuts, legumes, and cereals) are combined, a sufficient amount of essential amino acids can be obtained.
As they have high amounts of essential amino acids, the most recommended proteins are the milk proteins that are discussed on the MyProtein website, such as those from whey protein or casein proteins, those extracted from bovine colostrum. , those derived from soybeans and those derived from eggs.
The speed of digestion and absorption of proteins also depends on their source. Quality, low-fat protein sources such as chicken, fish, egg white, casein, and whey have the fastest digestion and absorption rates. On the other hand, the absorption of amino acids from vegetable proteins is usually slower. As an exception, we have leucine from rice, which is absorbed faster than whey, the famous whey protein.
Importance Of Carbohydrates In The Athlete’s Diet
Unfortunately, carbohydrates do not have the popularity of protein when it comes to sports nutrition, and their importance in the diet is mistakenly left in the background. However, carbohydrates are the main source of energy for our body. Carbohydrates allow us to obtain quick energy to maintain adequate blood glucose levels while we exercise and also allow us to replenish muscle glycogen at the end of the exercise.
For this reason, an adequate consumption of carbohydrates is essential for sports performance. It is important to note that one of the reasons why fatigue may appear while exercising is having depleted muscle glycogen stores as well as low blood glucose during exercise.
If we compare the diet of an athlete with that of the general population, we will see that the athlete’s diet includes more foods rich in hydrates, since their energy expenditure is greater. For this, the consumption of cereals and derivatives, legumes, tubers, fruits, and vegetables must be increased throughout the day.
How Do I Recover The Lost Glycogen?
After exercising for more than an hour, your glycogen levels (the form of glucose stored in your muscle) may have dropped by 90%. To recover the previous levels, sufficient carbohydrates must be consumed.
During the first 2 hours, especially during the first, the rate at which glycogen is re-synthesized is higher and is proportional to the number of carbohydrates we ingest in 24 hours. After exercising, the type of carbohydrates you should consume will depend on the type of exercise, the intensity, the time you have been exercising, and the time until the next session, among other factors.
You have already seen that if you want to improve your sports performance through nutrition, you will have to pay attention to different factors. In addition, the guidelines you follow must be personalized, since many elements intervene when determining sports performance.