The best fats in an athlete’s diet are those unsaturated, from vegetable oils, especially olive oil, and from oily fish such as salmon or tuna. Nuts, hazelnuts, and avocados are other good sources of monounsaturated fats, but fat consumption is not recommended on the days when you are expecting intense physical effort.
What are some general rules to be applied?
One of the most frequently asked questions is how long before and after the end of a workout, a meal should be served?
It is generally preferable that the meal not to be immediately served before training, because while the muscles are working, the stomach is simultaneously occupied with digestion of the food, often resulting in a gastrointestinal discomfort during physical activity. Ideally, it would be to leave an interval of 1-3 hours after eating and starting a workout, depending on how the body tolerates food (you should know it). When choosing to talk about the meal after training, you need to know that protein and carbohydrates become even more vital. The human body uses energy deposits in the form of glycogen stored in the muscles to provide the necessary energy during training, and after the end of the effort, these deposits have to be rebuilt. So, as soon as possible after training, make sure you have a meal composed of protein and carbohydrates in the first 15-30 minutes, and the next normal meal is 3-4 hours thereafter.
So what’s an athlete eating?
Carbohydrates. Due to the fact that carbohydrates are needed for all processes that take place in the body, it should be a major part of an athlete’s diet: whole grains, oats, brown rice, fresh or dried fruits, carbohydrates should form about 40-65% of the diet. Transformed into glucose, then stored in muscles as glycogen, carbohydrates are the most important element in the proper nutrition of an athlete. In order to be transformed into energy stored in the muscles, it is necessary that up to 70% of the daily requirement of calories to be provided by carbohydrates. A diet rich in bread, pasta, cereals, and vegetables and fiber-rich fruits will provide the needs of an athlete. Sugar and flour carbohydrates convert faster into energy but can contribute to body dehydration, so they are not recommended before an intense effort.
Proteins. Athletes need more protein as a normal man for muscular recovery. In a normal man’s diet, protein is only 10-15%, but for an athlete, they have to form 30%: dairy, beef or pork, chicken, fish, eggs, and vegetables. Nothing must be fried, cooked, or baked. Rapid absorption of milk proteins contributes actively to the maintenance of muscle tissue. Athletes are advised to avoid protein dietary supplements because they may affect kidney function. Besides milk, the best sources of protein include lean meats, eggs, nuts, and seeds.
Greases. Not all fats are harmful. Athletes have to include them in their diet because they produce energy. However, specialists recommend moderation and only unsaturated fats: olive oil, peanuts, nuts, avocados or from oily fish such as salmon or tuna.