Our food provides us with nutrient-filled and disease-fighting components which are essential for our growth, development and regeneration. Also, it enables the body to maintain the basic physiological functions by supplying it with energy. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to consider one’s nutritional needs and approaches prior, during and post workout for everyone that participates in or deals with any kind of sport. Thus, not only does an athlete’s health and immune system benefit from a proper diet and lifestyle, but also it directly influences the sports achievements and results which undoubtedly are very highly dependent on a proper diet and nutritional practices. This particularly refers to the young, who are still in a phase of growth and development.
However, the process of segmental analysis of the body composition which is enabled by the body-analyzer determines the individual characteristics. In this way, by painting a clear picture of the amount of muscle mass, fat mass, body fat percentage, as well as the amount of intracellular and extracellular fluid. Our metabolism, which actually maintains normal bodily functions, is also an important information given to us by this type of body analysis, and is especially important and valuable while creating an individual diet plan for an athlete. To sum up, it imposes the need for a specific, personalized and tailored diet plan.
Therefore, the content determines the food as nutritious and protective or not. Anyway, having on mind that the goal of every athlete is the same – to be capable of achieving great results, it is undoubtedly that in addition to hard work, having healthy and quality-food based diet, which will follow a particular plan meticulously developed to meet their needs, can only be another determining factor.
In preparation for a nutritional protocol such as this one, it’s important to watch out for some additional guidelines.
Firstly, the diet plan depends highly on the type of sport itself. According to some nutritionists and dietitians during the preparation for an athlete’s diet plan, there are several important factors, such as: the sport itself, the intensity and manner in which the exercises are performed and the state in which the athlete’s in – active or quiet phase.
Secondly, in addition to increase in energy needs for an athlete in comparison to an average individual from the same gender, age group, body weight and height there are also the proper hydration and sodium intake as a result of their loss during training, a build-up of metabolic byproducts (which lead to an acidic reaction caused by intense muscle work) all in order to prevent lowering of the functional ability and low performance.
Next is having breakfast within the first two hours after waking up. Recent studies suggest that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and this recommendation applies to athletes as well. Regarding these findings, when it comes to the time when it’s best to have your meal, the answer is two hours upon waking up. Actually, this is the meal that is supposed to stop muscle catabolism because the body has wasted its energy during the sleep. Therefore, breakfast is the ideal time to get some carbohydrates in and it is why it is strongly advised not to make the mistake of depriving your body from the main source of energy. You should mainly focus on getting in complex carbohydrates, healthy fats (nuts and seeds; walnuts, peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts etc.), as well as proteins with high biological value (whole eggs, cheese, fish, fermented dairy products etc.).
Furthermore, the important recommendations refer to the question “what to eat prior to and after working out?” Well, not any less valuable is the pre-workout meal that is not supposed to hinder digestion with a large volume of heavy food, which is exactly why the choice of this anti catabolic meal is important as is the time of its consumption. It is said that an hour and half to two hours is the ideal time to consume your meal before working out, and the goal is adequate energy all throughout the workout. That is why the choice should always be narrowed down to those carbohydrates with a low-glycemic index (GI) which is not going to lead to rapid increase, and then a sudden decrease of blood sugar levels, which on the other hand will prevent a so called compensatory hypoglycemia which manifests itself with a feeling of grogginess and fatigue. Moreover, always combine these foods with fresh vegetables (whole wheat pasta, pastry, brown rice, oats, quinoa, buckwheat).
When it comes to the protein and fats amount, they should be lower so that they don’t slow down the digestion, the studies show. As for the post workout meal, it is highly recommended to replenish the glycogen storage, which is depleted as a result of the hard and strenuous workout session. Consequently, that is why we call the post workout meal anti catabolic whose main role is muscle retention.
Another important characteristic for this meal is that it’s separated into two portions with a different time of consumption. It’s advised that the first portion should contain simple carbohydrates like fruits (banana, raisins, dates etc.), and the second portion should be a complete meal with lots of protein, fresh salad and healthy fats.
Finally, you should have a high protein dinner to allow a good amount of amino acids to fill the muscles up during sleep! Dinner is a meal in which the main focus should not be on carbohydrates (except those coming from vegetables), and the reason is because the consumption of these leads to storing them as excess fat at the end of the day. Whether it comes to decreasing your body fat percentage, or building muscle mass, it is preferred that anyone who trains recreationally or professionally has to have a specific diet plan mainly because everyone has individual micro and macronutrient needs to support their training demands, the type of sport they are involved in, the segmental structure/composition of their body and the given task say the experts.