Nutrition and sport - how do I do it right?

 The wildest recommendations are still floating around. But do people who exercise regularly need a special diet at all?

Do female athletes need to eat differently?

No, because a well-balanced and nutritious diet provides all of the nutrients needed. Sport merely raises your calorie and nutrient needs. The main issue is that there is frequently a lack of balance. Our diet should consist of roughly 55% carbs, 30% fat, and 15% protein, yet many people consume too much fat and not enough carbohydrates. Low-fat alternatives are best, but polyunsaturated fatty acids should not be overlooked. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are present in linseed oil and fatty marine fish, for example, and are essential (i.e. required).

But training increases the protein requirement, doesn't it?

Some fitness studios promote milkshakes and protein bars as a way to meet your increased protein needs, but you can safely avoid them. We do require additional protein to create muscle, although this demand is frequently overstated. Women who do not participate in sports require 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, endurance athletes require 1.2 to 1.5 grams, and strength athletes require up to 1.8 grams - levels that can readily be consumed with cheese and other dairy products. On most products, the protein content is listed.

Do female athletes have different needs than active men?

Women, on the whole, require fewer calories because they have fewer muscles and consume less energy, so smaller portions are the norm. Furthermore, while training helps to maintain bone stability, female athletes should still consume calcium-rich foods like dairy products to avoid osteoporosis (brittle bones due to decalcification). Furthermore, due to exercise and menstruation, female athletes require more iron. Red meat is the best source of this trace element. Do you ever feel drowsy, exhausted, or pale? This could be a sign of an iron shortage, which reduces the body's ability to absorb oxygen. Make sure your doctor checks it out!

How can vegetarians meet their iron requirements?

Although the old spinach myth survives, it is unfounded. Iron is found in all green vegetables (as well as mushrooms and legumes), but the body does not absorb enough of it. If you're severely low on iron, you can take iron tablets instead. You may need to try a few different things because some people handle some products better than others. Take iron with orange juice because vitamin C boosts iron absorption in the body. Milk, on the other hand, makes absorption worse.

Do you lose more than just fluids when you sweat?

Absolutely, because sweat causes the body to lose important minerals like magnesium and calcium. Mineral water is a simple solution for thirst and mineral loss. Many athletes consume tap water or tea made from tap water, which is deficient in magnesium and calcium. Check out the labels! Magnesium levels should be at least 100 milligrams per liter, whereas calcium levels should be at least 300 milligrams per liter. You're already amply supplied with one to two liters every day.

Isn't it easier to turn to dietary supplement pills?

Perhaps easier, but not always more sensible. Food contains not only vitamins, minerals, and trace elements, but also fiber, phytochemicals, and, most importantly, pleasure. Before reaching for the pills and powders, try to improve your diet. If this doesn't work, a vitamin swap normally doesn't hurt, but it can waste a lot of money. 

Tip: If you suspect you have a deficit, go to the doctor and have them checked out. You can then take the matching vitamin as a tablet if necessary.

 hour of training, mineral water is quite enough. Sports drinks provide the necessary carbohydrates for intensive and long sessions - even during training. During a half-marathon or even a marathon, the body can even go limp without replenishment because the glycogen stores in the muscles and liver are no longer sufficient to meet the demand. In such cases, energy bars or bananas, for example, can help you reach the finish line. 

Tip: Simple muesli bars with a high carbohydrate and low-fat content also provide an energy kick.

Which foods are especially recommended?

The sporty classic is bananas with their high carbohydrate content. Plus plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. A fit top supplier in many respects is muesli with low-fat milk, among other things because of the high biological value of the protein combination (important for vegetarians!). Potatoes are preferable to pasta because they contain minerals and trace elements. Unless you go for the whole-grain variety. Plus: mineral water.

Can I eat properly at lunchtime if I go to sports in the evening?

That is dependent on the amount of time between eating and exercising. Avoid foods that stay in your stomach for more than five hours if you go to the cafeteria at 1 p.m. and then to your workout at 6 p.m., such as schnitzel, pizza with oily toppings, roasts, and beans, or mushrooms. The stomach residence duration for tuna and herring might be as long as nine hours. This puts the body under stress and saps its strength.

What do I have to keep in mind if I want to lose weight?

You must expend more energy than you produce. When you exercise, you establish a calorie deficit in your energy balance; if you don't eat, this shortfall will persist. Furthermore, strength training, in particular, helps to prevent muscle loss during a diet phase. This benefits us in two ways: Muscles provide strong curves while also increasing your basal metabolic rate. Sufficient protein intake during weight loss keeps muscles from becoming calorie consumers.

Can I eat after training if I want to lose weight?

Yes, because the body consumes energy for adaptation and repair activities, the afterburn effect occurs. Delaying meals does not improve fat burning. On the contrary, because the muscles are most responsive to carbs soon after exercising, you will recover more slowly and perform worse. 

Tip: To maximize calorie consumption and avoid feeling hungry after training with a clear conscience, exercise for a quarter-hour longer.

And if I don't want to lose weight - what do I eat?

After a workout, a combination of carbohydrates and protein is great for replenishing energy stores and improving athletic performance. Potatoes with egg, for example, or a tiny steak with a lot of potatoes and vegetables are both delicious. By the way, it makes no difference whether we've done some mild endurance sports, yoga, or strength training before or not.

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