Question answer. Sports nutrition. Part 1
What do you recommend to improve athletic performance?
Answer: In addition to a lot of practice, there are two key requirements in sports — energy and concentration. Both are dependent on blood sugar balance. Low blood sugar usually causes fatigue, as well as poor concentration, memory and mood, and carbohydrate cravings. This condition is defined by nutritional deficiencies, which can result from a diet rich in refined carbohydrates and poor in natural foods, and excessive use of stimulants such as cola, coffee, and tea.
To maintain high levels of energy and focus, you should increase your intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and high-quality proteins (lightly cooked, lean chicken and tofu). Eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner plus two snacks per day (say, a handful of seeds or nuts and a piece of fruit, or rice cake with chickpea spread), carbohydrates and proteins in a 2:1 ratio; avoid sugar and drink more water instead of sugary drinks.
Q: What foods have the healthiest carbs and protein, and what are your views on creatine?
Answer: Creatine is a substance that is formed in the body from three amino acids — arginine, methionine and glycine. Not surprisingly, natural meat is rich in them. Creatine is also sold as a supplement and is widely sought after by athletes because it promotes muscle regeneration and recovery after exercise, and increases energy during intense exercise.
Normally, muscle cells get energy by converting adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to adenosine diphosphate (ADP). When ATP stores are depleted, such as during a sprint, creatine can quickly replace it and give the cell time to recharge. Because the muscles can do harder work with extra creatine and also store water, the extra work results in increased muscle mass and muscle strength. Here’s my word of caution — if your husband takes creatine, it’s very important that he drink more water, as some people get high blood pressure if they don’t. Others have diarrhea. While there is clear evidence that creatine can cause these effects, it is ideal for those sports where every second counts. Your husband needs 2 to 5g of creatine per day, although some recommend a 20g «load» for the five days leading up to a competition.
In terms of carbs and protein, ideally your husband should only consume more of what he normally eats, focusing on white meat and fish, limiting red meat; eat plenty of fresh, organic vegetables and fruits and whole grains (brown rice, wholemeal pasta, quinoa, and so on).
Q: What are the best foods and drinks, if any, to consume before a competition to maximize fat burning?
Answer: To burn fat, you must increase the amount of protein you eat and decrease the amount of carbs by eating only whole grain carbs: raw oats, brown rice, wholemeal pasta, quinoa, or sweet potatoes. Aim for the same amount of protein and carbs on your plate.
So, for breakfast, choose skimmed or soy milk, a boiled egg (limit eggs to five a week), or yogurt (for protein) and pair them with a cup of organic oatmeal, a sliced apple, a banana, or two slices of whole grain rye bread ( for carbohydrates). Add a dessertspoon of flaxseeds or pumpkin seeds for essential fats (that don’t interfere with fat burning). For lunch and dinner, pair carbohydrates (cooked rice, sweet corn, broad beans, or couscous) with proteins (tofu or other soy products, cottage cheese, fish, or lentils)—then add double the amount of non-starchy vegetables (broccoli, bean sprouts) , cabbage or tomatoes). This way you don’t overfill your blood with glucose (a carbohydrate breakdown product that our body uses as fuel and converts it to fat if there is an excess), and it helps burn fat and balance energy levels. Don’t eat anything for at least an hour, preferably two, before your workout, but drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. And avoid any coffee, tea, and cola—even diet ones—as stimulants can drastically alter blood sugar levels.
Q: Are isotonic sports drinks the best for walking nutrition?
Answer: It’s just a buzzword, «isotonic». They replace useful minerals lost in excessive sweating — sodium, potassium, magnesium and chlorine. Muscles also use up calcium and magnesium during prolonged exercise. Your blood sugar levels are dropping, so you need a relatively fast release of blood sugar, at least when you’re uphill.
You can make your own mineral-rich energy shake to take with you: coconut water is full of beneficial minerals, grape juice is high in instant sugar, and add apple juice for more energy. I recommend apples when walking and bananas when climbing mountains. Most so-called isotonic drinks are simply glucose with water and a few healthy minerals added. It’s perfectly acceptable and healthy to take an energy shake if you’ve just climbed a mountain, but anyway, I’d stick with other natural «isotonic» foods and drinks.
Question answer. Sports nutrition. Part 2
Source: Adapted from 500 Health and Nutrition Questions and Answers
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