Carbohydrates - for muscles, nerves and brain
Especially important for all athletes is a sufficient amount of carbohydrates in the diet. From them, glycogen is formed in the body, which gives the muscles energy. The brain and the nerve tracts can cover their energy needs almost only by carbohydrates or dextrose. If not enough carbohydrates are added, they will suffer from concentration and coordination.
Keep blood sugar levels constant
Athletes should therefore keep their glycogen stores stable. Depending on the intensity of the workout, well-filled "glycogen stores" provide energy for 60 to 90 minutes. If you want to create enough reserves, you should consume between 55 and 60 percent of your total energy intake in the form of carbohydrates every day. Better than simple sugars (dextrose, fructose) are the complex carbohydrates contained in all cereal products (bread, cereals, rice, pasta), potatoes, vegetables and fruits. They provide the body with minerals, vitamins and fiber, provide their energy slowly and continuously and keep the blood sugar level constant.
Simple carbohydrates, which should not be taken in too large amounts (maximum ten percent of the daily energy intake), are suitable for the fast energy boost. Competitive athletes can increase the carbohydrate intake temporarily (to about 70 percent) if there is a greater need (for example shortly before a competition). For example, most of them take plenty of noodles on the night before the race, up to two hours before the start of a carbohydrate-rich snack, and during or after exercise carbohydrate-rich drinks (for example, fruit juice spritzer).
Proteins - for muscles and defense
The body needs proteins among other things to build muscle and in its enzyme and defense system. For a sufficient supply, a daily intake of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is sufficient. However, the actual protein intake in Germany is well above this recommendation (between 1.2 and 1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight). Even a slightly higher demand can therefore be met without problems.
If you really want to do something good for your body, you should take a combination of vegetable and animal protein, such as potatoes and eggs, potatoes and milk, or grains and fish. For animal protein suppliers, low-fat products and fish should be preferred.
Minerals - balance in time
In sports, the loss of minerals through the sweat is not insignificant and should be compensated as soon as possible. Sports drinks, especially mineral water, diluted fruit juices (1: 3 - 1: 1) and tea (but no black tea) are suitable for this. Despite these precautions, athletes often have a poor supply of magnesium and iron, which can affect performance.
The reason: Athletes need a lot of iron in the blood for optimal oxygen transport to their muscles. The deficiency can be detected by a blood test and corrected with the appropriate diet.
Vitamins - no topic for recreational athletes
For recreational athletes, an additional vitamin intake via dietary supplements is not necessary. Only with an intensive sportive load (competitive sport) can the use of multivitamin preparations be meaningful.
Snacking - good for low performance
High-carbohydrate and low-fat snacks such as fresh fruit (especially bananas), wholegrain biscuits, dried fruit, wholemeal bread with quark or low-fat sausage or cheese, as well as low-fat milk-based drinks are suitable as snacks. They keep the blood sugar level constant and prevent low levels of performance as well as a lack of concentration. They also supplement the supply of vitamins, minerals and trace elements. But beware: the snacks should not unnecessarily increase the total calorie intake.