The latest: Israel is moving over to sports nutrition! What does this mean and how do I do it?

By: Miri Haddad, Clinical Dietician

The latest: Israel is moving over to sports nutrition! What does this mean and how do I do it?

Everyone is waking up to the latest trend, and it won’t be disappearing soon . More and more people of all ages who exercise are sticking to a balanced sports diet. The trend is for everyone – marathon runners and professional iron pumpers, body-builders and treadmill runners at the gym, sports class enthusiasts, or YouTube video workout gurus at home. Everyone can benefit from proper sports nutrition – and everyone knows it.

Good sports nutrition affects several areas:

  • Improving performance in the sport activity
  • Preventing tiredness due to depleting glycogen reserves during the workout, through appropriate nutrition before, during and after activity.
  • Reducing muscle damage caused by sports activity.
  • Optimizing immune system function.
  • Proper recovery and protein and carbohydrate synthesis following the workout.

Nutrition highlights for sports enthusiasts:

Fewer calories – worse for the body
It’s important for each athlete to know the appropriate calorie level for maintaining muscle mass in the body while keeping up optimal performance during training. This doesn’t mean consuming a limited number of calories per day. A menu of less than 1500 calories per day over time does not supply the required quantity of vitamins and minerals. Every sports enthusiast must take this into account when dieting to lose weight and lower body fat percentages.

Carbs are not the enemy

Carbohydrates have been given a bad rap. Many people consider them enemy number one for dieting. But if you want to be careful about proper sports nutrition, you’ll have to make carbs your friend. Carbs play a vital role in the menu – they help refill glycogen reserves, maintain high aerobic capability, supply glucose to the brain, and enable muscles and central nervous system activity. Carbs should be an integral part of your daily menu: whole grains, legumes, fruit and vegetables. Aerobics enthusiasts, for example, can get a serving of carbohydrates in the form of energy gel – during the activity or afterward.

Protein for everyone

In the past, protein was considered the best friend of body builders and everyone who envied their impressive physiques. Proteins are still our faithful friends, but today we know that eating protein is vital for all sports enthusiasts. For example, a person who likes to do aerobic workouts can gain from a high protein intake, even though building muscle mass is not her main goal. Protein will maximize her metabolic adaptation to workouts.

Protein in the menu serves as a source for synthesizing contractive and metabolic proteins. It also stimulates structural changes in non-muscle tissue, such as adaptation of tendons and bones.

Your daily menu should include quality proteins that have essential amino acids, such as eggs, fish, and milk products, and plant proteins like legumes and soy products.

Fats are good

The word “fat” suffers from a poor public image, and for this reason, many people avoid eating them. But fat can also be a good thing when eaten in the right quantities for the type and intensity of sports activity. Fats should be included in your daily menu: olive oil, olives, whole raw tahini, walnuts, almonds, and avocado.

The three golden rules for spacing meals throughout the day

Research has shown that proper spacing of meals throughout the day will maintain muscle mass in the body, maximize aerobic ability in workouts, and regulate appetite.

Keep these three golden rules in mind:

  • Make sure to eat a proper meal in the morning, including whole carbohydrate, a satisfying serving of protein, and vegetables.
  • Distribute your calorie load. If it’s high at lunch, divide it up into an additional snack in the afternoon or half an hour/one hour before your workout.
  • The guiding rule for all meals – both main meals and snacks – is to eat quality protein and carbohydrates. Maintain this combination in 4-6 meals per day.