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How should sports nutrition be?

Monday, September 6, 2021

Nutrition; It is an important part of active people and athletes’ preparation for exercise.

Sports nutrition is a special nutrition program prepared to improve both the training and athletic performance of the athletes according to the sports they do.

Whether you are walking, pilates, doing fitness or running a marathon… Whichever sport you do, you should eat healthy to maintain health, increase endurance, good concentration and attention, and provide maximum benefit from sports.

How should sports nutrition be?

The performance increases positively when the athlete is accompanied by appropriate training and healthy nutrition with a proper lifestyle.

Among the factors that affect the person’s diet, the physical activity of the person is also important. The type, duration and frequency of the sport, which is also done by people with active sports life, also affect the diet and nutritional requirements.

It gives importance to the type, amount and time of the liquids and macronutrients the athlete receives. In addition, it determines how and how much vitamin, mineral and supplement supplements should be used.

Energy and nutrient requirements vary according to age, gender, weight, dye, sport and frequency.

Regardless of which sport you are doing, you should have a nutrition program according to the sport you do.

Why is nutrition important for sports?

Nutritional needs are determined depending on the age of the athlete, his physical competence, the level of competition of the field he plays, the environment, the duration of the competition, the time between matches and many other factors.

  • Whatever sport you do, you will perform better in that sport or activity.
  • You will prevent injuries, you will have more concentration.
  • You will feel less fatigue after training.

Proper nutrition; By providing energy balance, it enables body weight management and the body to function optimally.

You can be more active if you get enough energy with foods, and if you get enough protein, you can protect your muscle mass.

Ideal body weight and energy requirement for athletes

The weight of the athlete affects the amount of fat in his body, the amount of lean tissue, the mass of fluid, his success in sports, speed, strength and endurance.

It would not be correct to evaluate only the weight of the athletes; body fat amount and muscle mass should also be measured and evaluated.

Energy Requirement Increases While Doing Sports!

  • Energy and nutrient needs of people who do sports are more.
  • The energy requirement increases depending on the intensity and duration of the activity.
  • The intensity, duration and shape of the exercise directly affect our nutritional needs.
  • The athlete should include the energy required to be fed and enough fluid intake.
  • The body spends more calories during the exercise compared to the moment of rest. Therefore, the energy and nutrient needs of athletes are higher.
  • The diet of athletes in general; It should be rich in carbohydrates, normal in protein and slightly below normal in fat content. Since the fluid loss of athletes is higher than normal individuals, the amount of water drunk should be increased.
  • The calorie requirement of each athlete varies.

Important food sources for athletes


  • It is an indispensable nutrient of a diet and the main energy source of the body. It is also the most important component of the athlete’s diet.
  • Complex carbohydrate sources such as rice, pasta, bread, vegetables and legumes should be included in the nutrition program of athletes.
  • Carbohydrates are stored as glycogen in muscle and liver.
  • It is a ‘fast energy source’ for glycogen muscle activity.
  • During exercise, glycogen stored in the muscles is used.
  • Thanks to the high-carb diet, athletes can increase these glycogen stores 1.5-2 times.
  • Excessive glycogen stores in athletes means increased durability.
  • Muscles usually store enough glycogen for 60-90 minutes of exercise, and carbohydrates are consumed as needed between exercises, and these stores are renewed.
  • As a result of inadequate carbohydrate consumption, the muscles get tired and performance is negatively affected.
  • Too low or depleted glycogen stores in athletes may cause chronic fatigue or superfluous.
  • Therefore, most of the daily intake of energy is carbohydrate sources. 60-65% of the energy taken daily in athletes should come from carbohydrate source foods.
  • In endurance sports, this value can be up to 70%.
  • The amount of carbohydrates to be taken can also be calculated based on body weight.
  • 5-10 g / kg carbohydrate can be taken daily depending on the duration and intensity of the exercise.
  • Foods and beverages rich in carbohydrates should be consumed before, during and after prolonged exercises.


  • The most important task of protein for people who exercise is; muscle building and repair.
  • Protein needs can be met from animal products such as milk and dairy products, meat, eggs, fish and chicken and legume sources.
  • Protein requirement of seniors and athletes is about 1.5-2 times higher than inactive people.
  • 12-15% of daily calories should come from protein.
  • According to body weight; The recommended amount for endurance athletes is 1.2-1.4 g / kg daily, and the recommended amount for strength athletes is 1.6-1.7 g / kg.
  • The amount of protein that the athlete needs; It depends on gender, fitness level, type of exercise, body weight, total daily energy requirement and carbohydrate consumption.
  • During exercise, protein is also used as an energy source, especially when carbohydrate stores are very low, which is important for athletes because of their duties.
  • The protein consumed more than the body needs is used as energy and stored as fat.
  • Excessive protein consumption causes calcium and fluid loss from the body.


  • It is the main energy source of the body.
  • In order for the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K to be taken into the body and digestive problems are not experienced, the source of fat must be taken into the body.
  • In athletes, 20-25% of the daily energy should come from fat.
  • Performance may be adversely affected due to the decrease in carbohydrate consumption with increasing fat consumption.
  • However, it is also stated in studies that the fat intake below 15% negatively affects performance and blood lipids.

Vitamins and Minerals

  • A diet consisting of various foods that meet the increasing energy needs of athletes also provides sufficient vitamins and minerals.
  • Especially the importance of B group vitamins is more in athletes.
  • B group vitamins such as thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and biotin support energy formation during exercise.
  • Folic acid and vitamin B12 are important for protein synthesis, tissue making and repair.
  • Studies have shown that excess protein intake has no effect on improving exercise performance.
  • Minerals also play an important role in performance.
  • When exercise intensity increases, the body’s sodium, potassium, calcium and iron stores are affected.
  • Mineral sources are effective in nerve conduction, muscle contraction and oxygen transport in athletes. The most important minerals for athletes are calcium and iron.
  • Calcium is responsible for blood clotting, nerve conduction and heart beat control.
  • Milk, yogurt, cheese, oilseeds, legumes and green leafy vegetables are among the calcium source foods.
  • Iron mineral is responsible for transporting oxygen to the muscles. Oxygen is needed during energy production. If there is insufficient iron mineral in the blood, the athlete may get tired quickly.
  • That’s why iron mineral is important for athletes.
  • Liver, red meat, green leafy vegetables, molasses dried fruits and legumes are among the foods containing iron mineral.


  • Another important issue in sports nutrition is fluid consumption.
  • Fluid consumption should never be neglected during exercise.
  • Water constitutes 55-70% of the weight depending on the amount of muscle in the body. It was also observed that the athletes who maintain their body fluid balance during exercise also have higher performance.
  • Loss of water (dehydration) from the body can reduce the performance of the athlete.
  • To ensure good hydration, the personal fluid requirements must be known.
  • In order to maintain body fluid balance, athletes should consume 400-600 ml of fluid 2-3 hours before exercise; It is recommended to drink 150-350 ml of water every 15-20 minutes before and after exercise.
  • Preferred sports drinks should contain 4-8% carbohydrates and these drinks should be consumed in exercises over 1 hour.
  • The amount of fluid lost with sweat is higher than normal individuals.
  • It should be well determined which beverages will be used in what amount to replace the lost water.

Points to be considered in nutrition before sports;

  • Food and drinks provide the necessary fuel for our body.
  • Athletes need to pay attention to food and beverage choices, since they need more energy.
  • The timing of feeding with the selection of food and drink positively affects training and competition performance.
  • Energy is stored in the muscles.
  • Food should be easy to digest before sports.
  • New trials on foods and beverages should not be made.
  • Since the digestion of proteins and fats is slow, it should be consumed less and complex carbohydrates should be preferred.
  • Foods with high fiber content such as raw vegetables and fruits, legumes should be avoided.
  • Vegetable dishes that can make gas, such as cabbage, cauliflower, should not be eaten.
  • Eat before the competition should be eaten slowly and thoroughly chewed.
  • New foods should not be tried a day or two before the competition. A newly tried food and drink; nausea can cause negative consequences such as cramps and diarrhea.
  • Consume a main meal 3-4 hours before exercising.
  • Have a snack half an hour to an hour before sports.
  • You should consume enough liquid before sports and drink approximately 500- 550 ml of water. Thus, we can prevent diseases that may occur as a result of heat loss due to heat loss.

Points to be considered in nutrition after sports;

  • Muscles are damaged during high intensity exercises.
  • Consuming the right food and drink at the right time after training decreases muscle damage, making the athlete ready for the next workout and allowing it to recover faster.
  • After doing sports, you should get quality protein to repair tissues and replenish tanks. For this, instead of protein powders; Take advantage of quality proteins in meat, eggs, milk and dairy products.
  • Adequate complex carbohydrate consumption after exercise stimulates the re-synthesis of muscle glycogen. Eat enough protein with complex carbohydrates to better tolerate it, especially after exercise.
  • Foods such as essential amino acid, quality protein, meat, milk, eggs within 3 hours after exercise increase muscle protein synthesis.
  • If you consume carbohydrate and protein together after strength training, it supports your muscle tissue. It affects your body composition positively.
  • After the exercise, you can consume milk fruit at the snack. In this way, you take carbohydrates and protein together and support your muscle tissue.
  • Fluid intake after exercise is very important for electrolyte balance.
  • You should add fluid according to the body weight you have lost, and drink about 200-300ml of water every 20 minutes.

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