As we all know, a healthy diet represents the basis of a correct lifestyle and allows our body to function at its best. Physical exercise and sporting activity are also essential for maintaining psycho-physical balance and for safeguarding health both in the short and long term. In sports, where the energy demand is aimed at improving performance, a correct diet can become a great help and in many cases it is an integral part of the athletic preparation itself.
First of all we must keep in mind that there are different types of sport and that depending on the one practiced by each individual, different nutritional and energy needs are indicated.
Aerobic sports, also called endurance or "endurance" sports, are what we define as having a high energy expenditure. It is low intensity physical activity, which requires a respiratory rate that is not too high but which must be maintained for long periods of time (for example jogging). Those who practice this type of sport need large stores of carbohydrates in the muscle to provide the necessary energy during prolonged efforts. To maintain good muscle mass, a moderate additional dose of protein is also necessary, but only in athletes who practice long-lasting training 2-3 times a week, in addition to competitions. Due to the high energy requirement required, it is also necessary to pay close attention to nutrition before, during and after training / competition, to promote the effectiveness of the training.
Anaerobic sports, also called "power", are those that require intense effort in a short period of time. Typical examples are fast running (100 meters), weight lifting and heavy athletics. For these activities it is necessary to have a greater regard to the protein intake as proteins promote the development of muscle mass, but also its regeneration: in fact, strength sports determine a certain degree of muscle "stress and damage". A good portion of carbohydrates must not be missing, without which the body would be forced to affect the protein reserves. Obviously, for a complete diet, the supply of fats is also important and these must be taken in adequate quantities so as to support the physiological functions of our body but not in excess, thus risking to accumulate as adipose tissue.
In reality, all the activities carried out during the day (walking, doing housework, studying, working, etc.) involve a certain use of energy by the body; however, carrying out a specific sport activity on a regular basis (running, swimming, dancing ...) increases the daily energy expenditure, determines a better metabolic efficiency by mobilizing the reserves of substrates (especially lipids and carbohydrates), modifies the body composition and increases the efficiency of the system muscular and cardiorespiratory.
Physical exercise involves the loss, through sweat, of water and mineral salts that must necessarily be reintegrated through proper hydration and adequate nutrition for the needs of each individual. Proper nutrition is certainly an essential aspect for achieving optimal physical fitness and it is precisely through the consumption of the right foods that we also take the nutrients useful for carrying out physiological functions, promoting an increase in muscle mass, optimizing physical work and replenishing finally, the losses due to the physical and mental stress of the athlete; therefore it is necessary to become aware of the food choices we make every day.
For an accurate and personalized definition it is always advisable to consult a specialist (doctor, dietician or nutritionist). It is good to keep in mind that an inadequate calorie or nutrient intake can compromise physical strength and resistance to fatigue, create unfavorable metabolic alterations for growth and muscle tone, significantly damaging the quality of performance, growth (in children and adolescents) and health in general.
It should be emphasized that there are no “magic” foods capable of improving sports performance, but there are only good or bad eating habits that can affect physical performance and the general state of well-being of our body. A healthy and balanced diet is characterized by the quality, quantity and frequency with which we eat certain foods.
It is clear that linking "eating well" with regular physical activity brings a series of advantages, first of all activation of metabolism: an active metabolism means having an organism that works at full capacity in the consumption of calories, in the elimination of toxins, in the repair of damaged tissues, in the rapidity and mental brilliance and in the ability to express itself from a physical point of view.
So here are some simple tips that can help you build good habits:
- Allow 2-3 hours between meals and training;
- Consume fruit and vegetables every day to promote an adequate intake of minerals, fibers and vitamins;
- Drink before, during and after sports;
- Choose healthy foods, preferably from organic farming, without preservatives, additives or other potentially harmful substances.
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