The role of functional foods in sports

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The role of functional foods in sports
The role of functional foods in sports

Learn how to create a functional diet on your own without the help of a nutritionist. To achieve serious sports results, athletes need to properly organize a nutrition program in accordance with a certain stage of the annual training cycle. Only in this case can one count on the achievement of the set goals. Today you will find out what functional foods you need to use in sports.

Functional foods in sports: what are they?

Clarification of what functional nutrition is

The concept of "functional products" implies the presence of additional functions (health prevention, body improvement, etc.) in food products. Moreover, it is important to remember that all the positive properties of nutrition must be scientifically proven. There are a large number of brands on the market today that claim to be functional products. However, their functionality has not been proven, and due to their unbalanced composition, they can even harm the body.

When choosing functional foods in sports, the utmost care must be taken. One study found that the majority of people looking to lose weight often prefer products with a sporty packaging. So the manufacturer tries to show that his products are intended for active people and are healthy.

Unfortunately, most often the effect of their use is the exact opposite, because such products can contain a large amount of fast carbohydrates. There are several categories of products that are functional:

  1. Foods with a minimum amount of sugar, cholesterol, fat and sodium - thanks to them, when using a strict dietary nutrition program, you can control the satiety process and reduce the risk of diabetes, heart and vascular system diseases, and obesity.
  2. Foods with a high content of natural ingredients - these include, for example, cereals fortified with micronutrients and plant fibers.
  3. Foods containing nutrients that are normally missing - breads with a high content of folate or drinks containing medicinal herbs.
  4. Probiotic dairy products - contain special types of bacteria that improve the functioning of the digestive system.
  5. Foods that can meet the energy needs of athletes - this group includes sports supplements enriched with electrolytes, micronutrients, amines and other nutrients.

The principles of building functional nutrition in sports

Schematic representation of the principles of functional nutrition

Athletes' nutrition should be based on the principles of balanced and rational nutrition:

  • the indicator of the energy value of the diet must be selected in accordance with the expenditure of calories, and this depends on the age, gender and intensity of physical activity;
  • the diet should be balanced in all trace elements and nutrients;
  • it is necessary to choose rational forms of nutrition in accordance with the tasks;
  • correct distribution of the diet throughout the day in strict accordance with the training and competition regimes.

Scientists have found that energy costs are the sum of several quantities, for example, basic metabolism, intensity of physical activity, etc. The indicator of basic metabolism, in turn, is influenced by the gender, age of the athlete and his anthropological parameters.

It is important to remember that the main metabolism also depends on seasonal changes, because at different stages of the training process, physical activity changes. Basal metabolism increases significantly with increased stress. It is generally accepted that the average basal metabolic rate for men (body weight is 70 kilos) is 1,700 calories, and for women (body weight is 60 kilos) - 1,400 calories.

The second component of basic metabolism is the amount of calories the body needs to process food. Scientists call this food thermogenesis, and it averages about ten percent of the total energy spent throughout the day.

The last important element, in turn, is the loss of energy during exercise. The minimum indicator in this case is one third of all energy costs, which are determined by the intensity, duration, character, psycho-emotional state and climatic conditions. On average, the cost of physical activity can range from 800 to 1000 calories. It should also be remembered that while participating in competitions, energy expenditures can increase by up to 30 percent in comparison with the training process.

The concept of a balanced diet is based on the correct ratio of nutrients based on the functioning of the enzymatic system. This allows you to take into account the sum of all metabolic processes and chemical transformations of substances. The correctness of this concept is confirmed by biological laws that determine the processes of food assimilation at any stage of the development of living beings.

The principles of nutritional organization of athletes developed by scientists from the point of view of nutrient balance do not differ significantly from the recommendations for the rest of the population. Thus, an athlete's diet should contain 0.8–1 grams of fat and four grams of carbohydrates per gram of protein compounds. If we translate these indicators into a percentage of calories, then the results will be as follows - 14/30/56 (protein compounds / fats / carbohydrates).

However, it is not enough to adhere to only the correct ratio of nutrients for good nutrition. An equally important factor in this situation is the special structure of the use of all basic nutrients. For example, to provide an athlete's body with all the important amines in the diet, about 60 percent of the protein compounds must be of animal origin. 65 to 70 percent of carbohydrates should be polysaccharides, 5 percent are plant fibers, and mono and disaccharides should be 25-30 percent. As for fats, 25 to 30 percent of this nutrient should be polyunsaturated fatty acids (of plant origin).

At certain stages of the training process, to meet the needs of the body, it is necessary to use a certain orientation, for example, carbohydrate, protein-carbohydrate, etc. So, for example, during the mass-gaining period and to increase power parameters, it is necessary to focus on protein food. If the main goal of an athlete is to increase endurance, then carbohydrates should form the basis of the diet.

It is quite obvious that proper nutrition also presupposes the presence of a certain dietary regimen. First of all, this concerns the distribution of food intake throughout the day in full accordance with the training process. The frequency of meals should be at least four at intervals of 2.5-3 hours. It is very important to remember that there should be a break of at least 60 minutes between the end of the meal and the start of the training session. After completing the training, food should be taken no earlier than 40 minutes later.

Functional foods in sports: scientific evidence

Rack with products for functional nutrition

For the first time the concept of "functional food" in sports appeared in 1989 after a series of studies conducted by Japanese scientists. It means the regular use of special-purpose products, not only natural, but also artificial, with certain properties. This will make it possible to compensate for the deficiency of all nutrients necessary for the normal functioning of the body under conditions of strong physical exertion, without which it is difficult to imagine modern sports.

functional food in sports allows you to regulate the physiological functions of the body, biochemical processes, as well as the psychosocial behavior of athletes. All these food products can be roughly divided into functional and enriched in accordance with additional ingredients and their presence in the initial product. For example, juices always contain a certain set of vitamins, and if trace elements are added to these products, they will be considered fortified.

For food fortification, those nutrients are used that, for various reasons, are absent or insufficient to meet the needs of the body, depending on the region of residence. It can be not only trace elements, but also antioxidants, plant fibers, etc.

Also, natural foods should be considered functional foods in sports, which contain a sufficient amount of nutrients. The main difference between functional products and dietary supplements is the form in which nutrients will be delivered to the body. When it comes to delivery in the form of drugs similar to drugs, say, tablets, then it is necessary to talk about dietary supplements. In addition, the active ingredients in supplements can be several times higher than the physiological needs of the body. Today, functional foods in sports most often contain about a hundred ingredients that have functional properties.

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