If you practice sport, following a proper training is an indispensable requirement to achieve success, but applying you thoroughly in each session is not enough. What's more, you can increase the risk of injury if you don't go along with your diet routines appropriate to the effort. The menu must provide the energy you need to put yourself like a bull, but not only that: the lack of certain nutrients favors weaknesses that can cause effects that go from the wear of joints to bone fracture, through deficiencies that They decrease physical performance. The good news is that they can be prevented with antioxidants, minerals, vitamins...
The experts in physical activity and health Anna Bach-Faig and Laura de la Zarza have collected the details that any sport lover should know in his book Feeding in physical activity and Sport (UOC, 2019). The experts and other dietitians-nutritionists detail to BUENAVIDA the keys to detect the failures we make at the table and that can ruin the countless hours dedicated to training.
Water, the lubricant of the joints
One of the great mistakes that an athlete can make is to drink little, an attitude that sometimes reaches the extreme of ignoring the thirst. "Both the heat produced by the muscular effort and the one generated by the meteorology induce a loss of liquids and minerals through sweat," says the teacher of the master in nutrition in physical activity and sport at the Open University of Catalonia ( UOC) Laura de la Zarza. And explains: "When exercising, water cools the body and gives body to the blood, vital to provide nutrients to muscle cells and then eliminate lactic acid. But also, and this is not always present, lubricates the joints. " That is, a dehydrated muscle is cannon fodder to break as soon as the intensity of the effort is increased, for example, in a final sprint.
"If you also consider the role of water in maintaining the concentration of electrolytes, we find that dehydration puts at risk nerve transmission, muscle contraction and regulation of pH levels, and generates an increase in spending Heart, "adds the expert. And do not wait for the thirst to appear to give the first sip of the liquid: "This mechanism appears when the organism has already lost between 1 and 2% of its body weight," warns the Bush's skis. And in general, men need to hydrate more than women.
But how much is there to drink to ensure that we do not break? "Between 50 and 100 milliliters of liquid, if possible every 15 or 20 minutes, and of course, it is necessary to arrive at the well-hydrated competition. It is recommended between 5 and 7 milliliters per kilo in the four hours before the test, something more if the urine is dark or the desire for urination is not present in the previous two hours, "he says.
Sodium, a fundamental electrolyte
Publicity has turned magnesium into an obsession that reverberates in the heads of many athletes but, paradoxically, its scarcity in the organism is an uncommon phenomenon. The same cannot be said of sodium, a mineral that we usually ingest with salt, a condiment from which the Spaniards eat almost 10 grams a day. "The most common electrolytic imbalance in endurance sports is hyponatremia, a concentration of sodium in blood below 135 millimoles (a measure of the quantity of a chemical) per liter", when normal are between 135 and 145, Warns of the bush. "It is very serious and the consequences can be fatal. His symptoms include confusion, disorientation, swelling and edema in the hands and ankles, and, in the most severe cases, cerebral edema and respiratory failure, "he adds.
Hyponatremia may result from excessive or prolonged sweating, but may also appear to be rehydrated with water only. "Water alone is absorbed worse and is eliminated faster by urine. In addition, with it we do not reput the minerals that are lost with sweat. Instead, if you drink water more electrolytes (mineral salts) and carbohydrates, the body rehydrates better and tends to a better blood volume recovery. " Some resistance athletes ensure these electrolytes by ingesting capsules or salts gels, others are decanted by isotonic drinks. "They usually carry carbohydrates and sodium, a combination that is not difficult to digest and that improves absorption compared to water alone in its passage through the intestinal membrane," describes the expert.
The temperature of the beverage is also not a trivial matter, as it "influences the absorption capacity. Between 10 and 15 º C, gastric emptying is faster. Below 10 º C slows down the absorption of the drink, while if it is hotter than 20 º C is not appetizing, " explains the Bush's skis. On the other hand, not all products that are sold as sports drinks are the same, but it is also not difficult to distinguish the most suitable ones. "They must have a concentration of between 0.5 and 0.7 grams of sodium per litre. If a higher salt supply is necessary, it can be supplemented with salts or savoury foods, until reaching concentrations between 0.5 and 1.2 grams per litre.
Antioxidants to improve recovery
Sport is health, but during and after vigorous exercise, reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (RONS) are created, which have harmful effects on the organism. The best known in the long term is premature ageing, which is manifested externally in a more wrinkled than normal skin. Inside, an invisible consequence is the deterioration of the joints. "The body has its own antioxidant mechanisms, but it may not be enough. A nutrition (including via supplementation) rich in antioxidants--a whole universe in the field of nutrition--has become a common practice among athletes as a means to (theoretically) reduce oxidative stress, promote recovery, and improve "Performance," says the director of the Master of Nutrition in physical activity and sports at the UOC, Anna Bach Faig.
But also the vocal of food of the official College of Pharmacists of Barcelona believes that it is important not to lose the north with the antioxidants and to ingest quantities much higher than the necessary ones. "They do not report benefits and may interfere with training adaptations that improve performance and promote health," he warns. In other words: The body is trained to produce greater amounts of its own antioxidants, you just have to let him put the batteries.
Kicking multivitamins like candy is not a good idea either. "The amount of a specific vitamin varies among individuals, depending on factors such as body size, growth rate, physical activity, and pregnancy. Supplementation with vitamin C is common, not only for its antioxidant capacity, but also for its role in the biosynthesis of collagen, present in the skin, bones or connective tissue. It is also essential for the synthesis of carnitine, which is very abundant in the muscle and whose role appears to be to facilitate the transport of long chain lipids to the mitochondria. Finally, it allows the synthesis of the catecholamines, necessary for the glucogenólisis of the muscle, "points out Bach Faig. But that your neighbor, half your football team and that actor take vitamin C supplements does not mean that there is scientific consensus as to its usefulness. "It does not necessarily increase the ability to develop a physical exercise, but it does reduce the effects of exercise-induced muscle damage," concludes the expert.
Lowered vitamin D, a pathway to bone fracture
Despite the bombing of calcium-enriched foods and hundreds of supplements containing the mineral, the fact is that it is rare for calcium to be scarce in a young person, athlete and with a normal diet. The real Achilles heel of this profile of people is in vitamin D, which is necessary to absorb the mineral and whose levels are alarmingly low in much of the Spanish population.
"It is achieved by taking blue fish (such as salmon and conger) or exposing ourselves to sunlight. But between being taken less fish of the due and that each time we spend less time in exteriors, or we carry sunscreen when we do it, we do not always synthesize the necessary levels of vitamin D. In the long term, the result is that bones weaken and increase the risk of stress fractures, " says Sanus Vitae Dietitian-nutritionist Maria Martínez Ferrán.
To such an extent, according to a recent study conducted by Pedro Teixeira, of the Department of Rehabilitative Medicine of the Hospital de Tondela-Viseu, in Portugal, it is advisable to supplement the players in parallel 40 (the southern Mediterranean, Including Spain, Portugal or Italy) with this micronutrient during the winter months to reduce the risk. It can even improve your muscular performance.
Little iron, low performance sports
This element is crucial for the proper functioning of hemoglobin, which is responsible for transporting oxygen to cells. A healthy person should have levels above 12 grams per deciliter between women and 13.5 in the case of men. This amount is important because, during the effort, the cells demand more fuel, more oxygen, and it is not the same to send it in a Ferrari than in a hand.
"If the normal blood flow doesn't get enough oxygen, they force the heart to pump faster. Increases the heart rate, fatigue grows and in that state multiplies the risk of injury, either by stress or forgetfulness, "points out Martínez Ferrán. Something as simple as running without just lifting your feet off the ground, because you can't with your soul, multiplies the chances of stumbling into a tunnel and ending your bones on the ground. "The paradox is that many athletes, even with good brands, are accustomed to training with low levels of hemoglobin, something more common in women, more prone to iron deficiency anemia if they have very abundant menstruation."
In addition to eating iron-rich foods such as molluscs, legumes and almonds, "vitamin C must be taken (citrus, strawberries, fresh vegetables...), which is necessary to synthesize iron. And distance the intake of tannins from iron-rich foods, as they hinder absorption. That is, do not drink wine in the food and wait a couple of hours for coffee, tea or chocolate, says dietitian-nutritionist Arantza Muñoz Hernández.
Protein to avoid the risk of laziness and muscle breakdown
While the stalwarts of CrossFit or bodybuilding tend to be charged with this macronutrient, resistance athletes tend to neglect it, prioritizing carbohydrates. "But protein is necessary for muscle formation. If there is no raw material, after a workout the muscle is not properly repaired, is weakened and more prone to break in times of effort, " explains Andrea Ferrandis, dietitian-nutritionist at Sanus Vitae. The risk is that one breaks his muscles and, with them, the possibility of participating, competing and taking home the dream victory.