Dietary Guidelines for Sportsmen: What to Eat When Working Out

by Melissa Marzett

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Nutrition for athletes differs from what average people eat due to two main reasons. First of all, active physical training requires more energy than sitting in the office or in industries. Secondly, heavy stress and specific enough requirements to body functionality require a special approach to the type of diet one follows.

The diet for athletes, and especially for those practicing martial arts, should be heavy in calories and high in protein, healthy and varied. It is important to eat the right amount of foods, dosed correctly, and to have adequate rest after training in order to see results. Recovery is impossible without adequate nutrition. Only a balanced diet is able to provide a body with the necessary energy and material for the reproduction of new cells.

A sportsman`s diet should be developed taking into consideration the following:

  • Providing the body with enough calories, microelements and vitamins (the exact caloric needs of each person depend on their specific sports tasks and on their current BMI)

  • The activation and normalization of a metabolic process (biological active substances and different natural additives)

  • Weight control (at different stages, sportsmen are to increase, decrease or keep one`s body weight unchanged

  • Changes in morphological characteristics (muscle gains and the decrease of fatty deposit)

The basics of an athlete’s diet

balanced protein meal

Athletes spend lots of energy to support heart beating, digestion and breathing. Internal parts of a bodywork extra hard during training. If there are not enough nutrient materials, energy imbalance will happen, which lead to inanition of the body.

This is why it is highly important to eat healthy if you are a sportsman. An athlete`s diet has to be balanced and cover energy consumption. Those should be healthy, not too processed, and of natural plant and animal origins.

The qualitative food composition for athletes is to be chosen taking into account personal physical characteristics, peculiarities of an event, and general workloads. But regardless of the exact kind of sport, all sportemen’s diets should contain all the necessary micro and macro elements. Only the necessary caloric content differs.

There is a formula you should strive to achieve in your overall meals: 30% of proteins, 60% of carbohydrates and 10 % of fats. Lest we forget about microelements and vitamins, which can be consumed both through various foods and through nutritional supplements.

Proteins:

Protein is the most important component in any sports nutrition. Its value goes into many different functions of the body.

  • Proteins act as building blocks out of which biological structures are produced (muscle tissue, ligaments, chords, an integral part of bony tissue are made of protein), helping you build mass and recover from injuries;

  • Protein plays a role in catalyzation making biochemical processes million times faster;

  • All the energetic and metabolic reactions running in cells depend on the activity of protein-clinging enzymes;

  • Proteins compose hormones and are growth promoting substance;

  • Proteins accomplish a transport function providing tissues with oxygen and nutrient materials;

  • Take part in immune protection (in point of fact, antibodies are specific protein molecules).

The chief sources of proteins for sportsmen are:

  • Fish (there are aliphatic acids and vitamins in fish apart from proteins);

  • Meat (non-fatty sorts of meat – poultry, rabbit, soft sorts of beef);

  • Eggs (amino acids, which are important for a body let alone fats and vitamins);

  • Milk products (there is a lot of methionine in milk protein, which is an irreplaceable amino acid, which, in its turn, is not produced by a human`s body).

Carbs:

Carbohydrate is a basis for metabolic and energetic processes. Carbohydrate compounds are spent very intensively during physical activity. A complex carbohydrate is more useful to consume for sportsmen. Brown rice, wheat, brown bread, fruit and vegetable contain such. Sugar would be best replaced with honey, where apart from carbohydrates you also have microelements and vitamins. Agave and maple syrups are also better choices than sugar.

Lipids:

Fats is one more source of energy and building blocks, which is a componential part of all cell membrane. Doing hard and slow exercises, an athlete spends more fats. It will be in order to combine animal and vegetable fats in the menu of a sportsman. Speaking about fats of plant origin, they are better to provide in the form of olive oil, butter and fat-free fish contain fats and no-fatty acids.

Menu Examples for Sportsmen (and Sportsladies): 

arnold working out muscles historical photo

Approximate menu of a sportsman (example):

Taking into account the formula of protein, carbohydrates and fats balance, an approximate menu should include:

  • Poultry – 400 g;

  • Eggs – 4-5;

  • Curds – 400 g;

  • Butter – 30 g;

  • Bread – 200 g;

  • Cereals based on grains – 500 g;

  • Fruits – 300 g;

  • Vegetable – 300 g

If you want to pursue a muscle building diet, than your menu has to include an additional source of proteins. Some sportsmen prefer special additives called gainers, amino acids and proteins for protein shakes.

There are dietary guidelines for sportswomen in broad strokes. A source of vegetable fibre, complex carbohydrates and monounsaturate fats are to make up most of the menu. Besides that, split meals are preferable. Breaks between meals should not exceed 3 hours.

An approximate menu for ladies in sports could be as follows:

№1 breakfast: cereals – 100 g and 3 eggs;

№2 breakfast: 0,5 kefir or milk;

Supper: fish 200 g or white poultry meat, rice – 150 g (brown is better), fresh vegetable salad with olive oil;

Brunch: curds – 200 g + nuts;

Dinner: fish (meat) – 200 g, fruits or salad;

Before heading to bed: half-litre of kefir or other cultured milk product.

Take-aways:

A food ration for a sportsman a week ahead has to be compiled in accordance with the same principles. Two conditions only: the food has to be natural and it has to have variety.

Products which should be excluded: sugar, white salt (sea-salt with extra minerals is a better choice), fried, spicy food, mushrooms, alcohol, ready-to-cook food, fruit juices, and low-fat yoghurts (they have added sugar).

Sportsmen should not overeat and should not be hungry. It is strictly forbidden to hurry while eating but to chew slowly and thoughtfully. Also, it is essential to control one`s weight and check on self-feeling let alone focusing on victory.

As long as you follow a good diet, the martial arts you practice will bring you results that much faster. Good luck!


Would you like to start a serious diet and training regime to get strong and able to fight? A beginner’s martial arts camp is the perfect way to learn the ropes. 

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