Athletes require high energy levels, which can be provided by a balanced diet. Go through this Buzzle article for more information about such diets for athletes.
Energy is required for physical activities, and the amount of energy needed is dependent on the type and duration of that activity. From where do we get this energy? It is the food we eat that is stored in the body as energy, which enables us to perform physical activities. As compared to normal people, athletes have to perform tough physical activities. They require higher energy levels, in order to deliver an outstanding performance. To meet this requirement, a balanced diet is necessary.
Energy Requirements of an Athlete
The word ‘athlete’ is specifically used to denote those sportspersons, who are engaged in track and field events; like the ones, which involve jumping, running, and throwing. The energy requirement of a person is the sum total of the basic energy requirement, and the extra energy requirement. The basic energy requirement is calculated according to the body weight of the person. 1.3 calories of energy is needed per kilogram of body weight. If the person weighs 60 kilograms, then his basic energy requirement for a day is 60 x 24 x 1.3 = 1872 calories.
This value does not include the extra energy requirement, which is calculated as per the activities of the person. In case of rigorous training, an athlete needs around 8.5 calories per kilogram of his/her body weight. If the training lasts for three hours, the energy requirement of an athlete with a body weight of 60 kilograms, for that timespan is 3 x 8.5 x 60 = 1530 calories. So the total energy requirement of an athlete, who weighs 60 kilograms, and undergoes training for three hours per day, is 1872 + 1530 = 3402 calories for a single day.
How to Meet the Energy Requirements
Even though most of the foods provide energy to the body, you cannot consume a particular food, throughout the day. As in the case of every human being, athletes too need a balanced diet, which provides around 57% carbohydrates, 30% fats, and 13% proteins. While one gram each of carbohydrates and proteins yield 4 calories respectively, the same amount of fats contain 9 calories.
Now, you can calculate the amount of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins required by the above said athlete. The daily energy requirement is 3402 calories, of which 57% should be carbohydrates, i.e. 1940 calories. Fat requirement is 30% of 3402 calories, which amounts to 1020 calories. Likewise, the amount of proteins needed is 13% of 3402 calories, which is 442 calories.
If one gram of carbohydrate provides 4 calories, the total amount of carbohydrates needed is 1940/4 = 485 grams. In case of fats, the amount is 1020/9 = 113 grams, and the intake of proteins should be 442/4 = 110 grams. In short, an athlete weighing 60 kilograms, and undergoes training for three hours per day, requires around 485 grams of carbohydrates, 113 grams of fat, and 110 grams of protein, on a daily basis.
Apart from the above said elements, a balanced diet for athletes should also contain the necessary vitamins, minerals, water, and dietary fiber. While protein is vital for the growth and repair of muscles and body tissues, carbohydrates, along with fats, are considered the main source of energy. Minerals and vitamins aid the various bodily functions, and fiber is necessary for digestion. The last, but the most important and indispensable factor is water.
Balanced Diet for an Athlete
A diet for athletes must take care of the daily requirement of energy, by providing the sufficient amounts of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and other essential nutrients. Carbohydrates can be in the form of simple sugars, which are found in biscuits, cakes, puddings, honey, and muesli; or as starchy carbohydrates, as in potatoes, rice, yogurt, pulses, fruits, vegetables, bread, whole grain cereals, and beans.
Even though the foods in the former category have a higher fat content, as compared to the latter, at times, consuming simple sugars is more convenient, as starchy carbohydrates can be very heavy and stuffy. Dairy products, oils, biscuits, crisps, beef, nuts, bacon, oily fish, etc., are sources of fat. Eggs, meat, poultry, fish, and milk, are rich in proteins.
In general, a daily balanced diet for athletes should include at least six servings of bread, cereal, pasta, and rice; two servings of milk, yogurt, and cheese; three servings of fruit; five ounces of meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts; five teaspoons of added fats and oils, and a very small amount of added sugar. This is only a general view and this diet can provide around 1600 calories only.
It is always better to seek the advice of a nutritionist regarding the type of foods to be consumed and the time of consumption. He will be able to guide you about what to eat before training, and formulate the best diets for athletes. All these queries can be solved by a nutritionist, as per the requirement of the athlete. Even though many types of diets have been formulated for athletes, like protein diets, healthy diets, nutritional diets, and special diets; you can make your own diet, with the help of a nutritionist. Above all, adopting a healthy lifestyle is also beneficial for an athlete.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert advice.