MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT THE DIET OF PROFESSIONAL AND RECREATIONAL ATHLETES.

Centar za nutricionizam i dijetetiku inga markovic

Athletes’ diet is a special branch of dietetics, and it belongs to the healthy population’s diet. The athlete’s diet is the type of diet that people who professionally do sports consume, so their nutritional needs are a lot different compared to those that do sports recreationally. When it comes to professional sports, the right diet is a part of life since not only will the health condition depend on it, but the results that they achieve in competitions, as well. The wrong and insufficient diet reduces the athlete’s abilities, and it can lead to serious health issues, especially if we are talking about young people that are still growing and developing.

Basic characteristics of the athlete’s diet are:

-energy needs are higher compared to people that don’t do sports
-intense muscle work leads to piling up of metabolic products of the acid reaction in the body, which leads to the decrease of the functional abilities in the body
-every competition gets followed by dehydration and the loss of mineral salts, especially sodium chloride and vitamins, so the need for water, mineral salts, and vitamins are higher during both the active training and competing.

Energy needs, as well as other nutrient needs, depend on the type of sport and the duration of the training, so every athlete and a sports discipline have a specially-determined diet.

When it comes to recreational sports, the energy needs don’t differ from the already-calculated daily needs since the time and effort that go into such activities are negligible, so we truly need to understand the meaning of the word sports. The biggest misconception is related to the consumption of proteins. Professional athletes and kids that do sports have higher needs for proteins than people that don’t do sports, while recreational athletes’ needs don’t increase, and there is no need for taking protein shakes additionally. Also, there are many misinformation and half-truths about so-called fantastic products for achieving amazing results in both the professional and recreational sports world. Such products usually don’t go through any serious scientific analysis that would prove that their main goal is marketing and moneymaking. However, serious scientific studies are filled with data where an enormous, serious, and even fatal harmfulness of these products has been described.

For all recreational athletes and those that want to start exercising, some rules should be followed so that actively doing any sport wouldn’t be counterproductive, especially when it comes to middle-aged people and the elderly population. First of all, a person who is planning on exercising needs to check their health condition through a physical exam (lab tests, ergometry, ECG), determine the right nutritional analysis (energy needs and the intake of nutrients, depending on the sex, age, daily needs, comorbidity, etc.), and not pay attention to marketing tricks, as well as fitness trainers’ tricks about the increased need for their products since your needs are not higher if you start doing sports recreationally. Try to avoid supplements, especially, but make sure to consume enough water during the practice.

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