Sports Nutrition and Supplements: what should be included in the diet of an athlete?
Published: 8 September, 2022 | 5'
According to the current trend of healthy living, an increasing number of people are taking up an active lifestyle, which means an increase in sports and endurance activities, among other things.
Sports Nutrition and Supplements.
It is precisely because of this growing health awareness and the desire for quick results that “it is important for both regular consumers and beginners to get advice from a health professional“, says personal trainer and physiotherapist Crys Dyaz, ambassador of MARNYS.
A nutritionist or a personal trainer may be the right person to look at what goals you want to achieve, what your personal circumstances are, what training plan you are going to follow, what your sleeping habits are, what kind of sports you do, etc. Based on this, they can recommend a complete plan for your health and wellbeing.
What are sports supplements and what do they contain?
Sports foods are specialised products for athletes and active people to improve their nutritional intake, health, wellbeing, performance, muscle growth and/or recovery after exercise or prolonged effort.
Sports supplements are no longer mainly aimed at the so-called elite sportsmen, athletes or bodybuilders, but “anyone who practices sport can find in supplements an extra help to achieve their goals, together with nutrition and exercise to help you find your best performance“, says the trainer.
Whey protein, sports gels, protein shakes, bars enriched with superfoods, etc., are examples of sports foods. Among sports nutrition, sports nutrition includes food supplements for optimal health and performance.
What ingredients or supplements should I take? Depends on your sports goals
Training our body is absolutely necessary, however, it is convenient to do it with an aim or aims so that the training is effective and the motivation is maintained in the medium term.
- Increase and/or maintenance of muscle mass or lean mass, which is achieved by properly combining specific kinds of exercise and food, as well as adequate rest.
- Improving performance: this goal is linked to both muscle strength and ingredients that can help delay the onset of fatigue. Oxygen uptake and threshold anaerobic threshold are two concepts closely related to performance in endurance sports.
- Improve recovery: strength and endurance exercise sessions cause muscle damage that is often followed by an increase in oxidative stress and inflammation, so it is important to focus on foods that help in the recovery process, as well as what exercises to do.
- Hydration is essential to be able to effectively complete exercise sessions without stressing your body with water, as it can cause you to lose 2% or more of your body weight through sweat, “and performance is greatly affected if hydration levels are not optimal”, as Crys Dyaz explains.
Sports nutrition guide
Given the above factors, a recommended sports nutrition guide from most scientific publications and experts is as follows:
Consumers are increasingly looking for protein-rich foods, as optimal protein intake is often related to satiety, recovery from endurance exercise, and increasing or maintaining lean body mass.
There are different kinds of proteins that are especially useful for your sports activity, we have:
Whey Protein or ‘Whey Protein
Whey protein, also called whey protein or whey protein, is considered the jewel in the crown, in nutritional terms. It is one of the best quality sources of protein and offers a better taste than other sources. It is also high in essential amino acids and BCAAs, is easily digested and quickly absorbed, as well as scientifically proven to increase muscle building activity and muscle mass gains compared to other protein sources. There are also mixed preparations of protein sources and treatments (concentrate, isolate and hydrolysate), with sustained release, which are combined with whey producing a synergistic effect on muscle growth.
They are characterised by their high quality and have been carefully “shredded” or “pre-digested” so that they can be absorbed faster than standard proteins. This helps to reduce muscle recovery times from days to hours. Therefore, protein hydrolysates are perfect for high-frequency, high-intensity workouts and those with a small window for recovery.
There has been an increasing demand for plant-based proteins in the last few years, both for vegan consumers and for those who want to reduce their intake of products of animal source. These come from soya, peas or rice, and scientific research shows that these plant-based proteins may be as effective as animal-based proteins for muscle maintenance, provided that the selected source provides all the essential amino acids needed.
Carbohydrates or “Good Carbohydrates”.
Active and athletic people have higher carbohydrate needs, and without proper carbohydrate intake, exercise performance decreases. As for their source, low refined grains and pseudo-grains such as quinoa, amaranth, wild rice or natural sources of glucose from fruits or vegetables are becoming more popular due to their nutritional profile with a higher protein content and low glycaemic index, being considered as “good carbohydrates”.
Fat is sometimes associated with an unhealthy diet, yet it is an essential component of all cells and, together with carbohydrates, provides energy for those who do exercise at low to moderate intensity.
Therefore, the dietary recommendation for sportsmen and women is to keep an eye on the kind of fat you eat, which is more important than the amount of fat.
Look for polyunsaturated fatty acids (e.g. from fish) or monounsaturated fatty acids (e.g. avocado).
Sports drinks focus on improving hydration before, during and after physical activity. Electrolyte and sugar replacement solutions help maintain blood glucose levels and prevent dehydration and water loss.
They can therefore delay fatigue and reduce muscle damage during endurance exercise. One example is coconut water which is effective in keeping blood electrolyte levels up compared to a carbohydrate and electrolyte drink.
Foods that delay fatigue
As mentioned above, delaying the onset of fatigue as well as reducing oxidative stress is very important in training sessions. This will also have a positive impact on muscle recovery. A number of ingredients, which are often contained in natural stimulant complexes, contribute to this purpose, such as:
- Dark chocolate,
- Beetroot juice,
- Bovine colostrum,
- Milk proteins or
One last recommendation! Research has shown that the time and composition of meals may play a role in improving performance, training adaptation and the prevention of overtraining.
As an example, within 30 minutes after a workout, consumption of high-quality carbohydrates and protein is key to replacing nutrients used up during training. While carbohydrates replace glycogen stores and thus enhance muscle recovery, protein aids muscle building and repair.
Conclusion: Getting into good habits
Finally, as the Marnys ambassador explains, “the key is to have good habits and use sports supplements to achieve your goals, improve your results and performance”.
Costa, M. S. et al. Ergogenic potential of foods for performance and recovery: a new alternative in sports supplementation? A systematic review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2020 Nov 23;1-22.
Content provided by the MARNYS Scientific Information specialists with the help of Crys Dyaz. This article is for information purposes only and does not replace the advice of a specialist.
About the specialist
Crys Dyaz is a qualified physiotherapist, personal trainer, nutrition expert and ex elite swimmer of the Spanish national swimming team. She runs the CrysDyaz&Co sports centre where she trains well-known people and helps to promote a healthy lifestyle through her social media.