Those who practice sports, even at an amateur level, are usually more attentive to nutrition and often take various types of nutritional supplements in the belief that they can improve their sports performance or keep fitter. In the vast sector of food supplements (in Italy the turnover in 2012 was around 1.9 billion euros a year) a large share is occupied precisely by sports supplements, mainly “energy”, based on amino acids (proteins ), vitamins, and minerals.
These products are freely sold in pharmacies, herbalist’s shops, sports shops, and on the internet and are subject to often misleading advertising which directly links their use to the possibility of achieving maximum results in sport. But the use of food supplements is often superfluous and if done without medical supervision and prescription, potentially harmful to health.
Competitive Sports And Supplements
In competitive sports, supplements can be prescribed by sports doctors or nutritionists as supplements which, alongside a balanced diet, can contribute to achieving optimal nutritional status. However, we are talking about professional sportsmen, those who, to be clear, play 4-5 football matches a week or take part in cycling races that keep them busy even for 3-4 hours in a row.
Similar athletic performances involve high muscular work, intense sweating, and energy consumption which can even be double compared to days in which the athlete does not practice sport. In these cases, the loss of mineral salts, vitamins, and proteins may require the supplementation of nutrients, given that it is not always possible to increase the number of specific nutrients with food.
However, it will be the sports doctor or nutritionist, based on the characteristics of the athlete and the sport practiced, who will decide which supplement to administer, and the quantity and duration of the intake itself.
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Integration In Amateur Sport: Fashion Or Necessity?
Amateur sportsmen, for example, are those who participate in matches (such as football, basketball, tennis, etc.) or practice individual sports (such as swimming, gym, cycling, etc.), for a duration of approximately 1 or 2 hours, from 2-4 times a week, even with good physical but non-professional effort, they do not need to use supplements due to their sporting activity unless otherwise prescribed by a doctor.
Usually, a diet balanced in carbohydrates (sugars), proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals and proportionate in calories to provide the right energy balance, manages to guarantee the amateur sportsman a robust body, a correct state of psychophysical health, and a good sporting performance. If you don’t have the time to calculate the energy and nutritional intake of your meals, you can use our free Personalized Menu tool: by entering your data.
you will know, immediately and for free, how many calories you should consume each day and you will receive via email 8 menus (2 per season) consisting of 5 daily meals, balanced in macronutrients and calibrated for the calories you normally have to eat Follow the menus every day, remembering to increase your calorie intake on the days you play sports.
To find out how many calories you consume with your physical activity, consult the table in this article. If you follow a correct diet, taking supplements does not help, as it is thought, to optimize the effects of training or improve sports performance; on the contrary, supplements, if taken in excess or when there is no real need, can have negative effects on health as well as on physical performance itself.
Vitamin And Mineral Supplements
Vitamins and minerals are essential micronutrients, especially for those who practice sports, but it is also true that any vitamin-mineral surplus achieved with the use of supplements (it is difficult to obtain it naturally) is eliminated in the urine (it is therefore superfluous) or is retained in the tissues with possible negative effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, headache, and weight loss.
In particular, symptoms of acute toxicity occur when quantities of vitamin A exceeding the storage capacity of the liver are introduced (hypervitaminosis). The SINU (Italian Society of Human Nutrition) advises that those taking vitamin A supplements should not exceed single doses of 120 mg and prolonged doses of 9 mg/day in men and 7.5 mg/day in women. However, it is also important to avoid possible vitamin deficiencies (avitaminosis), especially those of group B.
The vitamins of group B, in particular B1 and B12, are essential for the transformation of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates into energy, and, according to some studies they are directly linked to the maintenance of sports performance. It is therefore important, for everyone but even more so for athletes, to eat weekly foods rich in group B vitamins such as meat, fish, eggs, milk, and derivatives such as Grana Padano DOP, fruit, and vegetables.
Also very important are vitamins A, C, and E, and minerals, such as zinc and selenium, which perform a powerful antioxidant action against free radicals, substances harmful to the body which are released during the production of energy. A sportsman produces more free radicals as he “burns” more energy than normal and consequently needs a greater supply of antioxidants and protective nutrients.
To find out if you’re taking in a good amount of antioxidants, take the test: you’ll get, immediately and for free, a score that will tell you if your diet and lifestyle are correct for your body. By filling out the test you will also receive, by email, 8 guides (2 per season) with the list of foods that are richest in antioxidants in that period and many tasty indications on how to cook them so as not to waste their properties. Protein doesn’t make muscles grow
In some cases, many sportsmen use amino acid (protein) supplements and/or follow high-protein diets because they believe that by doing so they can increase their muscle mass, and therefore their strength. In reality, proteins are capable of repairing damaged muscle structures (plastic or structural function) but they cannot increase the volume, quantity, and strength of the muscles of an adult individual.
These aspects can be increased before the age of 40-50 only with physical activity, while a diet sufficiently rich in proteins can counteract sarcopenia, i.e. the progressive loss of muscle mass that usually occurs in people after the age of 50. years of age. However, an athlete indeed needs more protein than a sedentary man, especially if the sport practiced is of high intensity.
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