Adequate nutrition is key to the health and well-being of the person. As a general rule, when an athlete is concerned about this, he focuses a lot on micronutrients. But it’s the macronutrients that you need to consider first when designing your menus. And then refine by pointing out what foods to take taking into account macros and micronutrients. But for this, you have to start at the beginning. That is, to know what macronutrients are and why they are so important for athletes.
What are macronutrients and what are they
If you are looking to know what macronutrients are, the simplest definition to understand is that they are the three large groups of nutrients that humans need. These are carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids or fats. Every person needs them. But depending on your age, health and fitness, weight and height, lifestyle, and physical activity, you will need a different amount of food intake.
The function of macronutrients in the body is different for each of them.
What are carbohydrate macronutrients and why are they necessary for athletes
Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy. They are essential for bodily functions such as sports activity. This already indicates that an athlete should include carbohydrates in their diet. But not in any quantity or of any kind.
Depending on your goals, the percentage of food that should correspond to carbohydrates is different. For example, in the case of aiming to lose weight, this should be less than in an athlete preparing for an endurance competition. In any case, experts recommend that carbohydrates never exceed 50% of the macronutrient intake.
What are the most suitable carbohydrates for athletes?
But are all carbohydrates the same? Of course not. Most of the intake of these or, better still, all, should correspond to complex carbohydrates. This allows energy to be released more slowly and prevents it from turning into fat in the body.
These are whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits with the lowest percentage of fructose. Foods such as lentils, whole oat flakes, brown rice, or seasonal vegetables should be part of your diet to get the most out of your workouts. Always within the quantity limit suitable for you.
What are protein macronutrients and what are they for?
Proteins are other essential macronutrients for the body’s survival. Among other things, they are essential for muscle development. They repair tissues and that, among other essential actions for the body, means that they are necessary for muscle recovery after physical activity. Furthermore, proteins are a structural component of cells.
How much protein does an athlete need in his diet?
Knowing what macronutrients are and the function of protein macronutrients, the next question is how many humans need. You must be clear that the fact that they are necessary for the athlete does not imply that they should be the exclusive food of the diet. In fact, the abuse of them causes the body to use them as a source of energy. And that supposes that they ignore their true function.
But, specifically, how much protein should be part of an athlete’s diet? It depends, among other issues, on the type of sport you usually practice.
· An endurance and ultra-resistance athlete requires between 1.2 and 1.4 grams of protein per kilo of body weight per day.
· A strength athlete needs to eat between 1.5 and 2 grams of protein per kilo of body weight per day.
· The person who does sports with the aim of losing weight needs around 0.8 grams of protein per kilo of weight every day.
And in terms of the percentage of the total diet, what is indicated? Sports nutrition experts advise that protein is between 45% and 60% of the total daily food ingested.
What are lipids and what is the function of these macronutrients?
Fats have such a bad reputation that when one is interested in nutrition, one of the first questions is what lipid macronutrients are and what they are for. Lipids or fats are essential for the body to absorb and synthesize fat-soluble vitamins, the key to different functions. They are also key to hormone synthesis.
When talking about body fat deposits, it is common to think of cellulite and obesity. This is true when it comes to excess fat accumulated in the body. But it is also true that the body needs fat deposits, yes, in adequate quantity. The reason? These are responsible, in addition to the functions already mentioned, for protecting different organs of the body and keeping them in place. This is the case of the heart and liver, among others. This already gives you a clear idea of the relevance of the lipid macronutrient function.
How many lipids does an athlete need to ingest and what type should they be
Approximately 30% of the caloric intake of a healthy person should correspond to foods rich in lipids. Keep in mind that each gram of lipids corresponds to 9 calories. Of course, not all fats are valid for a healthy diet. You should focus your lipid intake on unsaturated fatty acids. And never let more than 50% of them be of animal origin.
Nuts, avocado, salmon, olive oil, or tuna are sources of “good” fats.
Now that you know what the macronutrients are and what the function of the macronutrients is, you just have to organize your diet. Calculate what percentage and amount you need of each of them as a first step to design healthy and balanced menus for athletes.