The main rule is very simple:
there are no foods that can win a race, but there are many foods that can make it lose.
Starting from this assumption it is necessary to create a food awareness, and become familiar with a few general concepts that it is useful to know to set up a correct diet, in relation to the physical efforts to be sustained.
We must first remember that everything we introduce into our body must serve simultaneously:
- like gasoline (calories),
- as protection (vitamins, minerals, fibers, antioxidants),
- for thermal regulation (the water of drinks and that contained in food),
- for the continuous maintenance of worn parts (proteins with their essential amino acids that allow the continuous renewal of tissues).
Newspapers and television often talk about diets and nutrition, it is also talked about a lot in the sports environment but, for one reason or another, not everyone has clear ideas and often handed down old popular notions not shared by modern science.
The human engine needs a mixture of macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, fats) with preferential percentage ratios to work best.
So, let’s immediately specify what the most suitable mixture should be for any human being (sedentary or sporty does not make much difference, if not for the smaller or greater quantity of mixture, while its percentage composition is similar).
At least 50-60% of the calories needed by each of us must come from the carbohydrate group, no more than 30% of the fat group, and the remaining 10-20% from the protein group.
Since the human engine is very complex, it also needs “protective” elements (vitamins, minerals, etc.).
One of the effects of training is the increase in muscle tissue; but if the amount of muscle tissue increases the metabolism increases.
The muscles of the athletes consume a mixture of carbohydrates and lipids that varies in percentage according to the workouts carried out and the intensity of the physical exercise: at the beginning of the exercise carbohydrates are consumed, in the purely aerobic exercise the muscles mainly use fats. , while as the intensity of work increases, an increasingly rich mixture of carbohydrates is consumed.
The burning of glucose (the simplest form of carbohydrates that will pass into the blood after digestion) produces energy (4 calories per gram of sugar) in the cells of the human body and, as easily disposable waste, water, and carbon dioxide.
Carbohydrates are the foods that all over the world provide man with the basis of nutrition, or at least half of the calories that are needed, every day, to pay the expense of being alive and that, much more expensive, of moving and to run.
Where are carbohydrates found?
Especially in vegetable foods: in cereals (bread, pasta, rice, corn, etc.), in legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils), in tubers (potatoes), in fruit and vegetables (for example, sugar comes from the processing of cane or beetroot).
But also, among foods of animal origin, in milk (lactose 5 g per 100 g of milk) and, logically, in honey. In drinks (juices, coca-cola, Cinotti, etc.) and even more in sweets!
Simple sugars and complex sugars
The distinction of carbohydrates in “simple” and “complex” concerns the speed of assimilation, that is, the time it will take to be digested, then “disassembled” and reduced to elementary molecules (glucose, fructose, and galactose) capable of crossing the intestinal wall and to enter the blood.
The carbohydrates of legumes, pasta, bread, or rice are complex, and therefore slower indigestion (all rich in starch, a very long and complex molecule that our enzymes must shorten indigestion).
Those of honey or sugar (sucrose) with which we sweeten coffee, those of fruit or juices are considered simple and rapidly absorbed carbohydrates.
The glycemic index indicates how quickly the agent metabolizes a food, based on a scale in which pure glucose has a value of 100.
Foods with a high index (such as the pane and cereals that are consumed at breakfast) are digested more by sight and make you feel the sensation of fame first, while those with the lowest index burn slowly and cause a more lasting sense of satiety.
Furthermore, adding fiber to each meal (vegetables) will slow down the body’s glycemic response.
Foods with a high glycemic index in practice cause the body to produce more insulin; this hormone removes sugars from the blood
So the ideal thing would be to eat complex carbohydrates, which are often those with the lowest glycemic index, in order not to risk an early onset of the sensation of fame.
The fructose contained in the fruit causes a very low insulin response, not only does it not decrease the level of circulating fatty acids but on the contrary favors its use, thus saving a part of the muscle calories of sugars, represented by glycogen.
In the past, many athletes used a dissociated diet to increase muscle glycogen stores on the day of the race: after a maximum workout, able to eliminate muscle glycogen stores, they followed three days of diet alone and proteins and three more intakes of carbohydrates only.