A number of questions need to be answered before nutritional advice can be given to an athlete. How much fuel (energy) does a sportsperson need? Which fuels are preferred? What about the proportion between carbohydrate, fat and protein? What roles do the vitamins and minerals play? In this article more information on the energy needs.
Vitamins and minerals have important roles in various bodily functions. They are co-factors in the release of energy [vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and vitamin B12, calcium and phosphorus] and contribute to the functioning of the nervous system [vitamin B2, vitamin B12 and potassium], bone maintenance [calcium and phosphorus], regular neurotransmission [calcium], functioning of the immune system [vitamin B12], maintenance of normal red blood cells [vitamin B2], regular production of red blood cells [vitamin B12] and protection of the body cells against oxidative damage [vitamin B2]. Additionally, calcium and potassium are involved in muscle contraction and function. Exercise can increase the use and loss of micronutrients in the body and so a higher intake of vitamins and minerals may sometimes be required. (1-2)
The diet of an athlete typically contains sufficient vitamins and minerals, as athletes generally eat more than non-athletes due to their increased energy requirements and, consequently, consume more nutrients. However, athletes with a poor food intake or who want to lose weight or have eliminated one or more food groups from their diets or may follow an unbalanced food pattern, may have a shortfall of some vitamins or minerals. Research has shown that particular attention should be paid to the vitamins and minerals calcium, vitamin D, iron and antioxidants. (1-3)
Publication Sport & NutritionWhat does science say about the role of nutrition in sports performance?
- American College of Sports Medicine, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and Dietitians of Canada. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2016; 116: 501-528.
- IAAF Athletics (2013). Nutrition for athletics. A practical guide to eating and drinking for health and performance in track and field. Updated May 2013. International Olympic Committee (2010). Consensus Statement on Sports Nutrition 2010. http:// www.Olympic.org/Documents/Reports/EN/CONSENSUS-FINALV8-en.pdf. Accessed November 6, 2011.
- Gillen et al., 2016