Nutrition and sport, what to eat also based on age

Nutrition and sport, what to eat also based on age

More free time, the desire to regain some physical shape and summer becomes an opportunity to move more, both by starting to play sports after months of inactivity and by continuing to train if you are already active. In both cases, given the high temperatures and the high level of humidity, the power supply must also be calibrated to new needs.

Often in the summer, even those who generally practice physical activity in the gym suspend their subscription but continue to train outdoors perhaps with long walks or runs on the beach or in parks. And then there are athletes of various levels who never stop training despite the heat and humidity which increase sweating and therefore the loss of mineral salts.

How to compensate? "It is necessary to moderately increase the amount of salty condiments, to replenish the sodium lost in sweat and to incorporate foods rich in water, carbohydrates and proteins into the diet, such as low-fat yogurt, fresh cheese, skim milk", he explains Irene Melicianispecialist in sports science and nutrition and member of the scientific committee of Mnemosyne-Université catholique de Louvain who adds: "It is better to avoid or at least limit anything that can raise body temperature, such as spicy foods and heavy, fatty foods which increase sweating and therefore lead to greater water loss".

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What happens when you train in the summer

In hot weather everyone sweats more when moving, but fluid loss during exercise varies significantly from person to person and from day to day due to a number of factors (body weight, genetic predisposition, heat acclimatization status, metabolic efficiency). "During exercise - explains the nutritionist - the core body temperature rises and the body needs to dissipate excess heat. This is done through sweating and thermoregulation. If you do not hydrate properly, you increase the risk of heat-related diseases, such as urinary tract infections, kidney stones and even kidney failure. Even more specifically, if the body heats up and becomes significantly dehydrated, all physiological functions are likely to be compromised. In addition, sports performance will be less efficient and recovery will suffer a severe blow."

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Fruit and vegetable based smoothies

Drinking in quantity is essential for everyone in the summer, even more so if you play sports. But be careful with your choice: "Because alcohol can act as a diuretic and increase urine output, it should be consumed in moderation, particularly during the post-exercise period when rehydration is an important goal," Meliciani explains. "Caffeine can also act as a diuretic, but recent studies suggest that when consumed in relatively small doses it probably won't increase daily urine output or cause dehydration. In any case, the best solution is to increase the amount of fruit and especially vegetables during the day by consuming smoothies and small snacks made of raw vegetables that contain fewer calories."

The needs of those who train in a more professional way and for a longer period (for more than 4 hours) are different: "In these cases - clarifies the nutritionist - sweating and loss of mineral salts can become a risk and it is important to introduce drinks containing sodium and electrolytes to promote recovery".

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Pre-race slushes

The heat makes me want ice cream too. Can they help to promote hydration even in sportsmen? "Better to take slushes or ice lollies, very fashionable at the very hot Tokyo Olympic Games or in events such as the Tour de France", replies Meliciani. “These slushes can be used for pre-cooling before a race or competition, during exercise or breaks, and after the race to reduce and maintain core temperatures.”

Drinks to prevent cramps

One of the problems that can arise when playing sports, especially if you don't practice during the year but dedicate yourself to it in the summer, are muscle cramps which are also favored by dehydration and excessive sweat. "The risk of cramps - explains the nutritionist - can be reduced by maintaining a good electrolyte balance, which can be achieved through the consumption of electrolytes during exercise, in particular sodium, contained in isotonic drinks that can now be found in any supermarket".

In an emergency, foods such as hot peppers, mustard, wasabi, cinnamon, garlic, or pickles can be consumed to relieve cramping pain. "Some scientific results - underlines Meliciani - suggest that foods such as vinegar in pickle juice or other compounds such as pepper that make it spicy, increase the stimulation of receptors in the mouth, esophagus and stomach, relaxing the nerves that control muscle fibers and ending the cramp".

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Muscle recovery

After each workout it is important to promote muscle recovery which can be more tiring in the summer due to the high temperatures. To help muscle recovery, first of all, make sure you are well hydrated before, during and after exercise.

How to adjust? "I recommend drinking 500 ml of water or isotonic drink in the two hours before training; 125 - 250 ml of water or isotonic drink a few minutes before training; 125 - 250 ml of water or isotonic drink every 15-20 minutes while training and 500 ml of water or isotonic drink immediately after", suggests the nutritionist. Getting enough protein and omega-3s from salmon, mackerel, tuna, flaxseed and chia throughout the day is also helpful because these polyunsaturated fatty acids fight inflammation, minimize muscle soreness and speed up recovery. "After a long workout - adds Meliciani - I also recommend drinking black cherry juice which contains many antioxidant and anti-inflammatory polyphenolic compounds, excellent for a quick recovery".

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