The 5 basic goals that should be observed in the nutrition of an athlete are as follows:
1. Adequate energy intake to meet training demands
2. Adequate carbohydrate intake to replenish muscle and liver glycogen stores
3. Adequate protein intake for growth and repair of tissues (especially muscle tissue)
4. An adequate and balanced diet to maintain a healthy immune system (eg, proteins, antioxidant vitamins)
5. Adequate fluid intake (hydration)
An athlete must consume enough energy to maintain body weight and health and maximize exercise effects. Negative energy balance, that is, the energy taken is less than the energy expended, causes loss of muscle mass, menstrual irregularity, loss or density of bone tissue, and the feeling of fatigue, the risk of injury and disease, and the recovery process increase. For this reason, an athlete's gender, sports branch, training duration and frequency should be taken into account and sufficient energy intake should be provided.
While the carbohydrate intake of athletes is primarily planned for rest or light training days, additional carbohydrates can be added before, during or after exercise to support performance and facilitate recovery on heavy training days. For example, while the carbohydrate requirement of the athlete is 3-5 grams/day per body weight on low-intensity light training days, it is 10-12 g/kg/day on high-intensity training days.
Although the protein needs of athletes are higher than those of non-athletes, they are not as high as they are perceived in society. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommend 1.2 - 2.0 grams of protein per daily body weight for athletes, depending on training.
Contribution of dietary fat to energy should be between 20-35%. Fat and essential fatty acids occupy an important place in the diets of athletes, both as an energy source and for the use of fat-soluble vitamins.
The ACSM recommends that if athletes get enough energy from a variety of foods, they will not need additional vitamin and mineral supplements. The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) has reported that a diet rich in a variety of food groups will provide adequate amounts of micronutrients in most cases. However, some athletes may have greater requirements due to disproportionate losses in sweat and urine. For these athletes, supplementation may need to be considered individually.
Adequate fluid intake is very important for an athlete. In case of insufficient fluid intake, the amount of blood pumped with each heartbeat decreases, exercise muscles cannot get enough oxygen, fatigue increases, performance decreases and by-products of exercise are not excreted from the body as they should. For this reason, an athlete should consume fluids according to his daily energy needs and to meet the amount of sweat lost during training.
A well-organized eating plan will safely provide enough energy and nutrients to fuel your body most effectively for optimum performance. When additional nutrition and hydration is required, use of sports supplements and working with a sports dietitian to create a personalized nutrition plan.