Sport and food, tips for a healthy life

Regular physical activity is a remarkably beneficial habit for the organism, and especially for the heart. The aim of sport at any age is to stimulate sensory perception, motor coordination and the sense of rhythm. Above all, agility and flexibility of the body should be encouraged.

A personalised and adapted training programme is the best option and, generally speaking, a combination of aerobic and anaerobic exercises is the best alternative. Every movement, be it running, swimming, cycling, requires a muscular contraction force, so it is convenient to combine cardiovascular training with muscle toning training. Sometimes we get tired not because the cardio respiratory system is exhausted, but because the muscular system is exhausted.

Aerobic exercise serves to work on endurance and lung capacity, but both aerobic and anaerobic exercises work the circulatory system and the heart. Anaerobic exercise forces the heart to pump blood quickly for a short period of time, and this helps strengthen the circulatory system. Combining and alternating both exercises is very beneficial for the body.

In the long term, increasing muscle mass helps to eliminate excess fat and control weight.

The key to nutrition

In order to be able to practice any sport without excessively tiring the organism, an adequate diet is necessary. In general, a balanced and healthy diet that includes proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals is an adequate diet. In terms of food distribution, carbohydrates should provide an energy intake of 55-60% of the total calories ingested; the proportion of fat is 30% of the total daily energy intake; and protein requirements should be 12-15%. A proportion of at least 50% animal protein must be respected to ensure a sufficient supply of essential amino acids.

Carbohydrates are essential for improving sports performance: they increase the hepatic glycogen that will supply glucose to the blood and from there to the synthesis of hepatic glycogen. It is advisable to ingest them before and during exercise, especially if it is prolonged. The main source should be complex carbohydrates (cereals, vegetables, vegetables, potatoes …) that allow prolonged efforts. 12-15% should be simple sugars (glucose, honey, fresh fruit and its juice, dried fruit (raisins, prunes, dried figs…) useful in intense efforts, to be taken during and immediately after exercise, to increase blood glucose levels and recovery of muscle glycogen, which is essential if you want to maintain optimal performance in successive training sessions. Therefore, the post-exercise food intake is aimed at the recovery of reserves and losses.

Proteins can be obtained from fish, eggs, dairy products and meat. The necessary fats must come from vegetable oils such as olive oil, sunflower oil, etc. The saturated ones are the ones we should avoid, but the rest are necessary for a correct cellular functioning, since they are an important strong energy together with the glycogen to face the physical activity. Thus, there must be a greater consumption of monounsaturated fatty acids present in olive oil and polyunsaturated fatty acids in fish, as opposed to saturated fatty acids containing foods such as meat, sausages, snacks, buns… In sports with prolonged resistance, fat consumption should represent 20-25% of total calories. It is important that we have adequate levels of fat to avoid consuming muscle tissues for energy.

The supply of vitamins and minerals is essential as it plays an important structural and functional role, mainly at the metabolic level. It requires an increase in the micronutrients involved in protein metabolism, energy and carbohydrates (group B vitamins present in vegetables, fruits, meats, cereals, etc.) due to excessive loss through sweating.

On the other hand, the supply of fibre is essential as it helps the processes of detoxification and, therefore, recovery.

And one thing we can never forget is adequate hydration, this is the best ergogenic aid. Water is essential before, during and after exercise. When you sweat, you lose water and your body can become dehydrated. It can be replenished simply with water or glucose serum, in small and repeated amounts during training and competition. The best drink is water as it contains neither calories no sugars.

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