Increased Energy Requirements for Amateur Athletes?
The best engine cannot perform without fuel. This also applies to us humans. Nothing works without energy. This also has an impact on how much active people should eat. Basically, the point is that the energy balance should at least be balanced (intake = consumption). In weight training, a slightly positive energy balance (intake > consumption) is better, in other, figure-fixed sports or those with weight classes (e.g. boxing, dancing or gymnastics) a temporary deficit (intake < consumption) can be good in order to reduce weight - whereby the emphasis here is on temporary because too long or too strong a reduction limits the performance.
How much energy do athletes need?
The energy requirement for athletes is calculated in the same way as for normal people. It is made up of several factors that play a role:
- Basal metabolic rate
- Performance turnover
- Digestive loss
- Food-induced thermogenesis
In addition, there are other factors that have an effect on the energy requirement. This includes
- Muscle mass
- Illnesses and injuries
- The sport that is being undertaken
- Training scope, frequency and intensity
- Professional activities
- Climatic conditions
- The food consumed
If someone does a lot of sport, the performance turnover naturally increases. In addition, the basal metabolic rate in athletes is usually higher due to the larger muscle mass. This is why the energy requirement of active people is higher than that of non-athletes. In the case of competitive athletes in particular, the energy consumption can increase by several thousand kilocalories in the short term - for example when they compete in a marathon.
This is not so important for amateur athletes, because their energy consumption is only slightly higher than that of inactive people. Nevertheless, amateur athletes can improve their performance with the right diet. Two points are particularly important here: what you eat and how often. Let's take a closer look at this.
What to Eat
Basically, a healthy diet forms the basis for active people, so you should make sure to consume all the micro and macronutrients that the body needs on a daily basis. In addition to the classic recommendations (little salt, sugar and saturated fatty acids, but a lot of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, water etc.), the following recommendations are important for active people:
- Demand-based energy consumption
- Sufficiently high nutrient density
- Adequate hydration, especially when exercising or in summer
- Adequate carbohydrate intake
- The uptake of proteins with high biological value
- A meal distribution or frequency corresponding to the load
Let's take a closer look at the last point.
What About Meal Frequency?
Active people should pay attention to when and how often they eat something. This is especially true if you want to build up additional muscle mass. In this case, it is necessary to consume more calories than the body burns every day. The best way to get the most out of muscle growth is to eat several small meals throughout the day. This works best if you eat five to six meals a day, i.e. about every three hours. So the muscles always have the nutrients they need to grow. Another advantage of these regular meals is that daily fluctuations in performance and readiness are balanced out. So you have more energy available throughout the day.
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