Fats in the athlete's diet
Fats are macronutrients that are an integral part of the protein-fat-carbohydrates triad. Traditionally, fats are assigned the role of "unloved relatives" – you really want to get rid of them, but it is difficult to do this. This picture is especially clear in sports nutrition, where carbohydrates are a source of energy, proteins are the building material for muscles, and fats are a risk factor, the cause of weight gain, empty calories and cholesterol.
In fact, this type of macronutrients rightfully belongs to a place in a full-fledged sports nutrition, but it is necessary to figure out which fats are necessary for athletes and why.
The importance of fats in sports nutrition
Each type of fatty acids has its own task. For athletes, the full provision of the body with these nutrients is almost more important than for other people.
Sources of saturated fatty acids
Saturated fatty acids enter the body only with animal products. First of all, we are talking about dairy products, eggs, meat and fish. Saturated acids are a source of lecithin and cholesterol. Lecithin is a phospholipid necessary for a full-fledged metabolism, the quality of which directly affects both athletic success and the athlete's physical fitness and weight. Cholesterol in a normal amount provides cell permeability, synthesis of hormones, vitamin D and bile acids, which is important not only in sports, but also in everyday life.
Sources of unsaturated fatty acids
Unsaturated fatty acids are found in vegetable oils, fish and fish oil, seafood. Monounsaturated acids reduce cholesterol levels in the blood, providing the athlete with vascular and heart health. In addition, these acids are responsible for the rate of cell recovery after physical exertion. Polyunsaturated acids have their own functions. They are involved in all growth processes (including muscles), protect cells, prevent oxidative processes, that is, they are antioxidants. Some polyunsaturated fatty acids are essential, since they cannot be synthesized in the body and must be constantly supplied with food.
The amount and composition of fats in sports nutrition
The proportion of fats in an athlete's diet should account for an average of about 30% of calories, but in practice everything depends on many factors. The type of physique, the type of sport, and the intensity of loads are also important. For example, it is better for athletes with a hypersthenic physique to reduce the proportion of fats to 20%, gaining the necessary caloric content due to proteins and "slow" carbohydrates. Asthenics are not recommended to reduce this indicator. Some sports require increased energy consumption, so the proportion of fats in the diet of such athletes cannot be reduced. First of all, this applies to winter sports and swimming, where a person needs to provide body heating.
Fat intake is especially important for athletes in those sports where endurance is required. This is mountaineering, marathon running, cycling, etc. Weightlifting also requires the full provision of the body with fats. Separately, it should be said about the consumption of fats by athletes engaged in intellectual sports (chess) – high digestibility of nutrients is important for them, therefore, fats are necessary in their diet, and a deficiency of saturated (animal) fats is unacceptable.
The percentage of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids in the athlete 's diet is on average as follows: Saturated acids account for 10%, monounsaturated acids account for about 10%, and polyunsaturated fatty acids account for 6-8%.
Sources of fats for athletes
Here, the recommendations of sports nutritionists differ little from the general rules of healthy eating. A complete rejection of solid synthetic fats is preferable. Saturated fatty acids are best obtained through the use of eggs and dairy products, unsaturated ones – due to vegetable oils, nuts and fatty fish.
Unsaturated fatty acids are destroyed under the influence of high temperatures, so it is advisable to use vegetable fats in cold fresh form – as additives to salads, dressings to side dishes, as part of vegetable juices and cocktails, for example, carrot.
Lack of fat in sports nutrition
A full amount of fat in the diet is responsible for the performance of joints, the load on which in any sport (except chess) is very high. The lack of this type of nutrients in the nutrition of athletes is fraught with various deterioration of both health and professional results. For example, a deficiency of omega-3 acids impairs the body's ability to overcome various inflammatory processes, of which there are many in the athlete's body. In addition, the lack of fat slows down tissue recovery after exertion, which is especially important during competition periods.
Lack of fat will lead to weight loss, which in some cases may be useful, but only under the supervision of a doctor. Otherwise, the athlete faces exhaustion. Proper fat intake, on the contrary, will allow the athlete to have the desired shape without abuse of proteins.