1. Take meals at regular times
This enables the body to receive a regular intake of energy. In this way it can adapt itself and handle food digestion better.
2. Have breakfast
There are still too many sportspeople who do not have breakfast. The importance of the carbohydrate and protein content of breakfast determines the whole flow of the day. If the intake is too low, attention span and concentration will fall, partly as a result of hypoglycaemia. These phenomena will be more pronounced if the time between breakfast and lunch is too long or if you train at midday. Performance in the sporting session will be affected as will recuperation at the end of the activity. The following meal will be unable to compensate for the deficiencies caused by a lack of breakfast.
3. Maintain a varied and balanced diet
A varied diet covers almost all requirements in terms of vitamins and minerals. The aim of a diet is to keep us in good health as well as to optimise the sportsperson's physiological capabilities.
4. Take lots of fluids
Drinking regularly is the best way to avoid dehydration. You need to take on fluids before, during and after sport. Good hydration will allow better recuperation. The consequences of dehydration are reduced performance, muscular injuries, digestive problems, etc. Water is the only essential drink for good hydration; however, for exercise lasting more than an hour, energy drinks can provide a genuine energy boost.
5. Feed the muscles at every meal
Physical activity consumes a lot of energy so you need to think about renewing it regularly. It is starchy foods that provide this energy, being rich in complex carbohydrates. For maximum efficiency, you need to spread them out throughout the day, in other words at every meal.
6. Don't forget fruits and vegetables
Although they are low in calorie content, they provide nutritional content in vitamins and minerals that will have a direct impact on the proper ingestion of nutrients. They are also rich in fibre and so facilitate intestinal transit.
7. Eat before exercise
Meals before exercise or competition will have an effect on performance. An insufficient diet may result in hypoglycaemia: a diet that is too heavy or too rich may lead to digestive problems. You therefore need to go for a full but digestible meal.
8. Eat during exercise
Hydration and eating during exercise will be key factors in avoiding dehydration, a reduction in energy and therefore a reduction in performance. Three essential elements are water for hydration, sodium to compensate for sweat loss and carbohydrates to compensate for energy loss.
9. Don't forget recuperation
Once a competition or a training session has finished, sportspeople tend to forget about recuperation. However, after all the effort, the body needs to regain its equilibrium. You therefore need to take care to compensate for all hydroelectrolytic losses and to renew energy reserves that are so vital for going back to training the next day.
10. Be careful with alcohol
Alcohol is not recommended for sportspeople. Its calorie content (7kcal/g of alcohol) cannot be used in muscular exercise. Alcohol reduces physical capabilities and will increase toxins that the body will need to expel. Furthermore, it accelerates dehydration and changes the body’s capability to regulate perspiration. Note that alcohol is considered a drug by certain associations.