The supplement market is constantly growing and more and more new products are being launched in the world of sport, enhancing their positive effect. Everyone has certainly tried a rejuvenating smoothie or energy bar by now. But have you ever wondered if you can also do without it? The purpose of this article is to demonstrate that in certain situations even “normal” foods can be used as sports foods. It is important to note that supplements can, and should, be used in the high-level sports environment, due to their ease of handling, known dosage, the advantageous composition of nutrients, and excellent tolerability. Yet the use of supplements should not always be the first choice.
SUPPLY OF ENERGY DURING LONG-TERM SESSIONS
If a long bike ride is planned, you must also think about the intake of fluids and energy. The amount of drink depends on the environmental conditions (temperature and humidity) and how much the body sweats trying to cool down. If the effort lasts more than an hour, you must also consume carbohydrates. This can be done in two ways: in liquid form (sports drink) or with solid foods and supplements (gels or bars). The intake of carbohydrates depends on the duration of the load and the intensity. The best thing is to consume 30 to 60 g of carbohydrates per hour and in case of extreme stress even 90 g per hour. Carbohydrates can be taken naturally by consuming for example bananas, dates, dried fruit, sweets, biscuits not too fat, homemade energy bars (based on cereal flakes, nuts, dried fruit, honey), or rice cakes ( e.g. sushi rice with almonds and coconut flakes). The more intense the training, the more you have to opt for easily digestible foods. A self-produced sports drink is made with water, herbal tea, or fruit juice with maltodextrin, a little salt, and possibly syrup.
REGENERATION AFTER A LONG LASTING SESSION
There are three important factors for regeneration after endurance sports: firstly, rebalancing the fluid deficit, then replenishing the glycogen stores (carbohydrate deposits in the muscles), and finally the metabolism of proteins. To rebalance the fluid deficit you need to calculate the weight loss due to sweating and multiply it by 1.5. This is the amount of fluid needed to make up for the loss. To replenish carbohydrate reserves, 1.2 g per kg of body weight per hour of carbohydrates are calculated for the next 4 hours, until an adequate meal can be consumed. To start the protein metabolism and related regeneration processes as quickly as possible, it is recommended to take 20-25 g of protein in the first 30-60 minutes after exertion. Many regenerative supplements, therefore, contain 25 g of rapidly available protein (often whey protein) and a share of carbohydrates. Thanks to this composition, a very beneficial drink from a caloric point of view are created. Of course, a regenerating drink can also be produced at home (for example with milk, ricotta or cottage cheese, oat flakes, berries, or other fruits and spices such as cinnamon or turmeric). This creates a tasty mix, which contains a little less protein (usually 15-20 g per serving), not only quickly available protein, and a little fewer carbohydrates than in a ready-made smoothie. Chocolate milk also has a suitable composition (liquids, proteins, and carbohydrates) and can therefore be consumed as a regenerating smoothie after a long-lasting workout. However, note that to obtain 20 g of protein, 600 ml of milk would be needed. It is up to the athlete to decide whether this choice makes sense from a caloric point of view, based on their personal situation. Even a sandwich, made with a combination of carbohydrates and protein sources, can be useful as a restorative snack, of course together with the right amount of water.