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Energy intake is crucial for maintaining an athlete’s performance, while protein plays a central role in repairing tissue damaged during exercise and keeping athletes healthy. Adequate calcium intake is also important for maintaining muscle function and bone health, as well as preventing fractures during competition. In addition, adequate iron supplementation is essential for the prevention and treatment of exercise-induced anemia, which is achieved by promoting the synthesis of red blood cells and maintaining hemoglobin levels. The article aims to comprehensively examine how nutrients such as nutritional supplements, carbohydrates, protein, calcium, and iron work together to improve an athlete’s overall performance.

Sports nutrition plays a crucial role in athlete performance, and numerous studies support this idea, showing that proper nutrient intake is important for improving athletic performance. Regardless of age, athletes need to pay attention to the importance of nutrition and make rational dietary choices based on the specific needs of the sport. These requirements include adequate energy intake, proper hydration, and appropriate eating times to support optimal performance. However, athletes and their support teams (such as parents, coaches and advisors) often lack accurate information in this regard. Therefore, it is necessary to provide them with the latest nutritional knowledge in order to better support the dietary and nutritional needs of athletes.

Nutrition to improve exercise performance

• Nutrients and physical performance: All nutrients involved in energy metabolism have a positive effect on physical performance, including that of athletes.

• The importance of minerals and vitamins: Deficiencies in specific minerals (such as iron and calcium) and vitamins can negatively affect an athlete’s physical performance, and these nutrients are essential for good nutrition.

• Nutrition and Exercise Table: Research highlights the importance of nutrition in enhancing athletic performance and maintaining health, noting that adequate energy intake is essential for athletes to complete their games.

• Ideal diet: The ideal diet for athletes is similar to the regular diet recommended for healthy people, and requires adequate energy and nutrient intake.

• Training stress and immunity: High stress during training may lead to decreased immunity and increased production of reactive oxygen species in athletes, which may affect the body’s antioxidant mechanisms.

Energy intake and oxidative stress: Athletes’ energy intake below the recommended value (RDA) and avoidance of fat intake may affect immunity and increase oxidative stress, thereby affecting physical performance.

• The need for a balanced diet: Athletes should consume a balanced diet that provides sufficient calories and nutrients to meet the energy and nutrient requirements during exercise.

Risk of nutritional deficiencies: Most athletes fail to meet nutritional and energy requirements, resulting in insufficient fat and glycogen reserves and essential fatty acids and micronutrient deficiencies, which can impair physical performance, immunity and protection against cellular oxidative damage.

• The role of protein: Protein plays a key role in supporting metabolism and immune protein synthesis, and insufficient or excessive protein intake can lead to decreased immunity.

Nutritional supplements used in sports

Lack of regulation of dietary supplements: Due to the lack of effective regulation of dietary supplements, there are many products of varying quality on the market, some of which contain banned substances, such as steroid precursors and certain stimulants, which pose a threat to the health and safety of athletes.

The risks of supplements: Certain supplements contain substances such as ephedrine that have been linked to serious health problems and even death, so it is up to all stakeholders in the sporting world to ensure that athletes are aware of these risks and are provided with proper nutritional guidance.

• Proper use of supplements: While effective nutritional and dietary supplements can enhance energy intake, these supplements alone will not meet an athlete’s energy needs if not combined with a balanced diet.

The importance of research and regulation: More research is needed to provide or discover safer and more effective nutritional supplements, and regulation of supplements should be strengthened to prevent abuse and protect the health of athletes.

• The impact of protein and carbohydrate supplementation: Studies have shown that the composition of protein in the diet has a significant impact on muscle performance after endurance exercise, and soluble milk protein is effective in reducing muscle fatigue. Carbohydrate supplementation can also enhance the performance of endurance athletes.

• The positive effect of nutritional supplementation on athletic performance: By supplementing with protein and carbohydrates, the metabolic processes of protein synthesis and energy storage can be optimized, thereby improving the performance of athletes during competition.

• The role of carbohydrates in sports: Sports performance requires a large amount of energy input and output, and muscle glycogen, as an excellent energy source, is essential to drive movement. Endurance exercise leads to rapid depletion of muscle glycogen, and supplementing with solid carbohydrates can maintain blood sugar levels and improve performance.

Carbohydrate requirements of athletes

Carbohydrate sources of energy: The body gets its energy primarily from carbohydrates, fats and proteins, and athletes should ensure that at least 50% of their energy intake comes from carbohydrates.

• The importance of carbohydrates: Adequate carbohydrate intake is essential to meet high calorie requirements, maintain normal blood sugar levels, and restore muscle glycogen.

Physical activity and BMI: Physical activity levels are inversely correlated with body mass index (BMI), meaning higher activity levels help with weight control.

Carbohydrate intake: Athletes who train for long periods of time or with high intensity should consume 6-10 g/kg of carbohydrate per day to maintain muscle glycogen reserves.

• Dietary ratio recommendations: Athletes should have a diet consisting of 60-70% carbohydrates, 10-15% protein and 20-30% fat.

• Timing of carbohydrate supplementation: Within 6 hours after exercise, simple carbohydrates are more effective than complex carbohydrates in replenishment of muscle glycogen.

• High glycemic index carbohydrates: High glycemic index carbohydrates replenish muscle glycogen faster, and it is recommended to consume about 100 grams of carbohydrates within 30 minutes after exercise.

Carbohydrate intake and fatigue: Although carbohydrate intake can delay fatigue, athletes should consume 26-30 grams of carbohydrate every half hour during exercise to maintain energy supply.

• Recommended intake of sports drinks: When using sports drinks as a carbohydrate source, it is recommended to consume 26-30 grams of carbohydrate every 30 minutes.

• Rate of glycogen synthesis: The rate of muscle glycogen synthesis is affected by the timing of intake; immediate intake of carbohydrates after exercise maximizes glycogen synthesis, while delayed intake reduces the rate of synthesis.

• Effects of carbohydrate-electrolyte drinks: Supplementation with carbohydrate-electrolyte drinks can enhance exercise performance and the clearance of lactic acid, thus delaying fatigue.

Protein requirement of athletes

Physiological role of protein: Protein is used in the body to repair damaged tissues, promote recovery after exercise, synthetase and hormones, transport nutrients, and support connective tissue.

• Protein requirements for athletes: Athletes have slightly higher protein requirements than the general population, with a recommended daily intake of 1.2-2.0 g/kg body weight.

• The impact of protein supplementation: Studies have shown that protein and carbohydrate supplementation can raise blood sugar levels in athletes and may help improve nutrition after exercise.

• Training and protein requirements: The intensity of an athlete’s training and nutrient intake habits determine their protein requirements, and different athletes (strength training versus endurance training) have different protein requirements.

Complexity of protein intake: The metabolic response to protein intake is influenced by a number of factors, including other nutrients in the diet, the timing of the diet, the composition of amino acids consumed, and the type of protein.

• The effectiveness of protein supplementation: Appropriate protein supplementation can significantly improve the recovery of athletes after endurance training, especially before and after exercise.

The importance of nutritional supplements: Many athletes seek additional nutritional interventions, including nutritional supplements, to improve their performance, but these must be matched to the individual’s training and dietary needs.

Calcium requirements in athletics

The importance of calcium: Calcium, along with iron, phosphorus, and magnesium, is essential for several key functions of the body, including maintaining oxygen transport, bone mineralization, enzyme cofactor action, and nerve and muscle maintenance and excitation.

Calcium intake in female athletes: Studies have shown that many female athletes consume less calcium than the recommended dietary intake (RDA), which can affect their bone health and athletic performance.

Bone health and calcium intake: During the teenage years, ensuring adequate calcium intake is important to achieve optimal bone mass and prevent exercise-induced fractures. Calcium supplements have been found to significantly improve bone health.

Calcium requirements and physical activity: Although increased physical activity is beneficial for health, it does not automatically mean that calcium and other micronutrients will also be required to increase. Athletes should supplement their diet with calcium to compensate for the calcium lost through sweat.

• Dietary recommendations for athletes: In order to meet the increased nutritional needs of athletes and replace nutrients lost due to endurance exercise, it is recommended that they always eat a balanced diet rich in protein, energy, fat, minerals, fluids and vitamins.

Drug and nutrient interactions: Before taking any medication, a doctor should be consulted to avoid adverse drug-nutrient interactions that may affect the absorption of nutrients, especially key nutrients such as calcium.

Osteoporosis risk for female athletes: Since female athletes may be at risk for female athlete triad (amenorrhea, eating disorders, and osteoporosis), they need to pay special attention to calcium and other nutrient intake to prevent osteoporosis.

Iron requirements in track and field

• Prevalence of iron deficiency anemia in athletes: Iron deficiency anemia is more common in athletes than in healthy sedentary populations, which not only affects athletic performance, but also seriously affects immunity and physiological metabolic function.

Causes of iron loss: Causes of iron loss in athletes include excessive sweating, urine loss and reduced absorption, and in addition to insufficient dietary iron intake, high iron turnover is also an important factor.

For athletes, especially young women, low-dose iron supplementation under dietary and clinical supervision is recommended to maintain iron status.

Iron deficiency and athletic performance: Iron deficiency can lead to decreased oxygen transport and muscle enzyme activity, affecting athletic performance. Iron-rich foods and iron supplementation are key strategies for replenishing iron reserves and treating anemia.

Effects of iron supplementation: Studies have shown that iron supplementation can significantly improve athletes’ maximum and sub-maximum physical exercise performance, especially in women of reproductive age.

The effects of iron deficiency: Iron deficiency not only affects the hemoglobin and blood volume of endurance athletes, but may also lead to vitamin B12 and folate deficiencies, further reducing physical endurance performance.

Iron supplementation should be done with caution to avoid drug interactions, overdose risk, and intolerance. The effect of iron supplementation may be modest for athletes with preindications of iron deficiency, but it is very important for athletes with confirmed iron deficiency.

Effects of iron supplementation on training and non-training athletes: Iron supplementation significantly improved physical endurance in female athletes who were training, but not in non-training athletes.

Comprehensive iron status assessment: For female athletes, a comprehensive iron status assessment, including immune patterns, nutritional status and biochemical parameters, is required to ensure effective iron supplementation and improve athletic performance.

The establishment of nutrient-rich foods has the potential to enhance the health and nutritional value of sports performance millet

• Nutritional benefits of millet: Millet is rich in protein, calcium, iron and carbohydrates, which are essential for improving athletic performance.

• Protein and carbohydrate content: Millet contains a high proportion of protein (11.5%) and abundant available carbohydrates (64.6 grams per 100 grams), providing abundant energy (395 kcal per 100 grams).

• Health benefits: Millet is a healthy grain with non-allergic and easy to digest properties that help with blood alkalization and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

• For athletes: Millet’s high glycemic index makes it a good source of post-exercise glycogen supplementation, while its antioxidant activity helps improve athletic endurance and performance.

• Gluten-free and non-allergenic: Millet is gluten-free and suitable for all athletes, including those with allergies to wheat or other gluten-containing foods.

• Source of B vitamins: Millet is rich in B vitamins, which help to improve carbohydrate metabolism and energy production, which has a positive impact on athletes’ athletic performance.

The nutritional value of soybean and its effect on soybean performance

• The nutritional value of soybeans: Soybeans are the most nutritious of all beans and contain high levels of protein, energy, iron, calcium and zinc.

• Effects of soy supplements: Soy supplements have slightly positive effects on aerobic capacity and running performance, especially in terms of increasing running speed and reducing lactic acid buildup.

Metabolic rate and aerobic energy: Soy protein supplements have been shown to increase metabolic rate and aerobic energy in moderate endurance trainers, even in the absence of changes in body weight composition.

• Sex hormones and soy protein: The study found a negative correlation between serum male sex hormone levels and soy protein intake, suggesting that soy protein intake may affect lean body mass.

Source of amino acids: Soy protein is the best source of essential amino acids of all plant proteins and is particularly important for muscle recovery and growth in athletes.

• Sensory properties of soy foods: An increased proportion of soy in foods may improve the taste, texture, and flavor of foods, but may adversely affect color. The chemical value of the product increases with the increase of soy content, but may decrease the sensory acceptability of the product.

Studies have shown a strong link between adequate carbohydrate intake, delayed fatigue, and increased physical endurance. A low-fat, high-carb diet is good for exercise because high body fat reduces glycogen synthesis in muscles. Protein is used to repair worn tissue and to promote recovery after endurance exercise. Athletes require a higher calcium intake and may suffer the risk of osteoporosis if they don’t get enough, especially because of increased calcium loss from sweating. Due to increased iron loss due to increased sweating, athletes have lower hemoglobin and serum iron levels in many cases, affecting their physical performance. Millet, soy and dairy products are highlighted as good sources of nutrients to support physical endurance and performance.

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