Having the correct diet is something basic when it comes to health and searching for the best possible performance. The phrase “we are what we eat”, sometimes erroneously attributed to Hippocrates, is a reality that the sports community is thankfully applying. Some years ago it would have been uncommon for a group of cyclists not to eat a coffee slice, a donut or other industrially produced pastries. Nowadays, it is a lot less common to see this, including with those who are not doing sport to compete in an event but are looking to enjoy a pleasant morning with friends and forget the work-life stress.
With regard to what food supplements add, the answer lies in what we are unable to obtain from our diet. That is to say that there are specific substances that our diet lacks, ones that can be replaced by using food supplements. It is clear that after a tough training session, protein, for example, is required. It is not only far easier, more comfortable and economical but also more hygienic to drink a 20g protein shake than it is to eat 100g of chicken. Similarly, it is equally better for digestion, ease of absorption, obtention of macro and micronutrients, hygiene and appealing to use an energy gel or sports drink with minerals and vitamins during training or competing than it is to eat some bread covered with chocolate spread or a piece of cheese, even if it is appetizing.
There are times when the body is pushed to its limits due to extensive, physical exertion, which is why it requires specific quantities at specific moments that a normal diet is unable to provide. For example, it is evident that the piece of bread covered with chocolate mentioned above requires more water and digestion time than an energy gel or sports drink.
By Jesús Sánchez Bas and Guillermo Olcina Camacho.
Original font: Revista Triatlón