Sports Nutrition Guide for Athletes and Physically Active You

Athletes and sports activists need to meet nutritional needs that are different from people in general. All nutritional needs, food regulation, to the provision of fluid intake for this group are in sports nutrition. Read the explanation.

What is sports nutrition?

Sports nutrition is the application of nutritional science to athletes to improve performance while maintaining health and fitness. Although closely related to “athletes”, this science of nutrition can actually be applied to you who are physically active.

The application of sports nutrition can help a professional athlete, amateur bodybuilder, even someone who regularly exercises just to maintain his fitness. With proper nutrition, your body can work optimally.

Proper nutrition and fluids will also make your body stronger, reduce the risk of injury, and help you recover faster. In addition, you also have energy (calories) and nutrients according to the type of exercise you are involved in.

The purpose of implementing sports nutrition

The application of a special diet for athletes has the following objectives.

1. Improve performance

The body uses carbohydrates to produce energy and makes fat as a reserve. This energy intake is what allows an athlete to run tens of kilometers, jump high to score, and much more.

2. Increase endurance (endurance)

After the energy from carbohydrates runs out, the body will use fat as an energy source in endurance sports. Fats, fluids, and electrolytes will keep the body stable during long-term competitions such as marathons or long-distance swimming.

3. Build muscle strength

Bodybuilders, weight lifters, wrestling athletes, and the like need nutrients to build muscle mass. They generally also need to follow a special diet to maintain bone strength and resilience.

4. Preparation for the competition

Athletes of each sport certainly need to undergo special preparation before competition. The preparation includes eating patterns for specific purposes, such as increasing muscle mass, reducing fat percentage, and so on.

Energy and nutrient requirements during exercise

Physically active people need energy as well as macro and micronutrients. Macronutrients are nutrients that are needed in large amounts, namely carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. All three are a source of energy for your body.

Meanwhile, micronutrients are nutrients needed in small amounts, such as vitamins and minerals. Although the need is small, micronutrients still have an important role in carrying out normal body functions.

In general, the need for energy and nutrients for sports activists is greater than for ordinary people. All these nutrients have the following functions.

1. Carbohydrates


About 45-60% of your calorie intake comes from carbohydrates. The body converts these nutrients into glucose. Then, glucose goes through a number of processes and produces the molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is what provides energy for muscles.

2. Fat


Fat serves to balance energy, regulate hormones, and restore muscle tissue. In addition, fat is also an energy reserve when the body runs out of carbohydrates. These nutrients fill about 30% of your calorie intake in a day.

3. Protein


The function of protein is to increase the storage of energy reserves, reduce muscle pain, and accelerate tissue repair during recovery. Protein requirements can range from 0.8 – 2 grams per kilogram of body weight, depending on your activity.

4. Vitamins and minerals

Vitamins and minerals

Vitamins and minerals help the process of forming energy and hemoglobin, maintain healthy bones, and protect body cells from free radicals. These micronutrients also play a role in tissue repair due to exercise or injury.

The need to meet fluid needs

Water makes up more than two-thirds of your body weight and plays a role in almost every function of your body. Adequate fluid intake is very important because the body always loses fluids from urine and sweat, especially when you exercise.

Lack of fluids can not only cause dehydration but also reduce performance in training or competition. Loss of fluid as much as 2% of body weight can affect the body’s physical abilities and brain function.

This is why people who are active in sports need to get more fluid intake than the average person. In sports nutrition, athletes are usually also advised to replace lost fluids with sports drinks.

Sports drinks contain electrolytes that maintain the balance of sodium and potassium in the muscles and blood. This drink also helps you to drink more often to maintain adequate fluid in the body.

The need for nutritional supplements in sports

Athletes, bodybuilders, and people who are active in sports may need supplements to improve their body’s abilities and support recovery. Here are various examples of supplements by type.

1. Performance supplements: caffeine, sodium bicarbonate, nitrates, and creatine.
2. Dietary supplements: sports drinks, electrolyte supplements, protein powders, and protein bars.
3. Medical supplements: multivitamins or minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, and calcium.

Provisions for the consumption of supplements in sports nutrition depend on the goals of the athlete concerned. Before taking supplements, consult your doctor or nutritionist to determine which type of supplement is right for you.

Nutrition for athletes with special conditions

Sports nutrition also includes the needs of athletes with a medical condition, following a certain diet, or competing in a special area. Here are some examples.

1. Compete in the highlands. Athletes need iron-rich foods so that their red blood cells are able to bind more oxygen.
2. Compete in hot weather. Athletes need more fluids to prevent dehydration and heatstroke.
3. Compete in cold weather. Athletes skiing, snowboarding, and the like need adequate nutrition and fluid intake to prevent hypothermia.
4. Vegetarian or vegan athlete. People who eat a vegetarian diet, especially vegans, are more prone to protein and vitamin B12 deficiencies, so they need additional supplements.
5. Have certain medical conditions. Athletes who experience anorexia, bulimia, and the like certainly need a different diet.

Exercise is the right way to maintain health and fitness. However, don’t stop. You can optimize your health and body performance by meeting your nutritional needs according to the type of exercise you do.

Meet your energy and nutrient needs. Drink water and electrolytes if necessary. To get the best results, you can also consult further with your doctor or nutritionist before following a certain diet while exercising.

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