‘Sports’ is a subject revelled among those who have embraced it. For all sportspersons, it is nothing but a way of life. If you yourself play a sport or two, with the passion of a true sportsperson, you know how it is. From daily exercise to daily practises to nutrition, you plan it to the dot.
There’s a lot of inaccurate sports nutrition information floating around. Various different Myths that make you think twice, wondering if you’re doing something wrong. The only way to cut through the myths and find the truth about how to fuel your body for maximum endurance performance is to look at the science or have someone look at the science for you. Thus, this week’s FYI, with the help of Multi-power, has compiled a set of facts and myths, For Your INFORMATION.
MYTH: The body does not need any extra protein to build muscle.
FACT: A slight additional requirement is often explained by the fact that ‘only’ 20 per cent of muscle is comprised protein. With a muscle gain of five kilogrammes per year, the actual body substance only therefore increases by one kilogramme. Apparently, this additional requirement can easily be covered through food. However, in this calculation, one important aspect is unfortunately overlooked, which is that athletes generally train intensively three times a week to build up muscle. However, an ideal conversion of the training into muscle can only be achieved if the body is then provided with high-quality nutrients. A clear link between protein uptake and muscle growth is also confirmed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
In addition, consuming high-quality protein stimulates the release of beneficial hormones, stimulates muscle protein synthesis, raises the ‘thermic effect’ of the meal (the amount of calories used to digest and utilise it) as well as increasing satiety – helping to reduce snacking on junk foods.
MYTH: Fat-free sweets are better for one’s figure.
FACT: Not always! Unfortunately, fat-free sweets such as jelly sweets, for example, contain about 70 per cent pure sugar. A 300-gram bag therefore contains a whopping 840 calories in the form of 210 grams of sugar. This energy can either be burnt within 90 minutes of exercise or the body will convert it into fat. Unfortunately the adage ‘a moment on the lips, forever on the hips’ is all too apt when it comes to most nibbles. High-quality protein bars are better and can be enjoyed without guilt.
MYTH: Vegetable fats are healthier than animal fats.
FACT: This generalisation cannot be made across the board. Fats with a higher proportion of omega-3 and monounsaturated fatty acids, as contained in oily fish, flaxseed oils and olive oil are recommended. However, oils rich in omega-6 fatty acids such as safflower oil, sunflower oil and corn oil should be avoided.
Damaged fats like trans-fats found in processed foods should also be avoided as these are fats the body has trouble processing and that can interfere with the metabolic processes in the body, helping to cause a number of health issues.
MYTH: Too much protein can cause kidney problems.
FACT: The German Nutrition Association (DGE) has classed a protein intake of 2.0 g/kg body weight per day as safe for healthy people. A moderately higher protein level can even be recommended for diabetics without kidney problems. When combined with an increase in high-quality fats along with a reduction of carbohydrates, the metabolic situation often improves.
MYTH: Fruit juices are healthy.
FACT: False. One glass of orange juice at breakfast and after exercise is an easy way to increase fruit intake. They must, however, be enjoyed in moderation and with anyone overweight, these high-calorie drinks often cause a balanced diet to get out of hand. The recommendation is ‘Don’t drink calories’.
MYTH: Frozen fruit and vegetables lose a lot of their vitamins.
FACT: False. Fresh fruit is of course ideal for providing the body with essential vitamins. If it’s not fresh, however, it doesn’t automatically mean that it’s not good. Frozen fruit and vegetables are picked at their optimal-ripening time when the vitamin content is highest. Shortly after harvesting, they are shock-frozen and packed in light-proof airtight packs. In this way, vitamins are largely retained. With canned food, the loss is higher, but these vegetables and fruit also help to make the diet healthier.
MYTH: Protein shakes make you fat.
FACT: On the contrary, protein shakes are low in fat and calories, so that they reduce the risk of excessive calorie consumption. In terms of the ratio of calories to high-quality protein, shakes come out top!
MYTH: As a woman, I will get big muscles if I drink protein shakes.
FACT: False. Women have lower testosterone levels in their bodies than men. Training using machines and having a protein-rich diet instead tend to tone the body and connective tissue by strengthening the muscles.
MYTH: Water is the best sports drink and colourful drinks in the gym are unhealthy and useless.
FACT: False. Unfortunately, water hardly contains any minerals. Sports drinks are ideal for returning to the body what it loses through sweat in training; they contain calcium, potassium and magnesium and thus prevent headaches or cramp as a result of dehydration.