One of the basic pillars of a good athlete is food, both in terms of improving his / her performance, as well as in improving the long-term health status, caused by the degeneration of physical exercise.
For a correct diet, the athlete has to eat food / supplements in order to meet the energy needs, not only regarding to calories, but also to all macronutrients (fat, carbohydrates and protein) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).
But in reality, when it comes to food fat, the first thought that comes up is " I will put on weight" and that fats are harmful to our health and you should avoid their regular consumption. However, this thinking is not entirely correct.
Fat has several functions in our body such as: providing energy; transport of some nutrients, such as vitamins (A, D, E and K); maintenance of body temperature; maintenance of cellular and muscular structure; between others.
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Even in an athlete, fat is an essential and important nutrient in the diet, as are proteins and carbohydrates. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the portion of fat in the diet must be between 20% and 30% of the total daily energy value.
In the daily diet we can find different types of fats, the "good" - unsaturated fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated) and the "bad", harmful to health. But almost all has an essential role for the body:
- Saturated Fat: present in foods of animal origin (red meats, milk and dairy products) performs physiological functions, when consumed in excess it raises the “bad cholesterol” (LDL).
- Monounsaturated fat: this fat can be found in foods of plant origin, such as olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocado. Its consumption is essential to reduce the levels of inflammation, blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases and triglycerides, when its consumption does not exceed 20% of the total calories.
- Polyunsaturated fat: found in fatty fish (sardines, mackerel) rich in omega 3 or vegetable oils such as sunflower rich in omega 6. The consumption of this fat subtype is important to control cholesterol levels and prevent the risk of cardiovascular disease .
- Trans and Hydrogenated Fat: found in processed products (chips, cookies and crackers, margarine, fast food). It promotes the increase of “bad” cholesterol (LDL), triglycerides, among other risk factors for health. This type of fat has no nutritional advantage.
When consumed in the right dose and when choices are made consciously (reducing / eliminating saturated, trans and hydrogenated fat), the consumption of fat is beneficial for our body.
In the case of athletes, we should not recommend the consumption of fats during or immediately before the workout , as this nutrient is digested more slowly than proteins and carbohydrates, which are the most indicated during this period.
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By Adriana Martins, Nutritionist
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