Increased energy needs
The increase in energy expenditure of the athlete must be compensated mainly by a supply of complex carbohydrates such as cereals (bread, pasta, rice, wheat …), pulses, potatoes …
Essential protein intakes
Just as essential as a good supply of energy is muscle integrity. This is why proteins, involved in muscle contraction, play a role of primary importance in athletes. The contribution of protein to muscle exercise is located at three levels:
Renewal of muscle mass.
Distribution of muscle micro-lesions: upon exertion, muscle cells undergo micro-traumatic shocks. These micro-lesions will cause additional protein losses that must be compensated for.
A source of energy as a last resort.
The protein requirements of athletes vary depending on the discipline (1):
endurance sports = 1.2 to 1.44 g of protein / kg of body weight / day
strength sports: 1.3 to 1.5 g of protein / kg of body weight / day (maximum 2.5 g / kg / day – during muscle development).
Increasing the protein intake must take into account many factors including age, sex, type of exertion, duration …
The athlete therefore has significant quantitative protein requirements. To meet these needs through food, we can only recommend to keep in the ration animal products, rich in good quality proteins, such as meat.
Iron, an ally of performance
Iron, which enters the constitution of red blood cells via hemoglobin, contributes to the oxygenation mechanisms of the body. It is one of the minerals lost in significant amounts with exercise, especially in sweat, urine and stools.
In exercises such as the marathon, the micro-shocks associated with the stride cause red blood cells to “burst”; these micro shocks are partly responsible for the increased iron loss.
It is therefore necessary that the athlete be attentive to the coverage of his iron needs. Meat appears to be an interesting food to meet these needs: it is rich in heme iron, iron easily absorbed by the body, and moreover, it promotes the absorption of non-heme iron contained mainly in plants. Note that the iron content of red meats is around two to three times that of white meats.
Red meat and post-effort eating
An old hypothesis prejudged that a dietary protein intake could, in addition to the protein degradation associated with muscle exercise, lead to the production of uric acid which could have harmful consequences on the body. This hypothesis has been verified experimentally and has shown that:
the effort produces uric acid but in limited quantities,
food does not significantly influence the production of uric acid and therefore toxins, whether its proteins are of animal or vegetable origin and whatever the amount of protein ingested.
Including red meat in the post-exercise diet therefore helps to contribute to muscle repair and better protein synthesis, via an absolutely necessary protein intake after muscular exercise.