Firstly I want to write about food and supplements recommended for athletes. Moreover also about useful advices about feeding. The organism of all animals has evolved as a very sophisticated machine that works thanks to an enormous amount of chemical reactions. That is, these are interactions of substances that can have an enormous amount of functions. In fact, there are elements or chemical compounds with a structural function, that is, they represent the bricks with which the organism of living beings is built. That is, for example, there is calcium which is deposited on a protein matrix at the time of bone formation. Then there is sodium or even potassium which are essential for proper muscle functioning as well as for the performance of cellular functions.
PROTEIN AND AMINO ACIDS
In addition, proteins and amino acids in particular are essential for muscle anabolism. That is, for the construction of new fibers when a greater need for physical effort makes it necessary to increase muscle mass. In fact, the body perceives a possible inadequacy of its muscles to withstand a certain type of effort.
It then produces, usually through the liver which is the body’s main chemical laboratory, a series of growth factors. In particular, these factors are of various types. However, there is NGF or nerve growth factor that stimulates the elongation of dendrites and axons by improving the connections between neurons. In addition there is an adaptation of the organism to a greater need for muscle work. Then testosterone, insulin, HGH, IGF-1 are produced. Moreover , chemicals that work together, along with many others, to promote the multiplication of muscle cells. It then triggers a phenomenon called muscle hyperplasia (increased number of cells). In addition, another phenomenon called muscle hypertrophy is also triggered. However, an increase in cell volume therefore increases the internal fibers of the muscle cells, increasing the force of contraction.
Moreover, the body increases its muscle strength by increasing the number of fibers that make up the muscles. It also increases the number of myofibrils. However , the microscopic protein structures present inside the muscle cells. In other words, the need for greater muscle strength is perceived by the body. That is when a greater amount of work occurs continuously. Then begins a process of building new muscle fiber both at the macroscopic level (increase in mass) and at the microscopic level (the microfibrils inside the myocytes increase). Furthermore, the increased workload induces the body to strengthen and thicken the tendons which are the means of contact between muscles and bones.
Again the speech is similar for the adaptation to not heavy but light and prolonged efforts. That is the efforts of the cross-country athlete. For example those who perform the sportsman who runs over distances such as marathon or walk. Or the extended middle distance athlete. That is, those who run 5000 or 10000 meters. Similar to the strength training I mentioned earlier, cross country running also produces changes in the muscles.
SLOW AND FAST FIBERS
To explain better, I want to talk about the different types of muscle fibers. So the main distinction between them is that in LENS FIBERS and FAST FIBERS. Therefore, slow twitch fibers also called red fibers are thinner than fast fibers, use more glycogen and contain enzymes typical of aerobic metabolism. In addition, they contain mitochodra (organelles inside cells that have the function of producing energy) are more numerous and larger in size. In addition, a very efficient capillary network develops which irrigates the muscle.
Moreover the increased oxygen demand during prolonged physical activity favors the production of a large number of red blood cells which are also particularly rich in hemoglobin. In addition there are also fast-twitch fibers also called WHITE FIBERS. In particular, they are poorly supplied by the capillaries and their content of mitochondria and myoglobin is low. But they have a contraction force, on average, three times higher. So they are specialized for short-term efforts. In conclusion, they have a reduced oxygen consumption because they carry out intense efforts but of short duration.
Then the other component of the musculoskeletal system are the bones. In particular, they are formed by a mineral and protein matrix composed of calcium salts and collagen produced by astaoblasts. So they end up staying walled up alive within the mineral and protein matrix they produce themselves. That is, they are called osteocytes and remain dormant within the bone tissue ready to reactivate in the event of fractures to regenerate the damaged portion of bone. Another important component of the musculoskeletal system are the cartilages which are essential for the correct movement and the correct connection between the bones.
WATER AND MINERAL BALANCE
Moreover, a correct water and salt balance is essential for the existence of any living being. For example, a correct muscle contraction regarding the voluntary muscles, the visceral muscles or even the heart muscle. Some minerals such as sodium, potassium, calcium are at the basis of the generation of electrical potentials that allow the animal organism to function. That is, they allow the creation of nerve signals, the exchange of messages between cells, the contraction of all muscles.
There are some supplements recommended for athletes. Moreover there are vitamins and minerals essential for the immune system. That is, vitamin C and selenium. In fact, this vitamin is an important cofactor in the defense processes against pathogens. In particular, as regards the needs of particular substances, we can talk about physiological needs or those linked to particular conditions.
INCREASED PROTEIN NEED
For example, an athlete who practices bodybuilding will have to increase the amount of proteins introduced with food.Therefore he need of supplements and food recommended for athletes. In fact, the maintenance requirement of a person who does not practice sports is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Also a moderate bodybuilder will increase this amount to 1.4 and up to 2.5 grams per kilo. Finally, it could even reach 4 or 5 grams or even more during the competition period.
In particular, the speech is similar even if the quality of the supplements changes for cross-country athletes. In fact, they will have to ingest slow-release carbohydrates. So these days there are maltodextrins which are the ideal carbohydrates for the cross country runner. These modern supplements, if they are of good quality, have the advantage of providing the useful substances without the risk of an overload of harmful substances.
In fact, everyone remembers the scene from the movie Rocky in which the boxer played by Silvester Stallone regularly had breakfast with 5 or 6 raw eggs. Therefore, he thought of the advantage of ingesting with them a large amount of proteins and branched chain amino acids useful for his muscle mass and training. Besides, in those days it seemed like a good thing to ingest a lot of protein like that.
But today we know that raw eggs in high quantities bring a large amount of cholesterol. In addition, most importantly, they contain large amounts of an antivitamin factor called avidin which can be dangerous if taken for a long time. So here is an example of the usefulness of supplements. That is, it is possible to ingest, using a few capsules, the same amount of branched chain amino acids without the presence of harmful fats or dangerous antivitamin factors.
In addition, supplements and food recommended for athletes can be very useful in times of increased need as can happen in the summer when there is a high loss of minerals with sweat or in the winter when the immune system is more stimulated because it needs to protect the body from disease. In addition, these supplements could also be useful in summer when, due to the sun’s rays, the need for antioxidants or beta carotene increases.
doc. Massimiliano Mangafà