What to put on your plate for a sporty start? “You can’t eat just anything and perform in matches”, analyzes Cécile Capdeville, nutritionist with the French Triathlon teams between 2017 and 2021. For this former high-level volleyball player, food is one of the factors to enter the professional world. “In a group, everyone follows the same training. To stand out, you have to play on other factors such as diet, sleep or stress management”.
“I don’t like to talk about diet”, abounds at first the one who was the nutritionist of Olympique de Marseille between November 2020 and June 2022. “Food rebalancing” is the exact term. It is a matter of making changes to your diet that are essential for the proper functioning of the body.
“Bad sugar” is one of the most common traps. It is found in the majority of already prepared dishes, white bread or even certain drinks. “These products, which have a high glycemic index, are quickly assimilated by the body. Result, a reaction hypoglycemia, followed by a craving for snacking. This leads to new food intake and promotes weight gain,” warns the nutritionist. For Cécile Capdeville, “this phenomenon caused by the consumption of foods with rapid glycemic indexes all day also explains why today a certain part of the population is increasingly overweight”.
Before choosing a product, you have to look at the glycemic index, measured on a scale of 1 to 100. The lower the index, the slower the food is assimilated, which allows gradual diffusion in the body. . And the feeling of satiety makes it possible to delay the food intake that follows. On the other hand, during a physical activity, whether it is a match, a marathon, or a bike ride, a food with a high glycemic index is recommended in order to be able to quickly provide the body with the substrates necessary to provide energy.
“During the day, the ideal is to drink two liters of water, to clean the excesses of the summer”, explains the specialist. Homemade detox cocktails, based on lemon and ginger, can be interesting for the body.
As for sugary drinks, Cécile Capdeville warns. “You have to differentiate energy drink and energy drink”. Energy drinks are interesting for sessions lasting at least one hour, because they provide sugar, salt, minerals (magnesium, potassium) lost during exercise”. On a physical and sports activity of less than an hour, the effort drink (thus sweet) is useless.
Energy drinks or sodas are to be banned. They are full of sugars, additives and other substances harmful to the body, especially the digestive tract. “The intestine is the first organ damaged during exercise, so the athlete has every interest in pampering this precious organ. We have already seen many times triathletes with abdominal pain or footballers complaining during half-time, ”continues the nutritionist.
For the greediest, it is better to drink it after the effort. For 30 minutes, there is “a metabolic window that allows you to have fun without gaining weight, even if you still have to protect your intestine after exercise”.
“We must forget the sweet breakfast, with milk, cereals and orange juice, not very satisfying in the long term”. The specialist recommends turning to a salty meal, based on proteins, quality carbohydrates and fatty acids rich in omega 3. Among the recommended foods, wholemeal bread, cottage cheese, ham, eggs, oilseeds, fruits fresh, not fruit juice.
For lunch, “divide your plate: half vegetables, a quarter of protein and a quarter of whole carbohydrates”. That is to say pasta or brown rice or potatoes in pieces. And if possible avoid dessert, even fruit. “In some people, a fruit can block digestion, cause bloating.
Between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., a sweet snack, made up of good sugar, such as dark chocolate, fruit or, in the event of sporting activity in the evening, oilseeds or a dairy product.
To end the day, a light dinner with vegetables, such as a mixed salad or ratatouille. To this, add a lean protein, such as chicken breast or fish. For a vegetarian, you can replace with vegetable proteins, such as lentils, chickpeas, soy, etc. “Be careful all the same with the risk of deficiencies in certain nutrients, in particular iron, vitamin B12”, warns Cécile Capdeville, who recommends for vegetarians and vegans a follow-up by a professional.