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18.04.2019


Athletes perform better after four days of healthy eating

Athletes perform better after four days of healthy eating
After reasonably fit students have eaten healthily for 4 days, they run the 5K significantly faster than after they have eaten for 4 days in a way that we have come to regard as 'normal'. Nutrition scientists at Saint Louis University in the US report this in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. The researchers compared the short-term health effects of a Mediterranean diet with those of a typical Western diet.

Study
The researchers got 11 students to run 5 kilometers on a treadmill on 2 different occasions. On one occasion this happened after the test subjects had first eaten unhealthily for 4 days in a typical Western way, on another occasion after the test subjects had first eaten the Mediterranean way for 4 days.

We assume that you know very well what can be unhealthy about a Western diet and what is good & healthy about a Mediterranean diet. To be on the safe side, we stick a figure below that summarizes the differences between the two diet types. Click on it for a readable version.


Athletes perform better after four days of healthy eating



Results
After just 4 days of Mediterranean diet, the students covered the 5 kilometers 6 percent faster than after 4 days of a standard Western diet.


Athletes perform better after four days of healthy eating



The researchers put forward a number of possible explanations for the performance-enhancing effect of a healthy Mediterranean diet.

One is that a Mediterranean diet may inhibit inflammation and free radical activity. Another is that ingredients from vegetable foods, which are abundantly present in a Mediterranean diet, during intensive exertion, inhibits the rise of acidity. A third possible explanation maybe that the large amounts of fruits and vegetables a Mediterranean diet provide more nitrates than a typical Western diet.

Conclusion
"The results from this study show that the Mediterranean diet enhances 5-km running performance when compared to a Western diet", the researchers summarize. "Of importance, these beneficial effects occur in as few as 4 days."

"Although speculative, it seems plausible that other diets that are rich in whole vegetables and fruits and grains and limited in highly processed/refined foods might also have ergogenic effects."

"Findings from this research might incentivize athletes and other exercise enthusiasts to consume healthful diets. This is especially relevant because many of these individuals consume diets that are suboptimal from a health perspective, as evidenced by high intakes of saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium and inadequate intakes of vitamins and minerals." [Am J Clin Nutr. 1989 May;49(5 Suppl):1070-6.] [Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2004 Aug;14(4):389-405.] [J Am Diet Assoc. 1983 Jun;82(6):632-4.]

Source:
J Am Coll Nutr. 2019 Feb 13:1-9. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2019.1568322. [Epub ahead of print].

More:
Adding salmon, green tea, onions, blueberries and grape juice to diet may improve sports performance 17.02.2019
Athletes perform better after six days of spinach, collard greens or beetroot 14.01.2017
Endurance athletes perform better if they avoid these foods 13.02.2015

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