University of São Paulo: Carbohydrate deficiency does not meet the effort required by female soccer players

An unprecedented study on nutrition in women’s football, developed jointly by Danish researchers in Sports Science and USP, indicates that a considerable portion of high-level athletes do not have adequate energy intake. In an interview with Jornal da USP in Ar 1st edition , Maysa Souza, a researcher at the Medical Investigation Laboratory (LIM/18) at HC/FMUSP, talks about the impact of nutrition on sports performance.

The advancement of studies on nutrition and sports performance is striking because of the imbalance found in the current scenario. “What draws our attention is that not only in football, but in all sports, in general, there is a great concern with the consumption of nutritional supplements, such as whey protein creatine . The vast majority of athletes still believe that these supplements will be essential for improving their performance, but when we evaluate these athletes, we realize that they are concerned with the ‘top’ of the pyramid and the base is completely in imbalance, which would be foods with carbohydrates, proteins, fats”, evaluates Maysa.

According to research, the general diet is not in line with the general expenditure during training and competitions. The researcher highlights: “A large portion of these athletes have low consumption of carbohydrates, the main fuel for them during training and competitions. The deficiency causes them not to meet the energy demand and caloric expenditure and this can considerably compromise their performance. In addition, in the long term, they cause damage to health, since carbohydrates are fuel for the immune system, for the muscles”.

Importance of a balanced diet
Guidance and exposure of the importance of a balanced diet are seen as fundamental parts in prioritizing the performance and health of athletes. “Guide them that during training it is essential for them to ingest carbohydrate-based supplements, which are energy drinks, to meet this high caloric demand during training. These would be the basic guidelines that we would give to the athlete, worrying about the base, if he is eating rice, beans, bread and pasta”, points out Maysa, who also indicates the importance of worrying about the base of food and respect this in the different phases of training. “It’s no use making use of nutritional supplements if you have an inadequate base.”

The study, Nutritional optimization for female elite football players , published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sport , highlights the researcher’s last note: “The presence of nutritionists in the monitoring of athletes of any sport is essential”.

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