Sports Nutrition: are you doing it right or wrong? (Part 1)

[ 0 ] 23/04/2014 |

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Guest post by Nutritionist, Mirela Burhuc*


Oh, the summer is coming with quick steps, just few more days I guess and here it is….long lovely days of summer. For me, more play time outside with my child, long walks and touches of the season’s warmth.

I decided to have a look into what people are doing these days and guess what: everyone gets concerned about one thing: how will I get the perfect body for the beach?

Hmm, that is a good thought specially after Christmas time, Easter time and so many other feasts in between. About those moments people remember few things: they ate and drank a lot. And after some time, when the dizziness disappears and your blurred vision comes back on track, you face yourself in the mirror and say: no, no, that is definitely not right!

So…gyms start to be full again, protein powders bring back the huge profit for the sellers and people are walking or jogging along the sidewalks. You can almost hear the dogs: oh, again? No time for laziness and no chance to meet a nice lady, my owner will run me like a …dog. I hate summer!

Do you know why I am here now spending my time in front of computer?

Because I want you to be aware of something: no matter you are a professional athlete or just a simple summer exerciser or a regular one, you all need GOOD NUTRITION. And I want to know if you are taking decisions in the right way or not. And if not, I am here to answer your questions and bring some light into this subject.

What a person who starts exercising needs to know?

First, NO EXERCISE can be done without a GOOD NUTRITION! This is the key of success, being vital to maintain health and boost performance.

Remember that any form of exercise put demands and strains on the body so you should be prepared for it or your nutritional requirements will be altered.

Consequently: the right food and right drinks at the right time gives you the health you need to follow any exercise program.

I don’t aim today to talk about professional athletes because they require more in depth nutritional advice. But I want to talk about regular or summer exercisers, to raise awareness about their body, the changes, the needs, the health risks, the myths once they jump into sport and some of them pushing the limits only because there is such a short time till beaches are getting full again.

Please, bear with me and read a brief introduction into how the energy is produced by your body:

Just imagine your entire system as a huge machine. Every day you put inside the essential macro-nutrients:

  • protein
  • fat
  • carbohydrate

All these are broken down to produce ENERGY. The body uses different biochemical pathways to break down each of the macro-nutrients and the final unit of ENERGY is called: ATP or adenosine triphosphate. This is produced by every cell and has the title of body’s energy currency.

This unit ATP is in fact a molecule consisting of adenosine and three phosphate groups. I know, it is boring, but keep up with me, we will have some fun all the way and trust me, once you will know how the energy is released you will feel much better! When one of the phosphate groups of this small guy ATP splits off energy is released thus converting ATP into ADP – adenosine diphosphate (just change a letter, no big deal!)

This is how the energy produced from the conversion of ATP to ADP is used to carry out muscle contractions and also give off heat. This is the reason why you feel warmer when you exercise.

But when you are not active, muscle cells contain just very small amount of ATP to maintain basic energy needs.

When you start some sort of exercise or activity, your body uses 3 energy systems (for different types of activity or sport):

1. The ATP-PC system – used for short bursts of speed and strength
like during a single jump or 20 meters sprint – about 6 seconds. What is happening here? The protein creatine from your body is combined with a molecule of phosphate and when the system is activated the molecule of phosphate splits from creatine and is added to ADP to regenerate ATP molecules acting in this way for fast, rapid ATP production.
Creatine is obtained from animal protein such as fish and meat but if you are a vegetarian it is difficult to obtain it enough and this is why, maybe you heard that some people when doing sort of sport they are adviced to take creatine supplements.

2. Anaerobic Energy System – this one uses glucose which is broken down from glycogen stores in muscle, to produce ATP and lactic acid. This system it is used for high intensity activities that lasts about 90 seconds: one weight training set, 400-800 m sprint. It is not very efficient system because it produces only 2 ATP molecules and also, the lactic acid gradually builds up causing muscle fatigue. If you didn’t know, the build-up of acidity causes the burning pains and soreness that you experience many times after high intensity exercise.

3. Aerobic Energy System – this system produces energy from the breakdown of carbohydrates and fats in the presence of oxygen. This is one of the reason you breathe faster when you exercise as you need more oxygen. This system can not produce ATP very fast but when it produces it, the amount of it is large. It is used in lower intensity exercise such as walking and long distance running/jogging. One interesting fact is that as glycogen stored in muscle become depleted, the system start to BREAK DOWN FAT for energy. This is one of the reason why low intensity workouts/exercise are favoured for FAT BURNING.

Coming soon with PART TWO when will be discussing more about carbohydrates, fats and protein used in SPORTS NUTRITION and also about a controversial subject: THE PROTEIN POWDERS – healthy or dangerous for your body?

Till next time, plenty of wisdom!


*Mirela Burhuc is a highly educated, strong mummy, with her driving force being the love for her son. She graduated as a teacher from the Faculty of Letters, History and Theology in Galati, Romania, and later on enrolled to the Faculty of Psychology and Sociology. Her studies were interrupted in 2008 when her child got diagnosed with Autism and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder), along with severe mental retardation and significant behavioural disturbance in a hospital for infantile psychiatry. A painful divorce followed shortly after, and since then on her life has followed many different routes. She now lives in Malta and works as a nutritionist; Diploma in Nutrition with Distinction by The Blackford Centre for Nutrition. To achieve the Diploma, she had to pass 15 written assignments, all based on practical, real life clients. You can read more about her story, her services, and get in touch with her on 




Category: Guest posts

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