Prunes in the nutrition of sportsmen
Regular sports activities and balanced nutrition are the basis of a healthy lifestyle. It is therefore recommended to practise sport. It might be regular or occasional, with competition or not, a physical activity usually also means balanced nutrition. Energy intakes have to be carefully adapted to the energy expenditure generated by the sports activities. For instance, energy expenditure may increase from 80 or 100 kcal/ h (1800 to 2400 kcal/day) to 400 and even 800 kcal/h during exercises of medium to high intensity.
During a physical exercise, muscles use glucose. To compensate this loss, sportsmen require more carbohydrates. The glucose may reach 55 to 70% of the energy intake according to the daily expenditure.
Heat produced by the body during exercise is regulated by the evaporation of sweat. Water and minerals losses may be very high too (from 1 to 3 l/hour) and have to be renewed during the effort.
Physical exercise requires more water, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins and vitamins which have to be compensated.
What to drink during an effort ?
Consumption of so-called sports drinks is necessary to bring water intakes during the effort according to the losses (0.3 to 1.5 l/hour). Fruit juice with dilution between 2 to 4 times to reduce the sugar rate from 200 to 50 g/l and a pinch of salt are excellent intakes during physical exercise.
In this aim, Prune juice, rich in potassium (3,7g/l), iron (10 to 15mg/l), magnesium (120 to 200mg/l), calcium (180 à 225mg/l) and zinc (5 à 9,5mg/l) constitutes a very interesting solution. Moreover the natural vitamins contained in prunes (E, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, C, E,...) compensate for sweat losses. That is a real asset for sportsmen’s health.
What are the appropriate carbohydrates for sports activities ?
All food does not contain the same rate of carbohydrate. There are two kinds of food: high glycemic index food with a rather fast assimilation and low glycemic index food with a longer assimilation. For physical and sports activities carbohydrates with high GI are more adapted.
The consumption of fructose and glucose during exercise is more performing and delays the exhaustion or prevents from small discomforts.
For training, minor competitions or for competition with a continuous effort over long periods involving oxidation of fatty acids (marathon, triathlon, trecks, trails, and cross-country skiing...) carbohydrates with lower GI have to be privileged.
Prunes are perfectly adapted for physical exercises thanks to their glucose rate (24g/100g), fructose (15g/100g), sorbitol (10g/100g), soluble fibres (4,9g/100g), insoluble (4,1g/100g) and a glycemic index of 52. They also produce a satiety effect that avoids snacking. They are low fat and have an energy density (42kcal for 20g) which is quite lower than other products (for instance: 130kcal for 20g in a chocolate bar). Prunes contain vitamins and minerals which are not definitely in other foods, in particular potassium (800 mg/100g), neutralizing the acidity produced during exercise and magnesium (45mg/100 i.e.13% of advised nutrition intakes), the lack of which may lead to low performances, cramps or injuries.
For exercises of more than 2h30, it is also advised to ingest every 30 minutes, small quantities of carbohydrates in solid form in addition to the drinks. Alternance of dried fruit with pulp such as prune is perfectly adapted.
Not only interesting for their nutritional qualities, Agen prunes also provide well being and pleasure. Their taste, their image of natural and local products, easy to use, with long preservation, ideal fruit size, prune is the best partners of sportsmen.