Judith Haudum

Why Athletes Shouldn't Skip Meals

Athletes find themselves in a very specific situation. Many have a very high energy demand due to the intense energy expenditure in training. They need to support their training with energy, especially during intense and long sessions. It's not easy to meet this energy demand, and many athletes struggle with it. Sometimes it's due to a lack of knowledge, sometimes they underestimate their needs, and sometimes it's because of poor food choices. In any case, it's crucial to eat frequent, regular meals. This maximizes training performance and prevents long periods of low energy status and negative energy availability.

Meal Frequency in Sports

Considering the high energy demand of athletes, it's challenging to meet it with just three or four meals. That would mean having to eat very large meals, but the energy availability wouldn't be optimal for training or training adaptation. If one wants to make the most out of their day, getting the timing right is important, and sometimes eating six or even more meals is necessary. Yes, athletes need to eat a lot and more frequently than sedentary individuals. Ultimately, this also facilitates weight management and supports favorable body composition—a not insignificant aspect in many sports.

Brief Comment on Breakfast

A widespread myth is the claim that one gains weight if they've never had breakfast and decide to start eating it. There is no scientific evidence for this. While it's true that people who eat breakfast consume more calories throughout the day, they also burn more calories during the day. Those who eat breakfast tend to be more active, meaning reintroducing breakfast doesn't automatically lead to weight gain. Of course, it depends on how the breakfast is composed, but it should be balanced anyway.

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