Pasta in sport: energy for a perfect engine
Pasta in the Sport is a typical food of our Italian tradition and occupies a place of honor in the food pyramid of the Mediterranean diet. On the market we find semolina pasta or durum wheat semolina, a cereal that has been cultivated for 5000 years.
From a nutritional point of view, pasta has just over 80% carbohydrates mainly in the form of starch, a good content of proteins (10%), however lacking in some essential amino acids (such as Lysine) and a low intake of fats. (0.3%), vitamins and fiber. The situation changes if we consider the wholemeal pasta which is richer in fiber (6.5%), in vitamins of group B and in minerals (K and P). Egg pasta, on the other hand, is richer in lipids (2.5%), in particular in cholesterol (90 mg in 100 g).
To make up for the shortcomings of some micro and macro nutrients in pasta, the Mediterranean tradition has transmitted the use of condiments, such as vegetable sauces, rich in fiber, minerals and vitamins, sauces with fish, a source of omega 3 fatty acids and pasta with meat and legumes to complete the protein intake. Of particular importance is the association of pasta with legumes (peas, beans, chickpeas, lentils, broad beans …) which guarantees a complete supply of essential amino acids, guaranteeing a dish rich in carbohydrates, fibers, minerals, but low in lipids.
From an energy point of view, semolina pasta provides about 350 Kcal per 100 g while wholemeal pasta 320 Kcal and egg pasta 365 Kcal. The dressing will then be another energy source to add.
Pasta has a medium-low glycemic index (which is further lowered if wholemeal), therefore it is
a source of energy consisting of carbohydrates that provide an increase in blood sugar (blood glucose concentration) lower than white bread or sugar for the same amount of time. In other words, it allows you to provide more gradual and more constant energy over time, avoiding sudden insulin fluctuations. This property is given by the complex starch carbohydrates that must be digested, ensuring a more gradual absorption, therefore useful for the synthesis of an energy supply (hepatic and muscle glycogen) important in performance. Obviously, the greater the glycogen supply, the greater the ability to sustain an effort. Excess, however, if not compensated by adequate consumption, will induce an increase in subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissue.
In an endurance sport such as cycling, marathon, triathlon or in any case of endurance, presence
of pasta in the athlete’s weekly diet is essential. In particular, during the competition period, the endurance athlete’s diet will shift towards carbohydrates in the days preceding the performance (up to 60 -70% of the daily diet) also taking into account the practice of carbohydrate refilling.
It will be especially useful the day before a heavy workout or competition that both lunch and dinner feature pasta. The recovery of glycogen stocks after competition or training is also fundamental, an immediate source of energy (foods or supplements with a high glycemic index) associated with a medium-low glycemic index energy source, such as pasta, in the hours. subsequent to the activity, it will allow the restoration of this important source of energy.