L’alimentation, un facteur de succès pour les athlètes.

Grâce aux progrès de la science, les sportifs de haut niveau sont de plus en plus conscients que le contenu de leur assiette a un impact sur leur performance.

Pour l’expert en nutrition sportive Benoît Lamarche, le lien entre l’alimentation et la performance ne fait aucun doute. Cet ancien patineur de vitesse de haut niveau, qui a participé aux Jeux de Sarajevo et de Calgary, est aujourd’hui professeur à l’École de nutrition de l’Université Laval, chercheur à l’Institut sur la nutrition et les aliments fonctionnels et coauteur d’un récent ouvrage sur la nutrition sportive, Le Soulard des sportifs. Il a notamment travaillé avec l’équipe de patinage de vitesse longue piste lors des Jeux de Vancouver.

La recherche a démontré de façon très claire qu’une alimentation bien ciblée chez le sportif de haut niveau peut avoir un impact significatif sur la performance.

Benoît Lamarche

Mais on ne sait pas jusqu’à quel point, parce qu’il est très difficile d’isoler cet élément, précise-t-il.

La diète idéale

Alimentation diffère d’un athlète à un autre.

Il y a autant de diètes idéales qu’il y a d’athlètes. Le plongeur n’a pas les mêmes besoins que le marathonien, par exemple, autant durant l’épreuve que durant l’entraînement, souligne l’expert.

Mais une chose est sûre : tous les sportifs ont besoin de carburant pour faire fonctionner leurs muscles. Et ce carburant se trouve dans les glucides (aliments sucrés, produits céréaliers et fruits, entre autres) et les lipides (huiles, noix ou encore gras déjà stockés dans notre corps).

Les repas gargantuesques de Michael Phelps

En 2008, le nageur américain a dévoilé aux médias son menu typique lors de l’entraînement. Douze mille calories par jour, comparativement à environ 2500 pour un individu moyen du même âge. Gigantesques plats de pâtes, cargaisons de sandwichs, pizza à volonté, le tout arrosé d’un déluge de boissons énergisantes. Le médaillé olympique, qui participe aux Jeux de Rio, avoue aujourd’hui qu’il ne mange plus autant qu’à cette époque.

Le chercheur Benoît Lamarche a des doutes devant le régime de Phelps en 2008. À son avis, il est impossible pour un athlète de soutenir très longtemps un régime aussi riche en calories.

Les débuts de la discipline

Le développement du Gatorade, au milieu des années 60, a donné le coup d’envoi à la recherche dans le domaine de la nutrition sportive.

Il s’agit de la première démonstration de grande envergure qu’une petite boisson sucrée avec un peu de sel et un peu de citron améliorait la performance sportive des joueurs de football. Presque un conte de fées pour les chercheurs, souligne M. Lamarche.

L’évolution de la nutrition pour les athlètes

Benoît Lamarche précise que la recherche dans le domaine de la nutrition sportive est relativement récente, puisqu’elle n’a commencé qu’il y a une trentaine d’années.

Pas étonnant qu’à l’époque où il faisait carrière comme patineur de vitesse, dans les années 80, on parlait peu d’alimentation.

Le livre de nutrition sportive avait deux ou trois pages, dit à la blague Benoît Lamarche. Son menu quotidien ressemblait à celui du Québécois moyen, multiplié par trois! Pâtés chinois fois trois, lasagne fois trois, six sandwichs, des desserts à profusion et beaucoup de boissons gazeuses, se rappelle-t-il.

Aujourd’hui, les nutritionnistes ont une place au sein des équipes multidisciplinaires qui encadrent les athlètes

Les pistes de recherche

De nombreuses recherches se déroulent présentement pour tenter de mieux saisir l’effet de l’alimentation sur la performance, explique Benoît Lamarche.

Alimentation Equilibrée pour les Athlètes de Haut Niveau.

Par exemple, les scientifiques veulent comprendre quelle est la quantité idéale de protéines (viande rouge, volaille, poisson, œufs, produits laitiers, entre autres) pour la récupération musculaire. Les chercheurs tentent aussi de mesurer l’effet réel des suppléments alimentaires, de plus en plus populaires chez les athlètes.

En regardant les Jeux olympiques de Rio, Benoît Lamarche verra donc non seulement l’exploit physique des athlètes, mais aussi, en filigrane, tous les efforts, ou non, qu’ils auront déployés pour bien s’alimenter.
Source:
Radio-Canada
2016-08-12 | Mis à jour le 14 août 2016
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