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Diet And Drugs In Sport Health Essay

As a sports performer acquiring the appropriate diet and nutrition is key to their health which has a significant impact upon. Health is considered as a state of mental, social and physical well being and therefore is important that certain measures are applied to ensure the three components of health are consistently stable. In terms of the physical aspect of health eating the appropriate diet that contains the right amount of nutrition and macronutrients is recognised as a significant factor in maintaining correct bodily function. Without obtaining the appropriate diet the individual can't supply the nutrients needed for vital organs in order to carry out every day tasks. For example it is essential to an individual's health that their diet contains a vast amount of carbohydrates to supply the body and muscles with the sufficient amount of energy required. Additionally having the correct nutrition such as eating the right amount vitamins is a good prevention of illness and if illness does occur then the nutrients contained can help kill bad bacteria aswell as disease. Eating a health balanced diet is essential for maintenance of health and should desirably contain specific amounts of varying food sources such as carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and fats etc in order for body to function correctly. Furthermore consuming to much or to little can cause negative implications upon health such as eating a vast amounts of saturated fats can lead to issues including high cholesterol levels and obesity of which can be life threatening. Moreover eating to little of a source such as carbohydrates can not supply enough energy to the body and having vitamin deficiency can lead to a disease known as rickets. Therefore to prevent these factors from occurring it is essential to consume the right balance of each food groups during one day.

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A sports performer maintaining positive health is a direct influence on outcome of performance whereby the athlete will have specific diet in which they consume certain amounts macronutrients within their diet related to the activity they are competing in or training for. Elite athletes performing at the highest level have a particularly specific diet created by a professional dietician that will include the exact amount of foods required each day such as so many grams of carbohydrates and proteins etc. This is evident in many professional sports teams especially pre match meals or when in a training period in preparation for an event to ensure the performance is maximised as effectively as possible. When referring to a footballer as a sports performer they will have a diet that is compact with nutrients such as carbohydrates to supply the body with an energy source in addition to protein for muscle growth and the repair of damaged tissue. It is important that as athletes to stick to these diets to allow for performance to be maximised by making efficient use of the adaptations gained from the nutrients. If an athlete is in a training period or days prior to an event the diet can be altered such as carbohydrate loading to supply body with mass amount of stored energy sources. This then also impacts upon the bodies metabolism that they can use up these energy sources in a efficient way that the energy is maximised. Diets are varied dependant upon sports although the same concept still remains for example a boxer will ensure they do not consume to much so that they are of the correct weight for the weigh in however from this point a vast amount of carbohydrates will be consumed for energy and any additional sources that can improve muscle strength or endurance.

The following are a list of macronutrients which are the main food groups a body requires in order to function adequately that should be contained within an individuals diet;

Carbohydrates: Of the four most abundant biomolecules within the body, carbohydrates are significant and make up around 65-70% of the bodies recourses. Carbohydrates take on numerous roles such as storage and allow transportation of energy that include starch and glycogen. In addition carbohydrates are also essential for the following; immune system, fertilisation, blood clotting and pathogenesis. In chemistry carbohydrates are simple organic compounds termed as aldehydes or ketones with many hydroxyl groups added to each atom. The units given for carbohydrates are termed monosaccharides and are examples of glucose, glactose and fructose. Carbohydrates can be classed into the following two categories; Simple sugars such as glucose (lucozade) and complex starches including rice, pasta and potatoes. They are of high significance to athletes as it is the primary source of fuel in particular when relating to high intensity exercises such as a sprinting event in athletics. Carbohydrates are an essential source in order for the central nervous system to function correctly and the recommended intake by an individual is 65% of their diet. Muscle cells and the liver store the intake of carbohydrates as glycogen which are broken down by various enzymes to use them as an energy source. However the amount of carbohydrate that can be stored is limited and therefore refuelling is a necessary requirement by taking in further foods that contain carbohydrates. When exercise is occurring the stored glycogen is converted back into glucose and transported to muscles via the blood within plasma. Once the glucose has been supplied to muscle cells it is broken down my enzymes to create a short term energy store referred to as Adenosine Tri Phosphate (ATP) that stores and releases energy on demand. The glucose metabolism can work in two ways dependant upon the exercise being carried out either aerobic or anaerobic. With regards to a sporting context in the chosen sport of football of which the majority uses the aerobic system, the stored glucose as ATP combines with oxygen in the mitochondria of the sacroplasm to release energy to the muscles via the myglobin and oxygen within the muscle cells allows aerobic activities to be carried out.

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Protein: Protein is recognised as an organic compound and are built up of many amino acids arranged within a linear chain. They are essential regarding for factors involving tissue growth and repair of muscles which are significant to sports performers. Additionally protein produces enzymes, hormones and haemoglobin which can provide energy when both glycogen and fat stores are low. In terms of calorie intake protein should account for 10 to 15% of an individuals diet of which should be sufficient enough for many sports performers. However from my chosen sport of football an additional protein intake may be required when revering from injury to assist in the repair of tissue and the building up strength. Furthermore an additional positive associated with protein is the build up of tissue from exercise. When an individual exercises muscle cells made up of protein are damaged and tears occur therefore the protein repairs this muscles in a much stronger and bigger form. Sources of protein can come from meat, fish, poultry, dairy products and beans.

Vitamins: Vitamins are an organic chemical compounds contained within the body that provide a vital role in terms of energy production and an individuals metabolism, however they are only required by the body in small quantities unlike carbohydrates. The most common vitamins are vitamin A,B,C,D that are needed for appropriate bodily function and can be found in a variety of food sources. An individual can gather the vitamins required from consuming a well balanced diet that include foods containing vitamins such as fruit, vegetable and wholegrain cereals. Within humans there a total 13 vitamins which can be classed into water and fat soluble with 4 being water soluble and the other 9 vitamins being fat soluble. Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water and are readily excreted from the body. Due to vitamins not being readily stored in the body regular intake is required to keep sufficient levels. Additionally there are fat soluble vitamins of which are absorbed through the intestinal tract with the assistance of lipids (body fats). Due to this fat soluble vitamins accumulate in the body and can potentially lead to hypervitaminosis which is an overdose of vitamin storage in the body and can cause poisoning. Vitamins are essential for a humans natural growth and development of cellular organisms. A developing foetus requires significant vitamins as these nutrients cause chemical reactions that allow for production of bone, muscle and skin to develop. Vitamins have a number of influencing factors of physiological processes that have an impact upon sporting performance such as vitamin B are involved in the process of producing fats and carbohydrates. Therefore these vitamins are assisting in providing energy to supply working muscles when exercise is being carried out. Furthermore vitamin B assists in enabling oxygen to from with haemoglobin to produce oxy-haemoglobin in red blood cells. This is of high significance when referring to aerobic exercise to allow oxygen to be transported to the working muscles. Other vitamins such as C and E also have a beneficial impact upon sporting performance especially when considering a high intensity invasion game such as Football as they take on the role of being antioxidants. This becomes important when aiming to prevent oxidative damage to a cells structure and function as exercise training optimises preparation for this. An antioxidant produced by vitamins known as ubiquinone may improve oxygen uptake in the mitochondria of the heart. Theoretically, improved oxygen usage in the heart and skeletal muscles could improve aerobic endurance performance as distribution of oxygen around the body within the blood becomes more efficient.

Fats: Fat is an essential part of an individuals diet as it is a major source of energy in particular when relating to sport such as low intensity and endurance activities. In a state of rest, in the region of 70% of an individuals energy is produced from a fat source of which are classified into the following two groups; Triglycerides (storage of fat) and Fatty acids (usable form of fat for energy production). At room temperature fats can either be a solid or a liquid dependant upon their composition aswell as structure. Examples of edible fats can either be animal or plant fats. Examples of animal fats are aspects such as lard, fish oil and butter. Whereas there is a much broader range of plant fats that include; peanuts, soya bean, sunflower, coconut, olive and vegetable oils. In addition there is also a classification of both saturated and unsaturated fats. Saturated fats are those that consist of triglycerides and are recognised in dairy products such as cream and cheese in addition to animal fats such as chocolate and lard. On the other hand there are unsaturated fats which contain one or more double bonds in the fatty acid chain. In comparable to saturated fats, unsaturated contain less energy therefore have fewer calories and are also of an enlarged shape. Food based examples of saturated fats include avocado, nuts and vegetable oils. Unsaturated fats are recognised as a replacement for saturated fats such as crisps to lower the level of cholesterol. Regarding a sporting concept these fats can build up on the lining on arterial walls contained in the heart. This is known as disease called atherosclerosis where the arteries become thicker due the build up of fatty deposits therefore restricting the amount of blood transported through the arteries when taking away from the heart. If a sports performer is to suffer from atherosclerosis it will cause a significant negative impact upon performance as the amount or volume of blood required to transport oxygen to the working muscles will be reduced and therefore performance in aerobic activities such as football will decrease. However in a positive context of fats, when there is a sufficient amount of oxygen available to the muscle cells, fatty acids provide a energy fuel source as body aims to limit the use of glucose for higher intensity activities which will endeavour delayed effects of muscle fatigue. In athletes whom train on a regular basis can adapt their body to use the fats as a more efficient fuel source. However fat alone cant provide energy due to them being insoluble in water and consequently combine with the stored glycogen. Regarding an athletes diet it is recommended that out of the total calories consumes a maximum of 30% should be fats that will ensure sufficient energy stores and a greater proportion of calorie intake supplied by the carbohydrates.

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Minerals: Minerals are nutrients that like vitamins are required in small amounts by the body however are of high significance in terms of their main function and purpose. Minerals contained within the body are dissolved as ions known as electrolytes which have a fundamental function of maintaining permeability of a cell which involves the active passages of substances and gases out of cells. An additional function is that it aids the transmission of nerve impulses therefore allows for efficient contraction and relaxation of the muscles. Minerals enable the body to build strong bones from the calcium provided in sources of dairy products and can even help maintain a regular heart beat. Some examples of minerals are; Calcium, potassium, iron and water also can be found in red meats such as beef. During exercise of any intensity, minerals can be lost through sweating and therefore must be replaced in appropriate time often by consuming specialised drinks. When referring to minerals there are two groups known as macro minerals and trace minerals. Macro minerals are required in large quantities of which are made up of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, sodium, chloride and sulphur. On the other hand trace minerals are a small quantity of minerals although are important are only required in small doses each day and include minerals such as iron, magnese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride and selenium. Calcium is a prime example of a macro mineral required by the body in terms of building strong healthy bones which are essential when relating to a sporting context. Stronger and healthier bones allow sports performance such as running in football to be more effective as a greater range of movement is enforced also allowing the bones to absorb impact more endeavouring that they are less prone to breakages and fractures. Iron is a significant trace mineral regarding transportation of oxygen around the body. Iron assists in the boding of haemoglobin with oxygen in the red blood cells which allows oxygen to be transported from the lungs to the whole of the body and especially to working muscles via the diffusion gradient. In terms of sports performance such as aerobic activities like football, the greater proportion of iron will allow for oxyheamoglobin to be produced on a more regular bases enabling oxygen to be transported to muscles in a greater quantity.

Water: Water is defined as the combination of oxygen and hydrogen. Water is a nutrient which is essential for sports performers as it carried nutrients towards cells and in the process takes away waste products from the cells and additionally helps to maintain a constant body temperature. In a typical human water makes up in the region of 50-60% of your average body weight with upto a third being contained within the blood plasma. However vast amounts of water can be lost during prolonged endurance activities through sweating and also when facing hot conditions therefore it is critical that taking on fluids are part of hydration is carried out on a regular basis. Dehydration can cause varying amount of detrimental effects on the body during a sports performance and as low as 2% dehydration can impair performance and effect work capacity in numerous ways; Firstly the effect is upon the circulatory system and ability to transport blood around the body as part of plasma which is made up of water. This therefore reduces the amount of pressure within the blood reduces the flow to working muscles to supply oxygen. Lack of water can also adversely affect the loss of electrolytes such as sodium, chloride and calcium which endeavours those minerals cant effectively carry out their function to maximum potential. For a sports performer re-hydration is a significant aspect and can be achieved by consuming a variety of fluids. Drinks containing percentages of carbohydrates can be beneficial during and before the activity as drinks containing more than 6% carbohydrates can top up the bodies energy and fluid stores whereas drinks with less than 6% carbohydrates are consumed during performance to prevent dehydration due to the loss of water through heat and sweat. Isotonic drinks such as Powerade replace the lost fluids and electrolytes as a result of sweating and can enhance the glucose levels in the blood.


Drugs are a chemical based substance that is absorbed by the body which alters the norm in terms of physical and mental body function. Dependant upon the type of drugs taken by an individual they can either produce positive or negative effects and even those positive effects experienced in a temporary manor can endeavour in long term health issues. In terms of drugs there are two types of substances which are individually grouped within their own categorisations. First of all there a legal substances that can be purchased over the counter or prescribed by pharmacists and doctors which can assist a patient in recovering from a health issue. Over the counter drugs are on a wide spectrum and can range from antibiotics to assist in pain relief or fight against a viral infection to calcium tablets taken to supply bones with essential minerals for strengthening and growth. Secondly there are those drug substances which are recognised by law as illegal and are taken by many individuals for a variety of reasons. Illegal substances have an order of classification due to the severity of their symptoms such as Cocaine, a Class A drug, although stimulates the central nervous system to quicken the heart rate and allow the individual to feel alert however due to the increase of blood pressure can potentially cause heart attacks aswell as strokes. Blood Doping and the taking of illegal substances has been associated with sport for many of years in particular with events during the Olympics such as swimming and athletics to enable athletes to improve their performance. However a main reason for athletes doping in sport is mainly due to external factors such as pressure by coaches to win medals, winning will obtain more money for the athletes and the fact that many other athletes are taking illegal substances they feel they have to oblige in order to compete on a fair basis.

Those drugs taken to increase sports performance are known as a Performance enhancing drug. Common performance enhancing substances are those recognised as stimulants of which are a psychoactive drug that allow for temporary improvements in both mental and physical aspects. Examples of some stimulants taken by sports performers are Amphetamines and Ephedrine. Significant reasons why stimulants are used by athletes in football, boxing or cycling is due to the drug being able to reduce tiredness during a performance allowing prolonged duration at a high intensity. The performer becomes more alert in terms of their mental concentration and additionally the drugs allow the individual to compete more as a result of increased competitiveness which is beneficial when opposition are of a greater height, strength and ability. However the side effects need to be made aware of as stimulants can become addictive whereby the athlete depends on the drug for optimum performance and taking a large amount the substance can even lead to fatality. Other arising health issues are high blood pressure referred to as hypertension may be as a result which causes increased strain on the heart to supply the body with the blood which causes wear and tear on the lining of arteries. This constant wear and tear could potentially cause arteriosclerosis where the arteries become hardened due to the loss of elasticity therefore reducing the ability to force blood through the arteries to supply the body with blood.

Its also outside of sport where continued us off illegal substances is still carried out and is referred to recreational drug taking. The concept still remains which is the misuse of psychoactive substances with the reasons for taking them being relatively similar and the side effects being related to a specific drug. However it is more of an addiction that sufficiently explains why drugs are taken on a recreational purpose in addition to influences such as friends, celebrities and the media. Heroin is an example of a recreational drug which is used enhance relaxation by reducing sympathetic stimulation that decreases heart rate and is used by many people who are stressed with underlying mental health issues. Heroin can effect the body in the immediate short term by weakening the muscles due to the reduced blood being transported containing essential minerals for strengthening and growth. Furthermore long term effects can be collapsed veins within the circulatory system that take the blood the heart. On the other hand some recreational drugs are used for treating purposed issue such as depression or phobias in which case this is legal and socially accepted. However taking illegal substances such as MDMA, Cannabis and Cocaine can cause many health issues some of which can be life threatening and for sports athletes can impair sporting performance.

Alcohol is a beverage than contains a chemical known as alcohol and if consumed in excessive amounts can cause implications to individuals health both physically and mentally. Alcohol is termed as a psychoactive drug that has an effect on the body that depressants do by reducing attention and decreasing reaction speed. With any substance there are side effects that include both short and long term and with alcohol effects range from dehydration and alcohol poisoning to metabolism changes within the brain and liver. Alcohol has also been associated with heart attacks in addition to the development of cancer. Furthermore nicotine also effects the body in a negative manner through smoking a form of cigarette and is recognised as both a stimulant and a relaxant drug. By taking a cigarette nicotine is transported in blood from lungs to the brain causing a release of many neurotransmitters such as dopamine which stimulates a positive reward circuit and potentially leading to and addiction. Smoking and nicotine have many side effects to the health of an individual. A major health issue associated with nicotine is the constriction of coronary arteries whereby a build of by products as a result of smoking lay on lining of arterial walls causing the arteries to narrow and restricting the amount of oxygen passing through.

Thirdly a legal and socially accepted way of taking drugs are for specific medical purposes ranging from viral infections to specialised substances aimed and enhancing the recovery of bone or muscular damage. These particular drugs can be purchased over the counter recommended by health care professionals such as pharmacists doctors and nurses. Antibiotic is an example of a of legalised substance taken on the basis for a medical purpose as their function is to kill the growth of bacteria within the body.

The effects drugs have on health, fitness and sporting performance

As previously mentioned drugs can have both a positive and negative effect upon health dependant upon the substances taken such as over the counter drugs are beneficial for treating diseases while illegal substances such as cannabis can have many implications on health. When relating to drugs and health there are certain aspects that can cause serious damage to due to the fact that the body finds it difficult to challenge the drugs that impact upon the bodies defence mechanisms. Many drugs are considered as poisonous for the defence mechanisms to deal with and therefore it endeavours in adverse reactions occurring which explains why many drugs have their own specific side effects. Athletes who also take performing enhancing drugs receive negative effects upon their health despite the benefits they acknowledge their receiving.

A common performing enhancing taken by athletes are known as Anabolic androgenic steroids which are taken to enable muscle strength and mass to be improved upon. The main hormone produced by anabolic androgenic steroids is testosterone which has the following two effects on the body; anabolic allows for improvement in muscular strength whilst the androgenic effects include the responsibility for male traits. Therefore athletes will take these drugs to improve their physical performance due to increased muscle strength allowing for additional explosive power and strength. However there are risks associated with taking the drug that effects males and females in separate ways for example males can start to experience infertility while females can develop increased body hair. Furthermore there are effects that have the same impact upon both males and females that are implications to health. Firstly the steroids can have alternating effects on the cholesterol contained within the body as the beneficial cholesterol ( high density lipoprotein) is decreased while the negative cholesterol (low density lipoproteins) that causes diseases such as atherosclerosis are increased. An additional side effect applied to the misuse of illegal substances are that psychiatric disorders are likely to develop which directly impacts upon the mental health of an individual.

Taking drugs and aiming to improve upon physical fitness are two aspects that aren't considered as a suitable combination to each other. If you are carrying out a fitness programme such as aiming to increase stamina, taking drugs can undermine all it's benefits. Within the components of fitness and individual may require to improve their agility which requires quick reactions and high levels of concentration however taking drugs that are paradoxical to these that calm nerves whilst ensuring the body is in a state of relaxation defeats the emphasis on fitness training. With regards to fitness training and sports performance, athletes may consider taking drugs during the off season in preparation for the event. A misuse of drug that is common in sports athletes are Narcotic Analgesics which are associated with reducing pain. During the off season athletes will take this drugs as it will allow them to train harder through the pain barriers in order to build muscle strength due to the reduction in pain being felt. As a result this is a negative aspect as the individual will not acknowledge the damage being associated with the muscle. As the lactic acid builds up the athlete will feel less pain from cramp and will work through the pain which endeavours in oxygen deficit being extensive as the oxygen cant be transported to the muscles as no recovery period has occurred. Therefore the lactic acid is still condensed within the muscle which is also poisonous that can kill cells in the muscle preventing diffusion and growth from occurring.

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