At The Training Table
Here are some basics sports nutrition and dietary tips for athletes. As a certified Sports Nutritionist, I must make the information clear as there are a lot of other influencing factors at play when considering a healthy nutritional path for serious athletes. There are 101 diets out there that can be a detriment to the serious athlete's performance. Every athlete is different, diet plans should be based on the type of training each athlete partakes in.
If you are participating in 60 to 90 minutes of physical, high intensity activities, you will need a diet that is going to support the energy requirements of those activities. If you are trying to loose a few extra pounds, this dietary approach may not be for you.
Carbohydrates release 4 calories of energy per gram when used by the body as a source of energy.
An athlete's body needs to be able to endure long bouts of physical activity. That means their body needs lots of available energy to fuel and sustain that activity. Carbohydrates are an athletes "primary fuel source'. Consuming enough carbs helps build stamina and endurance. Our body converts carbohydrates into glucose, which is a form of sugar, and stores it in your muscles as glycogen, "roughly 600 grams". The liver can hold 100 grams of glycogen.
There is plenty of (glycogen) stored fuel in the muscles if you are exercising for less than 60 minutes, even for high-intensity activities. The best way to attain these carbs are from complex and very complex sources of food.
For activities beyond 60 or even 90 minutes, carbohydrate loading (AKA "Carbo-loading") will help you sustain a high workload output. Typically the fuel you consume the days before will pay great dividends for tomorrows training or event activities. For the athlete, 60-65% of your diet should come from carbohydrates for performance. By doing so it tops off your glycogen stores in preparation of a vigorous training session each day.
Sugary or starchy foods speed up dehydration, so avoid their consumption 30 minutes before an activity. Replenish your glycogen stores with carbohydrates after intensive exercise. Preferably less refined carbs such as a whole-grain bagel or carrot sticks.
Something you may not know about carbs; Carbs are also a source of energy for the brain and central nervous system. The lack of carbohydrates can lead to loss of concentration and increased fatigue. Let me be completely clear. If you are an athlete the main purpose of carbs are for energy and recovery and must be a primary staple at your training table.
Carbs can also be found in vegetables such as:
Asparagus 2.1 carbs 18 calories
Broccoli 2.9 carbs 25 calories
Carrot 4.8 carbs 26 calories
Yam 21.5 carbs 97 calories
Celery 21 carbs 5 calories
Onion, Spring 6 carbs 23 calories
Cauliflower 3.3 carbs 22 calories
Sweetcorn 15.7 carbs 90 calories
Proteins do not provide a great deal of fuel for energy, but are vital for maintaining muscle and preventing muscle loss. There are only 4 calories in 1 gram of protein.
The average person should intake 1.2 to 1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. Which equals about 88 grams of protein for a 150-pound person. 15-20% of an athlete's diet should consist of protein. A strength athlete may require up to 1.7 grams per kilogram of body weight, which is about 150 grams of protein for a 200-pound athlete. Research shows that whey protein is absorbed quickly, which helps speed up recovery time after an event or strenuous exercise. Gravity Force Whey Gravity Force Whey also contains calcium, which is important for maintaining strong bones.
Getting enough protein can be a tricky sport for the vegan or vegetarian athlete. No all plant based foods are a complete source of essential amino acids. To make sure you are getting all of the essential amino acids, the vegan/vegetarian athlete needs to pair certain plants to ensure your body is getting the adequate amounts of proteins to supports your training needs. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and are found in a variety of foods. Meat, milk, cheese, and egg are "complete proteins" that have all the essential amino acids. Other sources of protein include whole grains, rice, corn, beans, legumes, oatmeal, peas, and peanut butter. Protein is essential to the structure of red blood cells, for the proper functioning of antibodies resisting infection, for the regulation of enzymes and hormones, for growth, and for the repair of body tissue.
During long bouts of training, marathoners, cyclist and triathletes, your body utilizes fat for energy when carbohydrate sources are absent.
Athletes should attain all the good fat they needed by adhering to basic and well balanced dietary guidelines, which consist of unsaturated fats from foods such as nuts, avocados, olives, vegetable oils, and fatty fish like salmon and tuna. 20-25% of an athletes diet should consist of good healthy fats. There are 9 calories in 1 gram of fat.
During intense bouts of exercise, especially here in the hot Sonoran desert of Arizona, can rapidly leave athletes dehydrated. Dehydration can be life threatening and can destroy an athletes performance. The rule of thumb is to drink prior to activity, drink during and often. Waiting until you are thirsty is far too late. An easy way to determine if you are dehydrated is to monitor the color of your urine. If your urine is extremely dark or scant, that's a clear indicating sign you are dangerously dehydrated.
Your urine should be a pale yellow color, which means you're well hydrated. Because intense exercise makes you lose fluid quickly via sweating, it's a good idea to hydrate before as well as during an event.
Endurance athletes such as marathon runners or long-distance cyclists should drink 8 to 12 ounces of fluid every 10 or 15 minutes during an event. When possible, drink chilled fluids, which are more easily absorbed than room-temperature water. Chilled fluids also help cool your body down.
Athletes lose fluids and electrolytes via sweating. Electrolytes aid in the transmission of nerve signals to muscles and other vital organs and functions in your body. It is extremely important to replenish them and to do so fast in order to maintain a high level of performance. For the best fluid and electrolyte balance, try to dilute sports drinks with equal amounts of fluid.
Again, every athlete is different and the training needs are totally based on the type of activity that athlete is participating in. Theses as simply general nutritional guidelines for athletes.