Good nutrition is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle. Combined with physical activity, your diet can help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight, and improve your overall health.
The nutrition information below is an overview what we give to our High Performance athletes when they start training with us. The same principles apply to non athletes just the same.
Self discipline on a daily basis will set you apart from the other guys who work just as hard but eat poorly. If you want to perform at an elite level, you need to put the best fuel possible into your body. See the food that you put into your body as fuel in a car. A racecar won’t win on regular fuel. They need the highest octane fuel to push the engine to its limits and stay there.
The athletes body can metabolize only three nutrients – carbohydrate, protein, and fat to provide energy, however, carbohydrate is the primary fuel for the working muscle and the nutrient most important to athletic performance.
The storage form of carbohydrate in the body is called glycogen. When there is plenty of glycogen available in the liver and muscle, there is adequate fuel for even the most intense training completed within 90-120 minutes. When there is not adequate carbohydrate in the diet, glycogen stores can be limited and the athlete may experience fatigue and may not be able to maintain training or play at a high intensity.
A large proportion of calories in an athlete’s diet should come from carbohydrate rich foods. The most sensible way to ensure that recovery occurs and performance is maximized with adequate glycogen on board is to eat a high carbohydrate diet throughout the week as well as loading up on carbohydrate foods during pre-game meals. Excellent carbohydrate rich foods include:
Whole-grain breads – whole wheat, nine-grain, rye, oat, and pumpernickel
Whole-grain cereals – Raisin Bran, Chex, Total, Wheaties, Cheerios, Quaker Oat Squares, Shredded Wheat, Grapenuts, low fat granolas, and oatmeal
Pasta, rice and potatoes – spaghetti, fettuccini, ziti, macaroni, shells, lasagna, noodles, brown or white rice, baked, mashed, roasted, and boiled potatoes
Dried beans and peas – black, kidney, pinto, garbonzo beans, and lentils
All fruits – bananas, apples, oranges, grapes, strawberries, cantaloupe, and kiwi
All vegetables – broccoli, carrots, green beans, tomatoes, corn, peas, and cauliflower
Low fat milk and yogurt – skim or 1% milk, and all low fat yogurt
Pancakes, waffles, french toast and low fat muffins
Protein is composed of complex combinations of amino acids, the building blocks of all body cells. Protein is essential to building and repairing muscle and other tissues, it is the major component of most enzymes in muscle and small amounts are used as an energy source. Essential amino acids cannot be made by the body and must be obtained through dietary protein, whereas, nonessential amino acids are synthesized in the body.
Those athletes attempting to increase muscle size and strength by resistance training should consume:
1.2 to 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day (approximately 0.5 to 1.0 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day)
Excellent sources of complete or high biological value protein are meat, poultry, fish, dairy products and eggs. One ounce of meat, poultry, fish, cheese, or one egg each supplies about 7 grams of protein containing all of the essential amino acids. Skim milk and yogurt are also great sources of complete protein. It is important to consume a variety of protein sources and adequate calories to ensure the optimal utilization of protein in foods.
Protein content of foods
|Milk, skim||1 cup||9|
|Cheese||1 oz.||6 – 9|
|Chicken, breast||1 oz.||8|
|Tuna Fish||1 oz.||7|
|Beef, lean||1 oz.||8|
|Turkey, white||1 oz.||7|
|Kidney beans||1/2 cup||8|
|Black beans||1/2 cup||7|
|Navy beans||1/2 cup||7|
|Peanut butter||1 TBSP.||4|
|Cooked Vegetables||1/2 cup||2|
Besides being an energy source for the body, dietary fat also helps store fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and provides satiety to the diet. It’s utilization as a fuel source increases with the duration of exercise, however, because it is always in ample supply it is never a “rate-limiting” fuel. Exercise training stimulates adaptive changes that increase the ability of the body to use fat as an energy source.
Diets high in fat increase your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. The average person consumes too much fat, with fat contributing as much as 40-50% of the daily calorie intake. Athletes should lower their fat intake to less than 25% of their total calories as high fat diets are not associated with peak performance for the following reasons: 1) Fat requires a long time to digest and does not “sit well” in the stomach during exercise. It slows down food absorption from the gut and leaves the athlete with a feeling of fullness which is not conducive with high intensity training or play: 2) If an athlete is consuming a high fat diet, it is unlikely that they will be getting the carbohydrate and protein that they really need.
Diets composed of a greater number of calories from fat lead to higher percentages of body fat than diets of equal calories derived primarily from carbohydrates. Because of the muscle’s need for carbohydrates, high fat, very low carbohydrate diets are especially dangerous for athletes. These “fad” diets lead to ketosis (blood becomes too acidic which is detrimental to your health).
Below is a list of foods that are high in fat and should be consumed in moderation:
|Margarine||Cream Cheese||Bacon||Fried Foods|
|Mayonnaise||White Sauces||Bologna||Tortilla Chips|
|Salad Dressings||Whole Milk||Hot Dogs||Donuts|
WATER AND FLUID REPLACEMENT
Many athletes are not aware that fluid replacement is their most important performance enhancing aid. Failure to keep body fluids elevated will result in decreased performance and, more seriously, dehydration and heat illness. In the body’s attempt to cool itself, significant body water is lost through the sweating process. During practices and games in the heat, dehydration can occur at rates of 2-5 pounds per hour. Unfortunately, most athletes do not drink enough for total body water replacement.
Drinking water or a sports drink before, during, and after training, practices and games is imperative for maintaining adequate total body fluid. Body fluids lost must be replaced as frequently as possible to avoid dehydration-related decrements in performance and subsequent heat illness. The following are the best methods to stay hydrated and ensure adequate fluid replacement:
- Drink 2 to 3 cups of fluid immediately prior to training, practices and games is strongly encouraged but cannot substitute for drinking fluids during exercise.
- Drink at least 8 ounces of fluid every 15 minutes during practices and games.
- Monitor your weight by weighing in before and after training and practices to document fluid losses. Each pound of fluid lost should be replaced by at least 16 ounces (2 cups) of fluid. Drinking 20 cups of water, juice, and/or Gatorade after a 10-pound weight loss presents its own challenges.
- Carbohydrate-electrolyte replacement drinks (sport drinks) are superior to plain water at replacing fluid more rapidly and completely. They enhance the absorption of fluid as they contain 6-8% carbohydrate and a small amount of sodium.
- Drink without restriction throughout the day and evening to restore fluid, carbohydrate, and electrolytes. This may involve “pushing fluids” in the evening even when you are not thirsty.