The Absolute Basics Of Nutrition

Basics of nutrition
nutrition

Eating is possibly the most critical piece of the performance puzzle. Without a well-constructed nutrition plan, there is a good chance that performance is being left off the table. Finding the right balance of micronutrients as well as seeing the right macro and micronutrient timing could be the difference between making it to nationals and being injured. Yeah, that’s a pretty big analogy, but it’s true.  But like anything we do in the sport, it is essential to know why we eat a particular food and what it does for our body. So let’s break down the BIG three. But first, let’s talk about BMR. The basics of nutrition go a long way.

BMR

Basal metabolic rate is the minimum amount of calories the body needs to perform regular bodily functions while the body is at rest. This number is what we need to use to stay the same weight and to allow for the body to not eat into extra reserves. I found the easiest way to find your BMR is to multiply your body mass by 10 and you have a basic number that is within 1 and two hundred of the actual amount. So a 200lb male athlete will need to consume 2000 calories to just stay at the same weight while resting.

Now when it comes to increase in activity the extra carbs on training days will cover the extra burning of calories. Now if the goal of an athlete is to gain or lose than the bar must be adjusted. And a good general rule of thumb is to add or subtract 500 calories to the BMR. The increase in calories will first come from fat but with the increase in body weight the amount of protein will increase, and everything will then stabilize.

Protein

Considered to be the most important macronutrient when it comes to performance due to its regenerative capabilities of muscle tissue. But this macronutrient is more important than just repairing broken down tissue.

Protein itself is amino acids, Some of which our body can produce, but there are eight that our body needs to get from the foods we eat. And each one of these 8 has a separate and important role when it comes to bodily function. For the sake of performance, however, let’s take a look at 3 of the 8 EAA, Leucine, isoleucine, and valine.

Leucine is important because it aids in the recovery of muscle tissue after exercise. It is also responsible for regulation of blood sugar. As well as providing the body with energy, It can be used as a substitute to glucose in a fasted state.

Isoleucine is a derivative of leucine that is responsible for blood sugar regulation.

Valine is responsible for aiding in muscle metabolism. As well as muscle repair and is used to help treat liver and gallbladder disorders.

These three amino acids are found in almost all animal protein sources. They are also the main ingredients of many over the counter supplements.

It is important to know that protein is on the lower side of caloric output having only four calories per gram of protein.

A good guideline to follow as an athlete is to intake anywhere from .75-1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. So, for example, a 200lbs athlete will have anywhere from 175g-200g of protein per day coming preferably from clean protein sources including fish, chicken, eggs, lean beef, and whey.

Moving on to what I feel is the most important macronutrient when it comes to performance, the dreaded carbohydrate.

Carbohydrates

DON’T EAT CARBS! As so many “paleo” athletes say. Or those who believe a ketogenic (lack of carbohydrates making the body use ketones as energy, formed from protein) diets. Well, What I have to say to that is show me an Olympic athlete who is on a ketogenic diet, and I will show you a liar. I am a firm believer that carbohydrates are pivotal when it comes to the overall performance of an athlete and here is why. Glucose is the bodies go to form of energy. It will always use it first if it is available. Just like a Ferrari needs the best fuel, so do our bodies. Trying to get your body to perform at an extremely high level using ketones is futile and completely unnecessary. Now you can break carbohydrates down into many levels. For the sake of

I am a firm believer that carbohydrates are pivotal when it comes to the overall performance of an athlete and here is why. Glucose is the bodies go to form of energy. It will always use it first if it is available.

Just like a Ferrari needs the best fuel, so do our bodies. Trying to get your body to perform at an extremely high level using ketones is futile and completely unnecessary. Now you can break carbohydrates down into many levels. For the sake of

It will always use it first if it is available. Just like a Ferrari needs the best fuel, so do our bodies. Trying to get your body to perform at an extremely high level using ketones is futile and completely unnecessary. Now you can break carbohydrates down into many levels. For the sake of simplicity, let’s break them down in too fast acting, medium acting, slow acting, and not acting (dietary fiber).

Not All The Same

A fast acting carb is a food that is mostly comprised of sugar. Something that is digested quick into the bloodstream and ready to use immediately. Like a pop tart for example. These carbohydrates are great to use during a session or just before a session.

A medium acting carb doesn’t get immediately digested and put into the bloodstream. It will take some time to get into the bloodstream. I like to think that white rice is an excellent example of this type of carb. I would recommend eating a carb of this sort an hour or 2 before a workout and an hour or 2 after a workout.

A slow acting carb takes over an hour to get into the bloodstream. Something like this would include brown rice, whole wheat bread, and even chocolate. Dark chocolate of course. This type of carb is good for breakfast of 3-4 hours before and after training. This types of carbs could cause digestive distress and cause discomfort while training.

Dietary fiber is extremely important to the human body. It aids in digestion as well as helping regulate blood sugar. It is important for male athletes to eat at least 35g of dietary fiber per day and females at least 25g of dietary fiber per day. A good example of these would be Bran.

The Basics of Nutrition

All carbohydrates, however, contain only four calories per gram. Making them at the same calorie output as protein. The intake of carbohydrates should be monitored, however. And should be scaled depending on the demand of the athlete.

Any athlete doing highly intense exercise should consume between 2.5g to 3 grams per body weight. The medium intensity between 1.5g-2g per body weight and on low or rest days should consume no lower than 1g per pound of body weight.

Ex. 200lb athlete

HI: 500g-600g

MI:300g-400g

LI: 200g

Fats

Lipids are an important part of any person’s diet. They are the most calorically dense macronutrient having nine calories per gram. But like anything else the quality of the fat is important. Without going into what’s bad for you and what’s good for you. Because let’s be honest nutrition is a trending swing and what one person believes to be good for you it is the last thing to ingest to someone else. So let stick to the basics here. What my own opinion is on what type of fat is the best to ingest. I feel like animal fats are what should be stayed away from, and vegetable oils (avocado, olive, and coconut) should be consumed in replacement. They are usually way more micronutrient-rich as well as contain easier digested forms of fat.

Fat is also responsible for some bodily functions including, hormone transport, fat-soluble vitamins, energy use, and even insulation of organs. These services are vital to athletic performance as well as simple day to day life performance.

Figuring out the fat requirements is much debated just like much of nutrition. I like to find fat requirements by finding the remainder of the daily caloric balance after accounting for carbs and protein and then dividing it by 9 to get the gram amounts.

Nutrition example:

200lb athlete on resting day

Protein: 200g= 800calories

Carbs: 200g= 800 calories

Fat: 800+800=1600

1600-2000= 400

 

To read more on nutrition read this article on supplements for athletes. 

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