While we strive to provide the best quality athletic development and training services in the country, it’s important to note that the outcomes of the best training will only be fully realized if a strong nutritional foundation is in place.
Nutrition is an important part of an athlete’s restoration from training and shouldn’t be overlooked. A balanced nutritional program that meets the needs of the individual will go a long way in maximizing progress from daily workouts. Here are some general pointers for a sound nutritional program for athletes.
- Athletes should consume approximately 1-2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily. For example, a 70 kg athlete (~154 pound) would need between 70-140 grams of protein daily.
- Consumption of processed foods should be minimized. Processed foods are those not from mother-nature. Examples of unprocessed foods are fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains. Examples of processed foods are candy, bread products, and luncheon meats.
- Alcohol should be eliminated or minimized from the diet as it is an empty source of calories and also puts the body into a catabolic state.
- Not all fats are bad. Certain fats such as those found in olive oil, avocados, nuts, and fish are excellent for vascular health. Saturated fats, such as those found in fried foods, are terrible for vascular health, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
- Not all carbohydrates are good (or bad). Sugars are a type of carbohydrate that should be minimized for their negative effect on energy levels, fat storage, and blood sugar levels. Complex carbohydrates are best because they will provide a more sustained and longer lasting source of energy.
- Not all proteins are the same (part 1). Proteins can be sub-grouped into complete and incomplete varieties. Complete proteins contain all essential amino acids. Incomplete proteins are named as such because they are missing one or more of the essential amino acids. Non-animal sources of protein are typically incomplete but when consumed with other incomplete complementary proteins can effectively be made complete.
- Not all proteins are the same (part 2). Some proteins are digested very fast while others take considerably longer. Consuming easily digestible proteins such as whey protein within 30 minutes following a workout can be extremely beneficial to recovery, especially when combined with a simple carbohydrate. Likewise consuming a slowly digested protein such as casein prior to bed will help keep you in an anabolic state.
- Taking a multi-vitamin will ensure that you are consuming all your necessary vitamins and minerals. Note that these are supplemental to a strong diet and not absolutely necessary.
- Stay well hydrated by drinking water, juice, or teas (preferably unsweetened).
- Red meats should be consumed sparingly.
- Sodium (salt) intake should be minimized except following excessive perspiration.
- Try to maintain stable blood sugar levels by eating several smaller meals throughout the day.
- Minimize empty calories. This means that if a food has many calories but little nutritional value (vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants) you probably shouldn’t be eating it. Candy is an excellent example of an empty calorie food. In contrast, a piece of fruit may have a similar sugar and caloric content but it is packed with vitamins and antioxidants.
- Satiety of hunger is not necessarily an indication that the body has all the nutrients it needs.
- After a workout, a small meal or snack containing both carbohydrates and protein should be consumed to maximize recovery. After a workout, it is also acceptable and advantageous to consume moderate amounts of sugar. This will better help to fuel the energy starved muscles and assist in protein uptake.
- The depth of color of fruits and vegetables is highly correlated with their nutritional value. That is, deeply colored fruits and vegetables such as fresh green spinach or blueberries have better profiles than their less colorful counterparts.
- Consumption of high fiber foods has many benefits. Fiber has been shown to improve vascular health, reduce the risks of certain types of cancer, stabilize blood sugar, and reduce hunger. Try to consume at least 25 grams of fiber each day. To do so, eat whole fruits instead of drinking fruit juices, choose whole-grain products rather than their “white” counterparts when possible and snack on raw vegetables instead of pretzels, chips or candy.
- There are no “miracle foods” or supplements that can supply all of your nutritional needs. Eating a variety of foods rather than the same ones every day provides you with a better opportunity of covering all the “nutritional bases.”