Welcome to the Proper Nutrition for Athletes page!
I’m not a nutritionist but I have learned a lot over my years of hitting the gym. I hope to give you the information that took me years of researching and trial & error.
Much of what you consume has to do with your body weight. For example, a 150 pound man wouldn't consume what Arnold Schwarzenegger did during his prime. If you took in the 5,000 calories like Arnold did, you would likely just pack on the fat. It is difficult to find the exact amount of calories you need in a day but as long as you are close you should be ok. If you get too many calories you risk packing on extra fat and if don’t receive a sufficient amount of calories you won’t be reaching your greatest potential.
First, you will want to find out how many calories you need to consume per day. You can figure this out by multiplying your body weight by your specific activity level. You can check out my BMR Calculator, which does this for you. I’ll do mine in text to show you how it is calculated.
For weight loss
Multiply: Your Weight X 10 to 12
For Maintaining Weight
Multiply: Your Weight X 13 to 15
For Gaining Weight
Multiply: Your Weight X 16 to 18
My caloric intake requirements for gaining weight are 190 x 16 = 3040 and 190 x 18 = 3420. So this is the range of calories that I am going to want to be between every day. You have to make sure that the calories come from the right sources of nutrients. A great general rule is the 40-40-20 rule. This means that 40 percent of your calories would come from Protein, 40 percent from carbohydrates, and 20 percent from fats. For simplicity I’m going to say my daily calorie requirement is 3300 calories. So the break down would be:
Carbohydrates:3300 x .4 = 1320 calories
Proteins: 3300 x .4 = 1320 calories
Fats: 3300 x .2 = 660 calories
These equations have showed me how many calories I need to receive from each macronutrient in a day. Since the nutritional facts on food don’t list calories we need to realize how many calories are in a gram of each. There are 9 calories in a gram of fat and only 4 calories in both carbohydrates and protein. This means that you need to divide each of the previous equations by the amount of calories in it. For me this would mean:
Carbohydrates: 1320 / 4 = 330 grams
Protein: 1320 / 4 = 330 grams
Fats: 660 / 9 = 73 grams
This is roughly how many grams of each I would need to consume in a day of bulking.
Alright, so we just figured out how many calories you need in a day based on your goals and weight. Specifically we learned how many grams of carbohydrates, protein, and fats you need with regards to your set amount of calories. Now, let’s take a little time to understand more about these three macro-nutrients.
No nutrient is more important for building and maintaining muscle than protein. Protein is essential in proper nutrition for athletes. Protein is the natural building block of muscles. Protein is involved with building, repairing, and maintaining muscles. Without adequate protein intake your body will never reach its full potential. This is because protein is made of 9 essential amino acids, meaning that our body cannot make it by itself, so we have to consume them through eating. These essential amino acids are Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Valine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, and Tryptophan. There are actually 11 other “non-essential” amino acids that our body can make from the essential amino acids. These “non-essential” amino acids consist of Alanine, Arginine, Aspartic Acid, Cysteine, Cystine, Glutamic Acid, Glutamine, Glycine, Proline, Serine, and Tyrosine. These terms “essential” and “non-essential” are misleading because all 20 amino acids need to be present for the body to maintain its operating efficiency. Some great sources of protein can be found in nuts, grains, vegetables, dairy products, supplements, and every type of meat.
There have been many diet plans that aim to keep the individual away from carbs. Carbs almost have that same negative stigma as fat. So many diets now are always promoting the reduction of carbs. This is just ridiculous to me because our bodies are made to burn carbohydrates. This nutrient is especially important in proper nutrition for athletes and bodybuilders because it gives you the energy you need to work through a long workout. Carbohydrates are essential in proper nutrition for athletes. So don’t skimp on your carbohydrates!
Now there are two different types of carbohydrates; simple and complex. You want to eat complex carbohydrates because they keep you fuller longer and give you longer lasting energy. Some foods that are complex carbohydrates are brown rice, oatmeal, potatoes, and whole grain cereal. It is better to avoid simple carbohydrates as they do a bad job of keeping you full and giving you long term energy. Some examples of simple carbohydrates are candy, puddings, soda, and even fruits.
The word fat usually scares people, but it shouldn’t because it is essential in proper nutrition for athletes and for our bodies to be healthy and perform at optimal levels. There are different types of fat some fats are really healthy for our bodies and some are actually not very easily digested by our bodies.
These are the fats we want to stay away from. The body has a really tough time digesting these fats so it easily gets turned into fat cells. Saturated fat also increases cholesterol which clogs arteries increasing the chance of heart attack.
Saturated fat is usually found in meats but can also be found in the oils that plants produce such as olive oil, coconut oil, and palm oil. Some foods that commonly have saturated fats are deep fried foods, fatty snacks, and dairy products such as cheese.
Polyunsaturated fat is usually liquid at room temperature, unlike saturated fat. Polyunsaturated fat comes in two different types Omega-3 and Omega-6. These fats are usually found in fish and are said to reduce cholesterol. This type of fat is really helpful in proper nutrition for athletes so I (and most doctors) recommend taking some type of supplement.
These fats are usually found in vegetable oils such at olive oil and almond oil. Monounsaturated fat is also believed to reduce cholesterol.
So, your body can actually benefit from polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats for many reasons. The only catch is even though they are healthy they are also high in calories and you can still easily put on fat.
Water is essential in almost every metabolic process in the body. Dehydration can cause any athlete to feel sluggish and will also hinder recovery time. It is important to stay hydrated throughout the day. You should be drinking around 0.5-1 Liters of water per each hour of exercise. I like to carry around a jug or bottle of water each day so that it is always available.
Staying hydrated is even more important in proper nutrition for athletes if you taking supplements that can cause dehydration. A good example of a supplement like this is creatine. When I am taking creatine, I usually double the amount of water I drink so that I can take full advantage of the creatine benefits.
One of the best things you can do to keep your metabolism up is to eat smaller meals more frequently. This gives your body a constant source of energy and it eliminates the need to store body fat. This is essential in proper nutrition for athletes because athletes need a high amount of energy.
If you are only getting 3 meals a day you need to shoot for 5-6. To do this, in between meals have a protein shake. A protein shake will:
There are really no down sides to protein shakes because they are great inexpensive sources of balanced nutrition. Protein supplements are extremely helpful for proper nutrition for athletes.