Essential Nutrition For Athletes



I’ve made a career as a fitness model and competitor, but most people don’t know that before the photo-shoots and stage appearances, I spent most of my life playing sports. 

Baseball and football consumed much of my time before I entered the fitness realm, but even though I spent years on the field, it wasn’t until I hung up my cleats and prepped for the stage that I focused on my diet and learned its impact on performance. 

Over the course of my fitness career, I’ve read many research papers, hired multiple nutritionists and coaches, and educated myself on how to manipulate my body the way I want. If I had known then what I know now, I would have performed at a much higher and efficient level during my athletic prime. Now I am hitting PRs that outperform the lifting stats from my collegiate years, and I attribute this to a better understanding of nutrition and supplementation. 

ATHLETES AND NUTRITION

Athletes need their bodies to function properly for the workload and demands placed upon them. They must push, pull, and move objects, run, jump, sprint, throw, think, and make decisions all in a split second. 

A great athlete can ward off fatigue, and maximize his endurance, stamina, strength, and power to perform at peak levels.

How do you become a great athlete?

Well, that is done through practice, practice and more practice–but proper nutrition, timing and supplementation can easily improve your body’s ability to handle athletic demands.

NUTRITION PROFILE

Macronutrients are the major elements of any diet and consist of protein, carbohydrates, and fats.

Protein is built up of amino acids and is essential for the makeup of body tissue, muscle, hair, bones, collagen, and even serves as a backup source of energy.  

Carbohydrates are the body’s primary fuel source for anaerobic activity. During an anaerobic activity, VO2 max and elevated heart rate make it very hard to hold a conversation due to the stress put on your body. This is the time when carbohydrates are most effective for fueling your body. If your sport involves a lot of anaerobic activity then you will want to make sure you have an ample supply of carbohydrates stored in your body to be called upon for energy release.

Fats are another critical element of your diet that provide insulation to your organs, regulate body temperature, and promote healthy cell function. Fats are also used for energy during aerobic exercise. Sports that allow you to have a conversation comfortably during activity would fall under aerobic.  

Aside from your macronutrients, water and sodium play a major role in your efficiency as an athlete. When you are sweating and performing at a high level you are burning calories, and excreting water and sodium from your body. You must replenish these substances to help keep alert and keep your muscles primed to act and react. With the right nutrient profile, you can perform longer while keeping fatigue at bay. 

YOUR NUTRITION GUIDE

Protein, carbohydrates, fat, water, and sodium all have their place in an athlete’s magic cocktail. While it’s difficult to give direct calculations for each person without looking at a multitude of factors, such as BMR, goals etc., below is a rough percentage guide that you can adjust to fit your own calorie goals. It gives you an approximate amount of each macronutrient you will need based on timing and energy output. 

3 HOURS BEFORE PRACTICE/GAME

  • Consume 25% of your daily water intake
  • Have an actual meal– moderately salted foods or add sodium. Avoid fibrous meals–no roughage

Energy Output High (Anaerobic Exercise): Protein 25%, Complex Carbs 70%, Fats (trace–only 5% or less).

Energy Output Moderate (Aerobic/Anaerobic Exercise): Protein 20%, Complex Carbs 45%, Fats 35%.

Energy Output Low (Aerobic Exercise): Protein 40%, Carbs 10%, Fats 50%.

30 MINUTES BEFORE PRACTICE/GAME

  • Consume 10% of your daily water intake
  • Heavy salt or sodium food, or add to Pre-workout
  • Keep fiber low
  • Think quick and easy--meal replacements, bars
  • Grab a pre-workout suitable for your sport to support energy and focus

Energy Output High (Anaerobic Exercise): Protein 15-20%, Carbs (Complex 40%, Simple 40%), Fats (trace--only 5% or less). BCAA, Beta Alanine, C4 Sport

Energy Output Moderate (Aerobic/Anaerobic Exercise): Protein 25%, Carbs (Complex 20%, Simple 20%), Fats 35%. BCAA, Beta Alanine, C4 Sport

Energy Output Low (Aerobic Exercise): Protein 30%, Carbs (Complex 10%, Simple 10%), Fats 50%. BCAA, C4 Sport.

DURING PRACTICE/GAME

  • Drink liquids when thirsty
  • Snack on foods like fruit that can be easily broken down.

Energy Output High (Anaerobic Exercise): 50-80 grams simple carbs each hour you’re playing. BCAA, Caffeine.

Energy Output Moderate (Aerobic/Anaerobic Exercise): 20-50 grams simple carbs each hour you’re playing. BCAA, Caffeine.

Energy Output Low (Aerobic Exercise): 10-20 grams simple carbs each hour you’re playing. BCAA. 

IMMEDIATELY AFTER PRACTICE/GAME

  • Replenish with fast-digesting carbs and lean proteins

Energy Output High (Anaerobic Exercise): Protein 40%, Carbs (Complex 15%, Simple 40%), Fats (trace--only 5% or less). Whey Protein, BCAA, Creatine, Vitamin C, Immunity Support.

Energy Output Moderate (Aerobic/Anaerobic Exercise): Protein 40%, Carbs (Complex 15%, Simple 40%), Fats (trace--only 5% or less). Whey Protein, BCAA, Creatine, Vitamin C, Immunity Support.

Energy Output Low (Aerobic Exercise): Protein 40%, Carbs (Complex 20%, Simple 20%), Fats 20%. Whey Protein, BCAA, Creatine, Vitamin C, Immunity Support.



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