Protein helps maintain and support muscle formation and repairs within the human body. It can also help with energy. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, they suggest that athletes should consume between 0.5 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight. (6)For example, an athlete weighing 150 pounds would consume between 82 to 136 grams of protein daily. Your best source of protein can be found in the following foods: meats, eggs, beans, seeds, nuts, sprouts, quinoa and nut butters. It is best to avoid proteins with processed soy, dairy, or pork and any lunch meats containing nitrates or nitrites.
Carbohydrates are used to provide energy during a workout or athletic event. Foods that are highly processed or contain sugar unfortunately do not provide the body with adequate nutrition. Over time, processed carbohydrates can cause excess fat storages, low energy levels, and muscle loss. (4)The carbohydrates you want to avoid are the following: white sugar, white flour, fruit juice, high fructose corn syrup, chips, French fries and soda. The most desirable carbohydrates include the following: whole grain breads and pastas, beans, lentils, rice, whole vegetables and fruit.
Fats have a bad connotation but they are actually a great source of energy. They also protect cell membranes, support the nervous system, and carry fat- soluble vitamins from the food you eat in your daily diet. There are two types of fats – saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fat tends to come from animals, such as butter and cheese. Unsaturated fats are from nuts, seeds, fish and plant oils. (4)Some of the most desirable fat sources to include into the daily diet are: nuts (cashews, almonds, pecans, walnuts, Brazil nuts), seeds (sunflower, pumpkin), avocados, coconut oil, fish, nut butters (peanut butter, almond) and cooking oils (grape seed, olive oil, coconut and palm oil).
It’s Game Day, What Should you Eat?
About 60-90 minutes prior to exercise, snacks should be made up of carbohydrates. This helps reduce any negative effects simple sugars may have on the body prior to exercise. This also gives the body enough to reestablish proper hormonal balance. Some examples of carbohydrate snacks to consume are a small apple and 1 teaspoon of nut butter, Banana, graham crackers, oranges and pretzels.
During an event, physical and mental performance improves with the consumption of carbohydrates and protein. A good rule to follow is a 4:1 ratio of foods rich in carbohydrates to protein. Keeping this ratio has shown to reduce fatigue and muscle damage.
After the game, make sure to have a well-balanced meal with adequate protein, carbohydrates and fat. The body will be going into a muscle rebuilding phase for the next 24 hours.
Proper hydration is key for any athlete, which makes it important to consider your hydration prior, during and after an athletic event. If an athlete goes into an event dehydrated, no amount of water consumed during the event is going to get them out a dehydrated state.
Tips on when to hydrate
About 2- 3 hours prior to an event: 17 to 20 oz of water
After the warm up: 7 to 10 oz of water.
During the event: 28 to 40 oz of water for every hour of physical activity (about 7 -10 oz every 10-15 minutes).
Within 2 hours after the event: 20-24 oz of water for every pound of body weight in order to replace the fluid loss from urinating and sweating. (5)
Remember it’s important to monitor an athlete’s hydration levels for signs of dehydration. These signs include: thirst, muscle cramps, weakness, decreased athletic performance, trouble focusing, headache, nausea, fatigue, reduced urine output, dark urine and/or dizziness.
Vitamins and Minerals: There are many vitamins on the market that can help with nutritional support for an athlete. Listed below are a couple of vitamins and supplements, that often times get over looked.
- Vitamin D: The body needs on average about 3,000-5,000 IU of Vitamin D a day to meet its essential needs. Vitamin D helps support bone health and has been linked to muscle development and strength. (3)
- Probiotics: Many think probiotics are only for helping support the GI tract maintain its healthy bacteria, thus reducing indigestion, bloating, loose stools and nausea. That’s not all it can do. A literature review of case studies involving the use of probiotics found a secondary benefit of athletic performance. Those who consumed probiotics had faster recovery times, a healthy immune system and a reduction on inflammatory markers. (1,2)
Not sure where to start or have further questions? If you are an athlete, or a parent of one, it is never too late to reach out to nutrition professional. It is important to start with a comprehensive blood and hair tissue analysis to check on the body’s foundation as a whole. This can help determine what you need to be consuming from a dietary and supplemental standpoint. It can also help indicate if there is something you need to be avoiding. What has worked for someone you know may be completely different than what will work for you. Contact us today to get started and improve your body safely and naturally.
It can also help indicate if there is something you need to be avoiding. What has worked for someone you know may be completely different than what will work for you. Contact us today to get started and improve your body safely and naturally.
- “Probiotics Benefits for Athletes.” Mercola.com, 18 Nov. 2016, fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2016/11/18/probiotics-for-athletes.aspx.
- Curr Sports Med Rep. 2007 Jul;6(4):269-73.
- Ogan D, Pritchett K. Vitamin D and the athlete: risks, recommendations, and benefits. Nutrients. 2013;5(6):1856–1868. Published 2013 May 28. doi:10.3390/nu5061856
- “Nutrition 101 for High School Athletes.” Heritage Integrative Healthcare Articles, 18 Sept. 2014, heritageihc.com/blog/nutrition-101-for-high-school-athletes/.
- “Chapter 25.” Exercise Physiology: Energy Nutrition and Human Performance, by William D. MCARDLE and Frank I. KATCH, Sixth ed., Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2007.
- Schuna, Carly. “How Much Protein Does an Athlete Require?” Healthy Eating | SF Gate, 6 Dec. 2018, healthyeating.sfgate.com/much-protein-athlete-require-3995.html.
- “Nutrient Timing: The Key to Sports Nutrition.” Mercola.com, 29 June 2012, fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2012/06/29/whey-protein-for-sports-nutrition.aspx#!