Proper Nutrition For Athletes

Athletes aim to  build lean muscle mass  to increase their athletic performance. If you are an athlete, the important key to achieving your muscle gain goals is to have proper nutrition and calorie intake for your workout routine. Most competitive athletes know that not all calories are created equal.

Eating healthy foods from well balanced diet menu and thus getting the right calories is a must.

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Once you have the the obligatory nutritional base covered you may want to explore some supplements. But let’s first review the basic components every athlete needs to be mindful of getting.

Carbohydrates

proper nutrition for athletes - carbohydrares, picture

Carbohydrates are the leading energy resource for building strength in muscles. Carbohydrates are stored as glycogen in the muscles to provide energy for short, explosive bursts of exercise. The harder and longer you workout, the more carbohydrates your muscles need. If your stored glycogens are exhausted then you will feel a drop in energy and find it very difficult to continue exercising. If you continue to work out without any energy stores then the body will start burning muscle instead of fat reducing your exercise effectiveness. You can see why eating enough of the proper foods for good carbohydrates is important when building muscles  through strength training.

Protein

for proper athlete nutrition protein, illustration

In order to build muscle your body needs protein because it is the foundational building block for muscle tissue. The amount you exercise and body weight will both play a factor in how much protein your body requires. You should consult a nutritionist or personal trainer to determine the proper protein uptake you need but a general rule is around half a gram of protein per pound of body mass for average athletes. If you are serious about strength training and workout 5 or more times a week you may want 0.6 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

Burn Fat, Build Muscle

Even though your ultimate goal is to burn fat and  build muscle  you need to include some fat into your diet to keep your body healthy. This will help your body burn fat and keep muscle along with giving you some wiggle room in your diet. You should aim for 25% of your calories to come from unsaturated fat.

Additional Hydration, Nutrition

Athletes require more than the dubious standard eight glasses of water a day to replace the fluids lost during an intense workout. Please make sure that the quality and purity of water you drink is supreme. It should have no chemicals like chlorine and fluoride but it should also not be completely deminerilized. Kangen water is  recommended by some athletes. It is a good idea to consume about a liter of water during a workout and 2 cups of water before and after your workout. This will ensure your body does not become dehydrated during an exercise routine lessening the impact of your efforts.

Another option is a protein shake designed as a meal replacement; although this may just be a snack if you are really pushing hard. It is important to recharge your body after exercising with protein, carbohydrates and hydration so that your body is fully fueled for the next intense session. This will help promote fat burning after your workout and complement building muscle mass in future workouts.

proper supplement for athletes nutrition is protein drink

Nutritional Supplements For Athletes

There are many nutritional supplements touted as the best thing ever however trained athletes should know that some of these products could be gimmicks. Since nutritional supplements are not regulated by the FDA there is a lot of room for stretching the truth. Seasoned strength trainers do utilize a few supplements including whey protein powders, creatine and fish oils.

 

Creatine

Creatine is a supplement that helps muscles recover from a workout and is a good way to speed up muscle building when coupled with a solid diet and exercise regiment. Creatine occurs naturally in some meats but you can take about 5 grams for 5 days for an extra boost. It is a good idea to rotate creatine usage to maximize its affect in building muscle. Many athletes take it for 5 days then take 5 days off and start using again. Be aware that if you take creatine everyday eventually it will lose effectiveness.

Green Tea

green tea benefits athletic performance by reducing oxidative stress

The benefits of green tea are numerous. It is very rich in antioxidants which are important for protection from oxidative stress and excellerated aging. Green tea has been around for thousands of years and has no known side effects. It increases metabolism and helps burn fat.    Green tea extract    is one supplement that no athlete should overlook.

Remember to always consult a registered nutritionist and qualified physician before you start taking any new or additional supplements.

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By: Mark Simon

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Athlete Nutrition Guidelines, Healthy Muscle Gain

The goal of virtually every athlete is to give their body the necessary nutrition which will help them  gain muscle for best performance  and keep the body lean and free of excess weight. It can be achieved through healthy diet for weight loss and muscle gain.

In my experience as a trainer and athlete coach I have found these nutrition guidelines to be of great help.

Proper Nutrition For Athletes should include the following 8 items

Pure Water

Simply outstanding. My home town is in the tropics and I realize that our tropical climate makes water requirements even higher than usual.

benefits of drinking water illustrated, young athlete

Every other beverage is inferior so you really don’t need anything else. Even low levels of dehydration (1% of bodyweight lost in sweat) cause big drops in performance and health. Having water on hand makes you less likely to drink other nonsense drinks.

Benefits Of Drinking Water

Water improves flexibility and muscle tissue quality. It also lubricates joints and is good for your skin health and appearance. Water aids digestion and is essential for cellular level chemical processes. Drinking regularly will help prevent overeating. Cold water even burns a couple more calories each day (which does add up in the long run).

Performance wise, proper water intake will reduce cramping. In my experience, I have found that the key component for preventing my athletes from cramping during competition is not fancy sports supplements or magic foods.

The key is hydration. Colored urine is a no-no for any of my guys. Once they learn how effective this simple strategy is I don’t need to nag anymore. Bring pure water with you everywhere and drink constantly. More pee breaks are a decent tradeoff for the huge amount of benefits that water gives you. Bring clean water around with you everywhere. Uh…the bottle is for water so that you are reminded to drink enough.

Unprocessed Meat

I want to be clear that you must really see that the meat is from a natural source not a processed one, and for that it’s helpful to think of meat as animals. If you are seeing a piece of chicken, you can imagine that it was once a living, breathing animal. This is harder to do when you see a chicken cracker or chicken sausage which are vastly inferior to actual piece of chicken.

Get lean cuts of meat. Animal fat is saturated and gets you those dreaded heart complications if you eat too much of it. Lean cuts of any meat are really great sources of protein. Chicken, beef, pork, lamb, deer, ostrich. Yup all good. If possible go for the grass fed or “free range” meats because they have a better omega-3 to omega-6 ratio. But if that’s too expensive on inaccessible then its not the end of the world. Get the regular meat and make up the ratio via healthy omega-3 fats like fish oils and flax seeds.

Eggs

Top notch source of protein. Minimal saturated fat (only 1.5g per egg compare this with 10-15g per hamburger patty). I can’t believe there are even doctors and nutritionists that tell us 2 eggs per week are all out bodies can handle. Parents say “no eggs kids, they are dangerous” but let’s go to a fast food restaurant and eat jumbo sized triple patty burgers…hard to figure out, but happens all the time. Did you know that the saturated fat in one hamburger patty is equal to that in 8-10 eggs?

Personally I eat about 6 eggs on average per day. Whenever I take a blood test, my good cholesterol is high and my total cholesterol is at the low end of normal. Eggs… they’re fantastic!

Nuts

High in monounsaturated fat. This means less heart disease, faster metabolic rate and better testosterone levels. Nuts are also high in fiber and taste really good. Keep away from the fried, oiled or salted ones. Get them raw and toast them yourself. They taste great and are a great healthy snack. Different nuts have different ratios of fat types, so eat a variety of types. Macadamias, almonds, cashews, peanuts, pistachios – all good.

proper nutrition for athletes includes nuts, illustration

Natural peanut butter is included in this category. Get those from supermarkets where they grind the nuts for you on the spot. The slight increase in cost is probably worth it over the overly sugared, artificial fat laden regular peanut butter.

Olive Oil

Also a great source of healthy fat. Olive oil raises good cholesterol, contains vitamin E, which acts as an antioxidant, reduces risk of colon cancer, lowers the risk of gallstones and is a good salad dressing. What’s not to like.

Fruits And Vegetables

Carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap since the days of the super low-carb Atkins diet which is still recommended by some personal trainers in Singapore and elsewhere. I believe Atkins is a better idea than a high refined carbohydrate diet but it is not a total health system.

Far more important than total carbohydrate intake however, is the type of carbohydrates that you eat.

Fruits and vegetables should be your main carbohydrate sources. Eat all kinds and all colors. Fruits and vegetables have huge amounts of micronutrients and anti-oxidants. Green vegetables also tend to have cancer preventing properties and the ability to help those who have high blood pressure. Fruits and vegetables also are high in fiber and taste really good as well.

Beans

Beans are great sources of fiber (benefits of fiber listed above). They also have protein but its vegetable protein which is inferior to animal protein. The list of good beans is long. Peas, lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, navy beans (there are many more types as well) are all good.

Green Tea

Green tea is a great source of potent antioxidants, manages to lower total cholesterol, improves good to bad cholesterol ratio, tastes decent, and has 0 calories. The   benefits of green tea   are indisputable. Make sure to take advantage of this amazing, thousands of years old and proven beverage. This, along with water (as mentioned above) should be your main drink.

Get the above foods into your diet and watch your health levels improve fast. You have nothing to lose and plenty to gain by using and implementing my athlete nutrition guidelines.

By: Coach Jonathan Wong

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