Nutrition for the Athlete
Sub-optimal fueling results in decreased strength and endurance, poor coordination and concentration, inadequate recover and POOR PERFORMANCE
Carbohydrates are the “fuel” for your muscles. It is the preferred fuel source for high intensity work outs. You also need carbohydrates for endurance work outs. The carbohydrate fuels the energy pathway that allows you to use fat as a fuel source during the workout. 50-65% of your fuel intake should come from Carbohydrates.
Where do they come from? GRAINS: cereal, bread, crackers, rice, quinoa, pasta, legumes. FRUITS: fresh, dried, juiced. DAIRY: milk, soy milk, flavored milk, yogurt. VEGETABLES: fresh or cooked.
Protein is used to build, repair, and maintain body tissues. Protein will provide energy if you are not eating enough carbohydrate or fat. If you aren’t eating enough carbohydrate and fat you will have less protein available to build, repair, and maintain body tissues. 15-20% of your fuel intake should come from protein.
Where does it come from? MEAT: meat, fish. DAIRY: eggs, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, milk.
Fat is a major source of energy for athletes. Fat provides potentially, an unlimited source of fuel during aerobic exercise if you are eating enough carbohydrate. Eat enough fat and carbohydrate and your body will not need to tap into its glycogen reserves (that stored form of fuel in muscle tissue). Fat provides essential fatty acids that are used in every cell of the body. It provides sustained relief from hunger and enhances the flavor of foods. 25-30% of your fuel intake should come from fats.
Where does it come from: MEAT: meat, fish. DAIRY: eggs, cheese, milk, yogurt, sour cream (not fat free). GRAINS: crackers, breads. VISIBLE FATS: nuts, legume or nut spreads, dressing, dips, butter, margarine, almond milk.
Adults are 60% water by weight on average. A hydration loss of 2% can result in poor performance. This is when thirst kicks in so it’s important to drink before you experience thirst.
2 hours before: drink 12-24 oz of fluid
15 minutes before: drink another 8 oz fluid
Drink 8-10 oz of cold water or sports drink every 15 minutes during exercise to delay fatigue.
Drink 20-24 oz of water or sports drink for every one pound of sweat loss.
SPORTS DRINK VS. WATER
Water is suitable for most recreational activities of short duration (less than 60 minutes)
Sports Drinks will replace what is lost during activity:
Cool and non-carbonated
Sodium: provides the drive to drink and maintains sodium balance
Carbohydrate: replace glycogen in muscles and therefore muscle recovery, maintain blood sugar levels, fuel metabolic pathways. Although, high carbohydrate content will cause GI distress, sports drinks are diluted and may have several sources to facilitate absorption. Note: low carbohydrate sports drinks aren’t recovery drinks because they lack the very thing that helps the body recover (carbohydrate), they are an oxymoron.
Nutrition for the Athlete – Iron
Ferritin is the protein in the body that stores and transports iron. It reflects our iron stores.
Protein in the body’s red blood cell that transports oxygen.
Iron is an essential mineral needed for hemoglobin. We get iron from food. Iron in food comes in two forms:
Heme Iron is very readily absorbed (up to 15%) by the human body
Where does it come from? Meat, Fish, and Poultry
Non-Heme Iron is less readily absorbed (3-8%) by the human body
Where does it come from? Eggs, Vegetables, Grains, and some Fruits
Symptoms of Low Iron
Difficulty maintaining body temperature
Poor immunity with frequent bruising or infections
Pale skin color
Work hard in athletics but performance is lower than expected
Possible Causes of Low Iron Status in Athletes
Increased iron excretion through sweating
Low dietary intake or meal skipping
Iron loss through menses
Vegetarian diet without supplementation
Too much fiber in the diet (interferes with iron absorption)
Drinking tea or coffee at meals (can decrease iron absorption by 50%)
Ways to Improve
Include heme iron at every meal if possible
Increase dietary intake of iron sources
Include vitamin C at every meal (increases absorption of both heme and non-heme iron)
Avoid drinking tea or coffee with meals (decreases iron absorption by 50%)
How Much Iron Do You Need?
Women need 18 mg per day
Vegetarian women endurance athletes need 33 mg per day (because non heme iron sources are poorly absorbed).