Protein serves many functions in our bodies including: they are the major structural component of a cell, they are used for growth and repair of body tissues, they produce hemoglobin, enzymes and hormones. Energy also can be produced from protein.
Protein is the building block for muscles. Not having enough protein in your diet can not only hinder your performance, but it can lengthen your recovery time, too.
Without proper protein intake, recovery takes much longer and the muscles cannot rebuild as well. Athletes who do not consume enough protein are also more prone to injury because their muscles have not properly recovered before the next workout during periods of high training.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is a modest 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. The RDA is the amount of a nutrient you need to meet your basic nutritional requirements to not get sick. Don’t let this number fool you, this is the absolute minimal amount a human needs not taking into account age, sex, and activity level.
The International Society of Sports Nutrition says that exercising individuals need approximately 1.4 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day. (About 15 percent to 25 percent of daily calories) The amount is also dependent upon the mode and intensity of the exercise, the quality of the protein ingested, and the status of the energy and carbohydrate intake of the individual
- Lean Protein Sources
Any fish (tuna, salmon, etc…)
Any seafood (shrimp, scallops etc)
Any meat 90% or leaner
Whey protein (Egg whites (count in grams of protein, not ounces)
3oz of lean meat ≈ 18g of protein
4oz of lean meat ≈ 24g of protein
Carbohydrates are a major energy source for our bodies, especially during high-intensity exercise, they regulate fat and protein metabolism, they provide energy to our nervous system and synthesize muscle and liver glycogen.
Simple carbohydrates give you a rapid boost of energy, but will leave you sluggish soon as a result of the rapid digestion. These carbohydrates include: sugar-sweetened beverages and high sugar sports drinks, candy, as well as whole natural fruit.
Many simple carbohydrates unlike fruit, contain refined sugars and few essential vitamins and minerals. People usually consider these as bad carbohydrates.
Complex carbohydrates digest slowly and give you a balanced source of energy without the crash. These carbohydrates include, beans, potatoes, whole grains, legumes and vegetables.
- Healthy Carbs
Rice (any type)
1 small handful ≈ 1 cup
The acceptable macronutrient distribution range for carbohydrates is 45 percent to 65 percent pf daily calories or 5-13g per kg of body weight. This very wide range accounts for training intensity, sex and total daily energy expenditure.
Two separate studies conducted by Berardi (2006) and Ormsbee (2014) found that when simple carbohydrates such as glucose were consumed within 60 minutes of exercise, there was a significant increase in muscle glycogen replenishment and a decrease in muscle recovery time.
When athletes waited longer than 60 minutes to replenish with carbs, they experienced longer muscle recovery times because of depleted glycogen. Athletes should also be cautious about eating carbohydrates 15 minutes to 45 minutes before exercising due to possible hypoglycemia and early exhaustion by depriving our muscles of their primary energy sources.
Complex carbs are your best choice for sustained energy two to three hours before a workout. They are also a good choice for the post-workout recharge.
A general rule of thumb is to experiment with your body and start by trying to consume between 0.5 and 1.0 grams of carbs per kilogram of body weight before and after workouts, more for endurance and less for strength training.
Fat is an essential component of cell membranes and nerve fibers, a primary energy source, supports and cushions vital organs, acts as insulation, transport fat-soluble vitamins and all steroid hormones are produced by cholesterol.
Trans fats are a byproduct of a process called hydrogenation that is used to turn healthy oils into solids and to prevent them from becoming rancid. These are fats that we should ultimately stay away from. Common sources of saturated fat include red meat, whole milk and other whole-milk dairy foods, cheese and these can be eaten in moderation but are known to drive up LDL cholesterol.
Good sources of monounsaturated fats are olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, avocados, and most nuts. Polyunsaturated fats are essential fats. That means they’re required for normal body functions but your body can’t make them, so you must get them from food. Polyunsaturated fats are used to build cell membranes and the covering of nerves.
They are needed for blood clotting, muscle movement, and inflammation. There are two main types of polyunsaturated fats: omega-3 fatty acids (fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, flaxseeds, walnuts, canola oil, and unhydrogenated soybean oil) and omega-6 fatty acids (vegetable oils such as safflower, soybean, sunflower, walnut, and corn oils.)
The U.S Department of Health and Human Services and Agriculture advise us to limit saturated fats to less than 10 percent or total caloric intake, cholesterol to less than 300mg per day and trans fatty acids to as low as possible. In total our fat intake should not exceed 35 percent of total daily calories.
- Healthy Fats
Small handful of any nuts
Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp any natural nut butter
1 serving ≈ 15g fat
Drinking enough water every day is good for overall health.
The Food and Nutrition Board released the sixth in a series of reports presenting dietary reference values for the intake of nutrients by Americans and Canadians. This new report establishes nutrient recommendations on water, salt and potassium to maintain health and reduce chronic disease risk. Highlights of the report include:
The vast majority of healthy people adequately meet their daily hydration needs by letting thirst be their guide. The report did not specify exact requirements for water, but set general recommendations for women at approximately 2.7 liters (91 ounces) of total water—from all beverages and foods—each day, and men an average of approximately 3.7 liters (125 ounces daily) of total water.
Eat fruits throughout the day or pedialyte to make sure the electrolytes retain the water and proper hydration is crucial to performance and help prevent cramping.
Physical conditioning and good nutrition are critical in reaching an elite level of athletic performance; however sleep plays an equally important role. According to a study done by the London Sports Institute at Middlesex University in London in 2016, “Sleep deprivation can contribute to poor performance through reduced motivation and efficiency of cognitive processes, increasing perceived effort, and limiting physiological recovery responses. Recommendations for sleep patterns should be specific to each individual; however, at least 7 hours of sleep is a general recommendation, implemented within a routine of consistent sleeping and waking time. Knowledge surrounding sleep and its importance with regard to recovery, monitoring, and assessment is becoming consistently more predominant within an elite performance setting.”
Remember: Intelligence tops being smart.
Melissa Kleinberg is an exercise professional and sports performance specialist with experience with personal training, group fitness and athletic coaching. You can reach her at email@example.com.