Sports Nutrition Basics

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Knowing what to eat while training might be tough for some, but it is still incredibly important for athletes to nail down. Even if an athlete never has to worry about weight gain or loss, they can still benefit from optimizing their diets to better fuel their bodies.

The information below is not a complete nutritional guideline; it is, however, a great starting point for athletes who want to begin better supplementsfueling their athletic endeavors. Most have heard the idea that a person can’t outwork a bad diet. This is true. But what is a good diet? This is something that inspirational quotes tend to leave out. Let’s take a look at some figures.

For example, most diets ought to consist of the following:

  • 45-65% of daily calories = Carbs
  • 10-35% of daily calories = Protein
  • 20-35% of daily calories = Fats

So for a 2,000 calorie diet, an athlete could have something like:

  • 900 Calories = Carbs
  • 700 Calories = Protein
  • 400 Calories = Fat

However, this sort of diet would require detailed tracking to make sure everything was met as it needed to be. Some might prefer another method that uses portion measuring to track food instead of calorie tracking.

squatFor a 2,000 calorie diet, it might look like this:

  • Grains = 6 oz
    • 1 oz = 1 slice of bread, ½ cup cooked rice, pasta, or hot cereal
  • Vegetables = 2.5 cups
    • 1 cup = 1 cup raw or cooked veggies, cups of leafy greens, or 1 cup 100% vegetable juice
  • Fruits = 2 cups
    • 1 cup = 1 cup raw or cooked fruit, ½ cup dried fruit, or 1 cup 100% fruit juice
  • Dairy = 3 cups
    • 1 cup = 1 cup milk (8fl oz), I cup yogurt, 1 ½ cups natural cheese, or 2 oz of processed cheese
  • Meat and Beans = 5.5 oz
    • 1 oz = 1 oz of lean meat, poultry, or seafood, 1 egg, 1 tbsp peanut butter, ¼ cup cooked beans or peas, or ½ oz nuts or seed
  • Oils = 6 tsp

A sample day using this method may look like this:

Breakfast:

  • 1 egg (78 calories)
  • 1 apple (95 calories)
  • 2 cups spinach (14 calories)
  • 2 tsp olive oil (80 calories)
  • 1 slice bread (69 calories)
  • 1 cup milk (103 calories)

Lunch

  • 4 oz chicken (245 calories)
  • 1 cup salad (8 calories)
  • 2 tsp olive oil (80 calories)food
  • 1 cup milk (103 calories)

Dinner

  • 2 cups pasta (347 calories)
  • 1 banana (121 calories)
  • 1 cup milk (103 calories)
  • 2 tsp olive oil (80 calories)
  • 1 cup carrots (128 calories)

Total calories = 1654

Protein = 323 cal. = 20% of daily calories

Carbs = 782 cal. = 47% of daily calories

Fat = 549 cal. = 33% of daily calories

So even though the sample went by serving size (the calories included for readers’ benefit), the caloric count still came out within what is considered a healthy range of macronutrients. It’s easier to structure a diet based on portion size than it is by tracking calories and macronutrients together. That said, tracking food eaten is a good idea in general. It will allow an athlete to see where their problem areas are, and what they can do to improve their daily intake.

Bonus Information:

  • 1 scoop of protein powder = 1 oz (generally), around 130 calories
    • This is handy if an athlete wants to use fewer of their calories per day on protein, but still wants large amounts of protein (though for most athletes, anything over 35% is generally expelled from the body).
  • 1 protein bar = 2 oz, around 190 calories
    • Which means protein to calories ratio is actually more effective than protein powder.
  • Amino Acids
    • Nearly zero calories if bought as a supplement. Supplementing with amino acids can be very beneficial, especially if an athlete is doing resistance or endurance training.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I’m not getting the numbers you are quoting. I come up with a total of around 75 grams of protein. 75 grams of protein x 5 calories/gram = 375 calories. That’s nearly 1/2 of the 700 you listed early in the article and about 200 less than the 580 you quoted this one day having:

    1 egg – 7 grams protein
    3 cups of milk – around 28 grams
    pasta – about 10 grams of protein
    4 ounces of chicken – 28 grams protein
    1 slice of bread – 5 grams
    misc protein – 5 grams from veggies/fruit
    total – 78 grams of protein.
    You can get about 15 more grams of protein using FairLife as your milk source

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