The goal of most athletes is to become bigger, faster, and stronger than the leading competition. They will spend countless hours performing speed and agility training, strength training, stretching, etc., however the one area that is most often neglected by an individual is nutrition. Nutritional protocol is one of the most crucial aspects in an athlete’s repertoire. If they don’t consume the proper balance of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and fluids the training benefits can fall by the way side. In this excerpt by Felicia D. Stoler, DCN, MS, RD, FACSM, she gives some basic guidelines as to what the Olympic and ACSM organizations recommend for athletes in general.
“When one works in a lab setting doing research and has access to equipment and testing, sports nutrition is really a precise science. However, for most athletes, even those bound for the Olympics, until they are part of the official Olympic team they hopefully use the same principles we have espoused for many years.
The factors that are important for Olympic athletes include fueling and hydration (rest, too). The nutrients recommendations, per the joint position of the ACSM and Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition remain the same:
- Protein – 15-20%
- 1.2 – 1.4 g/kg/bw/day for endurance athletes
- 1.6 – 1.7 g/kg/bw/day for strength athletes
- RDA 0.8 – 1.0 g/kg/bw/day
- Carbohydrate 50-60%
- 6-10 g/kg/bw/day
- Fat <30% total kcal/day
- Less than 10% from saturated fat
Fluid needs are an important aspect of sports performance – for maintaining body temperature, blood pressure, circulation of oxygen, glucose, etc. Replenishment of fluids/water is 16-24 fl oz for each pound of body weight lost during exercise. Electrolyte replenishment is based upon the extent of sweat loss. Some people know they are super salty sweaters because they are sometimes covered in salt after long durations of exercise (or see salt residue on clothing).
For endurance events – maintaining carbohydrate levels is important: 1.5g of carbs/kg body weight during first 30 min and again every 2 hours for 4 to 6 hours. Regardless of the particular sport, protein replenishment is important for recovery, but it should be combined with carbohydrates. The carbohydrate to protein replenishment ratio is 3:1 or 4:1.
When athletes compete internationally, sleep and usual foods may be a challenge. The mantra of all sports nutritionists to athletes: don’t do anything new the day of a race. Practice is a great opportunity to tweak fueling, hydration and replenishing strategies, even though the surge of adrenaline is never the same. We usually suggest that athletes get as much of their nutrient needs from real food versus supplements. There are strict rules with regard to supplementation and potential performance enhancement products – intentionally or unintentionally being ingested. It is a great disgrace to be disqualified or have to return a medal due to testing positive for a banned substance.”
These are some great ideas for athletes of any sport, however each individual is different and will respond with varying results. It is best to make a few test runs on your nutritional protocol to make sure you have enough fuel to finish your event. If you are an athlete and you are focusing on every other aspect of training except what you put in your body, you will not perform at peak levels and will fall behind the athlete’s that do. For more information on the right nutrition for you, contact us at 610 334-4120. We would be happy to help you become an elite athlete.