Are you an athlete that feels like you are putting the time and effort into your sport and the weight room but not reaching the goals that you’ve set for yourself? Or, are you a parent who sees their child doing these things but they seem to have hit a plateau in their development? The missing piece to get over that plateau and to reach your goals could be nutrition. In this blog, the importance, basic knowledge and tips regarding nutrition will be discussed.
As an athlete or a parent of an athlete it is important to know how much of an impact nutrition can have on overall development. Whether that is knowing what to eat pre or post workout, how much protein to consume each day, how much water to drink each day or even just general tips on what to eat if you are trying to gain or lose weight. All of these things will play a vital role in how athletes can not only perform each day but overall continue trending upward in regards to physical development.
So, if you're an athlete reading this you may be asking yourself where do I start? Let’s start with the basics. Essentially everything that you're eating is made up of three macronutrients (macros); Proteins, Carbohydrates, and Fats. Proteins are used for the development and growth of muscle. They are also used to build and repair the cells in our body. Carbs or carbohydrates are our primary source of energy. Fats also are another important energy source. So, having a diet that is rich in all three of these macros is important. How much of each macro that you eat everyday will depend on the goal (gain, lose or maintain weight). Typically, the breakdown of these macros are as follows:
- Carbohydrates: 45–65% of total calories
- Protein: 10–30% of total calories
- Fat: 25–35% of total calories
As mentioned earlier, these are general percentages and should be adjusted based on the nutrition goals of the athlete. Below is a macro breakdown and cheat sheet, to help you visualize what foods fit into each macro category
Additionally, it is important to recognize what your goal is, so that the proper steps regarding nutrition can be taken. For example, if your goal is to gain weight and put on muscle, you need to be eating more calories than you are burning (caloric surplus) and eating at least 1 gram per pound of bodyweight. So, if an athlete weighted 150 lb, he/she would need to be eating AT LEAST 150 grams of protein per day. With that being said, the general rule for losing or gaining weight is to either eat in a caloric deficit or caloric surplus.
Overall, a pound is equal to 3,500 calories. So if we can achieve that 500 calorie surplus or deficit everyday and stay consistent, it would take one week to gain or lose one pound. A caloric deficit (helps you lose weight) is eating fewer calories than you burn each day (Burned: 3000 calories, Eaten: 2500 calories = 500 calorie deficit). Meanwhile, a caloric surplus (helps you gain weight) is eating more calories than burn each day (Burned: 3000 calories, Eaten: 3500 calories = 500 calorie surplus).
While losing or gaining one pound per week may not seem like a lot, it is a pace that is suitable for the long term. Let’s put this into perspective. Let’s say you are a high school athlete and start your nutrition journey this upcoming Monday, December 14th. If you are a spring sport athlete your spring season does not start until April 1st. This gives you 3.5 months (14 weeks) to reach your goal. So if you were to stay consistent, stay patient and put forth the effort (TNL Core Values) with the 1 lb (gain or loss) per week that would come out to 14 total pounds! 14 lb can make a HUGE difference in how you look and function. This will easily put you on the path to throw harder, lift more weight, sprinter faster, jump higher etc.
Finally, some tips to help you reach your goals:
1) TRACK YOUR FOOD (Ex: My Fitness Pal App)
- If you do not track your food, how can you know what you’re eating?
- As with training, we track all of our data on regularly, so that we understand exactly how we're doing on a weekly basis. This helps us along the way to update or make changes to what we're doing or recognize that we're making the right progress
2) LEARN HOW TO COOK...OR AT LEAST A LITTLE BIT
- Athletes - I encourage you to learn how to cook so that you are not always relying on parents.
- Parents - help your athlete learn how to cook, it could be a great bonding experience! It will also set them up with some INVALUABLE TOOLS for the future & give them some accountability in their own development
3) FIND WHAT MOTIVATES YOU
- Being consistent with your nutrition can be difficult. Writing down your motivations can help you stay consistent and keep you on track.
- This is your WHY. Why do you train, why do you need to become a better athlete, why do you need to get bigger, faster, & stronger?
- If you can recognize your WHY, then you will have a huge advantage of over your competition.
Overall, nutrition is extremely important for athletic development and can really take your game to the next level! Remember to always be patient, consistent and put forth effort. With these three values your goals are just waiting to be achieved.
- Coach Shawn