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sports nutrition

The Importance Of Post Workout Nutrition!

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You just finished up an awesome workout and you’re trying to decide what to eat. This article is for you! You will learn what the best things are to eat post workout!

You don’t need to be a resource management specialist to know that time is the most valuable finite resource that you have. And as you well know, there’s a very limited amount of it to go around. So if you’re smart, you’ll figure out ways to get the greatest return on the investment of your time.

While this may be well recognized and applied in many aspects of modern life, it confuses me as to why people seem to ignore this when it comes to their exercise training. From what I see on a daily basis, it’s clear to me that most people in the gym are wasting their time investment. They’re spending precious hours engaged in strength or endurance training programs that yield little or no results?

Need proof? When was the last time someone in your gym made any noticeable physical progress? In fact, when was the last time that you made any significant physical progress? Exercise training has the potential to yield huge returns on any given time investment. Isn’t it a shame that most people don’t ever see this magnitude of return?

Despite this disappointing reality, I’m here to tell you that hope is not lost. In fact, there’s a very easy way to capitalize on your investment. You see, in most cases the exercise is not the problem. The problem is that people fail to invest in the other important commodity that, in combination with exercise, yields the biggest returns.

They’re buying the cart without the horse, the lemonade stand without the lemonade. They’re spending their time focused on only the exercise program while ignoring the importance of a sound nutritional program.

Now I could write a dozen articles focused on straightening out the nutritional problems of the world. But those articles are for another day. In this article today, I intend to focus on what is, in my opinion, the most important aspect of exercise nutrition – eating during the post-workout period. The knowledge of how to eat during this time will maximize your efforts in the gym and yield the biggest returns on your time investment.

REMODELING AND THE POST-WORKOUT PERIOD

Exercise, both strength and endurance training, is responsible for countless health and aesthetic benefits. However the exercise itself is a significant physiological stressor. Perceived symptoms of this “stress” are often mild and include muscle soreness, the need for extra sleep, and an increased appetite.

These symptoms let us know that the exercise has depleted the muscle’s fuel resources, caused some minor damage, and that the muscle is in need of replenishment and repair. While the words depletion and damage may sound like negative things, they’re not if they only stick around for a short period of time. You see, these changes allow the muscle to adapt by getting better at the exercise demands placed on it.

Therefore if you’re doing endurance exercise, the muscle will become depleted and damaged in the short run, but in the long run it will super compensate, building itself up to be a better aerobic machine. And if strength training is your thing, you’ll tear down you’re weaker muscle fibers in favor of building up bigger, stronger ones.

In all cases, exercise essentially tears down old, less adapted muscle in order to rebuild more functional muscle. This phenomenon is called remodeling.

While the remodeling process is much more complex than I can describe here, it’s important for me to emphasize that this remodeling only takes place if the muscle is provided the right raw materials. If I plan on remodeling my home I can hire a guy to tear down a couple of walls, a guy to clean up the mess, and a guy to come in and rebuild better walls than the ones that came down.

But if I don’t give that guy any bricks, how’s he going to get anything done? If I don’t give him the bricks, all I’ll have in the end is a much smaller, unfinished house.

The same holds true with exercise remodeling. In particular, during the exercise bout and immediately following it, exercise breaks down our muscle carbohydrate stores and our muscle protein structures. Then, the immune system comes in to clean up the mess.

And finally, signals are generated to tell the body to rebuild. However, as I hope you can now see, without the proper protein and carbohydrate raw materials, this building can’t take place. You’ll be left with muscles that never reach their potential.

So with this analogy, I hope it’s obvious that this post-exercise period is not a time to take lightly. Remember, you spent a significant amount of time in the gym breaking down the muscle for a good reason. You want it to be better adapted to future demands.

So to realize full return on your time investment, you need to give the body the raw materials it needs, namely protein and carbohydrates.

FEEDING HUNGRY MUSCLES

As I mentioned earlier, all trainees (male or female), regardless of their chosen mode of exercise, must take their post-exercise nutrition seriously in order to provide the muscle with the raw materials it needs. As all types of exercise use carbohydrates for energy, muscle carbohydrate depletion is inevitable. Therefore a post-workout meal high in carbohydrates is required to refill muscle carbohydrate/energy stores.

However any ol’ amount of carbohydrates will not do. You need to consume enough carbohydrates to promote a substantial insulin release. Insulin is the hormone responsible for shuttling carbohydrates and amino acids into the muscle. In doing this, carbohydrate resynthesis is accelerated and protein balance becomes positive, leading to rapid repair of the muscle tissue.

Therefore, by consuming a large amount of carbohydrates, you will promote a large insulin release, increase glycogen storage, and increase protein repair. Research has shown that a carbohydrate intake of 0.8 to 1.2 grams per 1 kilogram of body weight maximizes glycogen synthesis and accelerates protein repair. However, unless you’ve had a very long, intense workout, 1.2g/kg may be a bit excessive as excess carbohydrate can be converted to bodyfat.

Therefore I recommend 0.8g of carbohydrate per 1 kilogram of body weight for speeding up muscle carbohydrate replenishment while preventing excess fat gain (van Loon et al 2000a).

In addition, since muscle protein is degraded during exercise, the addition of a relatively large amount of protein to your post exercise meal is necessary to help rebuild the structural aspects of the muscle. After exercise, the body decreases its rate of protein synthesis and increases its rate of protein breakdown. However, the provision of protein and amino acid solutions has been shown to reverse this trend, increasing protein synthesis and decreasing protein breakdown.

Researchers have used anywhere from 0.2g – 0.4g of protein per 1 kilogram of body weight to demonstrate the effectiveness of adding protein to a post-workout carbohydrate drink (van Loon et al 2000b, Roy et al 1998). As an increased consumption of the essential amino acids may lead to a more positive protein balance, 0.4g/kg may be better than 0.2g/kg.

While your post-workout feeding should be rich protein and carbohydrate, this meal should be fat free. The consumption of essential fats is one of the most overlooked areas of daily nutritional intake but during the post workout period, eating fat can actually decrease the effectiveness of your post-workout beverage. Since fat slows down transit through the stomach, eating fat during the post workout period may slow the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates and proteins.

As your post workout feeding should be designed to promote the most rapid delivery of carbohydrates and protein to your depleted muscles, fats should be avoided during this time.

Finally, another important factor to consider is the timing of this meal. It is absolutely crucial that you consume your post-workout meal immediately after exercise. As indicated above, after exercise, the muscles are depleted and require an abundance of protein and carbohydrate. In addition, during this time, the muscles are biochemically “primed” for nutrient uptake.

This phenomenon is commonly known as the “window of opportunity”. Over the course of the recovery period, this window gradually closes and by failing to eat immediately after exercise, you diminish your chances of promoting full recovery. To illustrate how quickly this window closes, research has shown that consuming a post-exercise meal immediately after working out is superior to consuming one only 1 hour later.

In addition, consuming one 1 hour later is superior to consuming one 3 hours later (Tipton et al 2001, Levenhagen et al 2001). If you wait too long, glycogen replenishment and protein repair will be compromised.

In conclusion, when you decided to start exercising you decided to give up a specific amount of time per week in the interest of getting better, physically. However, if you haven’t spent the necessary time thinking about post-exercise nutrition, you’re missing much of the benefit that comes with exercising.

I assure you that once you start paying attention to this variable in the recovery equation, your time in the gym will be much better invested.

WHOLE FOOD VS. NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTATION

Anchored firmly atop their calorie-counting soapbox, nutritionists have traditionally asserted that whole food always trumps supplemental nutrition. For them I have only one sentiment:

Always…it is a meaningless word. -Oscar Wilde

While I wholeheartedly believe that complete, unbleached, untreated, and unprocessed whole food should form the basis of any sound nutritional regimen, there are some instances in which supplements can actually be superior to whole food. In the case of post-exercise nutrition, I believe that liquid supplemental nutrition is far superior to whole food for the following reasons.

LIQUID MEALS ARE PALATABLE AND DIGESTIBLE

Typically, after intense exercise, most people complain that eating a big meal is difficult. This is understandable as the exercise stress creates a situation where the hunger centers are all but shut down. However, as you now know, it’s absolutely critical that you eat if you want to remodel the muscle, enlarge the muscle, or recover from the exercise.

Fortunately liquid supplemental formulas are palatable, easy to consume, and can be quite nutrient dense, providing all the nutrition you need at this time. In addition, since these formulas are structurally simple (I’ll save the biochemistry for another article), the gastrointestinal tract has no difficulty processing them. Your stomach will thank you for this.

LIQUID MEALS HAVE A FAST ABSORPTION PROFILE, WHOLE FOOD IS JUST TOO SLOW

The latest research has demonstrated that liquid supplemental formulas containing fast digesting protein (whey hydrolysates and isolates) and carbohydrates (dextrose and maltodextrin) are absorbed more quickly than whole food meals.

To put this into perspective, a liquid post-exercise formula may be fully absorbed within 30 to 60 minutes, providing much needed muscle nourishment by this time. However, a slower digesting solid food meal may take 2 to 3 hours to fully reach the muscle.

LIQUID MEALS TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE “WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY”, WHOLE FOODS MAY MISS IT

The faster the protein and carbohydrates get to the muscle, the better your chances for muscle building and recovery. Current research has demonstrated that subjects receiving nutrients within one hour after exercise recover more quickly than subjects receiving nutrients three hours after exercise. Liquid nutrition is making more sense, isn’t it?

LIQUID MEALS ARE BETTER FOR NUTRIENT TARGETING

During the post exercise period, specific nutrients maximize your recovery. These include an abundance of water, high glycemic index carbohydrates, and certain amino acids (in specific ratios). It’s also best to avoid fat during this time. So the only way to ensure that these nutrients are present in the right amounts is to formulate a specific liquid blend. Whole foods may miss the mark.

POST-EXERCISE CHOICES

So your workout is over and it’s time to reach for your post workout meal. What do you reach for? Here are a few examples of good post-workout choices in order of effectiveness.

REFERENCES
  1. Levenhagen et al. (2001). Postexercise nutrient intake timing in humans is critical to recovery of leg glucose and protein homeostasisAm.J.Physiol Endocrinol. Metab. 280(6): E982-993.
  2. Tipton et al. (2001). Timing of amino acid-carbohydrate ingestion alters anabolic response of muscle to resistance exercise. Am.J. Physiol Endocrinol. Metab. 281(2): E197-206.
  3. Roy et al. (1998). Influence of differing macronutrient intakes on muscle glycogen resynthesis after resistance exerciseJAP. 84(3): 890-896.
  4. Van Loon et al. (2000a). Maximizing postexercise muscle glycogen synthesis: carbohydrate supplementation and the application of amino acid or protein hydrolysate mixturesAm J Clin Nutrition. 72(1): 106-111.
  5. Van Loon et al. (2000b). Ingestion of protein hydrolysate and amino acid-carbohydrate mixtures increases postexercise plasma insulin responses in menJ Nutr. 130(10): 2508-2513.

K2 – Athletic Performance Eating

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Performance Eating Guidelines

Fast Foods – 5 Eating Rules for ELITE Sports Performance

  1. START YOUR DAY AT THE FUEL PUMP

When you wake up in the morning, your body hasn’t received any nutrients for roughly eight hours. Trying to perform without eating breakfast is like a NASCAR driver trying to win the Daytona 500 on an empty tank—it simply isn’t possible.

An ideal breakfast for an athlete delivers a balance of carbs (your muscles’ preferred fuel source), protein and healthy fats. If you don’t have an early workout, you can go big at breakfast. Opting for something like a veggie omelet accompanied with peanut butter on whole wheat toast, a piece of fruit, yogurt, and oatmeal with berries and nuts, can kick-start your day. But even if you do have a morning training session, you should still eat something. A banana with peanut butter or an apple and string cheese are light snacks that can help your body wake up and give you a boost heading into the gym.

2. TOP OFF THE TANK BEFORE YOUR WORKOUT or GAME

What you eat in the two-hour window before your training can have a huge impact on your performance. Not eating at all is one of the biggest mistakes you can make, because training on a completely empty stomach often results in the wheels coming off in the middle of a workout. But if you chow down on the wrong things, your body will be stuck in park when you need to be in drive.

Fuel up with a snack or small meal one to two hours prior to your workout so your body is primed to perform. Your focus should be on taking in simple, easily digested carbs—which your body uses for fuel. (For examples of simple and complex carbs, see the sidebar “Fueling Field Guide: Simple Vs. Complex Carbohydrates” on page 15.

3. REFILL THE TANK AFTER YOU TRAIN

Your workout isn’t finished when you walk out of the gym or off the track. Training, especially strength training, breaks down the muscles in your body so they can grow stronger and more powerful later. Following an intense workout, the goal is to switch your body into muscle-building mode (called the anabolic state) by consuming nutrients that will help repair muscle fibers, making them thicker and stronger. The ideal way to do this is to eat within a half-hour of the end of your workout. (You definitely don’t want to wait longer than an hour.)

A good post-workout snack provides you with 4 grams of carbohydrates for every gram of protein it delivers. Many post-workout shakes deliver this ratio, making them a convenient way to get the nutrients you need to stimulate muscle growth. Aim to consume 20 grams of protein and 80 grams of carbohydrates following activity.

4. CRUISE WITH CARBS

Carbs are your main source of fuel during exercise. Having too few carbs in your system will leave you feeling like you’re moving under water—slow and plodding instead of fast and explosive. Broadly speaking, carbs come in two forms: simple and complex. Complex carbs, which break down slowly and provide a long-lasting energy supply, typically come from whole plant foods. These carbs are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber, and confer a huge number of long-term health benefits, including a lowered risk of obesity and disease. Simple carbs tend to be high in sugar but low in nutrients and fiber. Your body digests them faster, so they deliver energy very quickly.

FUELING FIELD GUIDE: SIMPLE VS. COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES Complex carbs take your body longer to break down than simple carbs, which makes them a good choice for long-lasting, sustainable energy with no crashes throughout the day. Simple carbs are a better choice shortly before a workout, when they can give your body a blast of easy energy to help power you through your training session, or immediately after training when they can help quickly refuel your muscles. Eating simple carbs at other times throughout the day isn’t a great idea, however, because they induce fat storage. Opt for simple carbs if you’re within 30 to 60 minutes of a workout and complex carbs throughout the rest of the day.

Complex Carbs include:  Whole grains like brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa and oats Foods like pasta, breads and cereals in whole grain form. Look for the words “whole wheat flour” to be high on the ingredient list to ensure you’re getting a food high in whole grains. Starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, potatoes, corn and pumpkin Beans and lentils Green vegetables

Simple Carbs Include: Fruits like bananas, oranges, apples and grapes White bread Fruit jellies or jams Honey Dried fruit Pretzels Crackers

5.  POWER UP WITH PROTEIN

Unless you eat enough protein, you won’t build muscle. Without muscle, you’re like a car with no horsepower—you simply won’t have the raw power needed to go fast.

Aim to eat roughly one gram of protein for every pound of body weight per day. For example, if you are a 175-pound athlete, take in about 175 grams of protein throughout the day. How do you know how much protein is in the foods you’re eating? A good guideline is that a palm-sized portion of lean meat contains approximately 30 grams of protein.

When picking your protein, remember that grilled beats fried. Fried foods are laden with more calories and fat, which will slow you down over the long haul. Try to keep your protein clean and simple—for example, opt for a grilled chicken breast over one that’s battered and deep fried.

 

Reinvent your approach to eating and transform your body

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It’s time to  end the debate of all debates.

You want to lose weight, gain muscle, and  change your body—but without worrying about whether you’re eating the right  foods. After all, countless diets pronounce that they provide the ultimate  solution to your goals. Only problem is, they all differ in the types of foods  they suggest, the timing of meals, and how much you can eat.

But all  diets are dependent on one common factor: macronutrient composition. That is,  the protein, carbohydrate, and fat content in the foods you eat. Macronutrients  are the single most important factor that determines a diet’s success or  failure. Every diet has its own macronutrient manipulation. On one end of the  continuum are the low-carb diets, such as Atkins and Protein Power (and some  variations of the Paleo Diet). More towards the middle are diets like The Zone  and South Beach. On the other end of the continuum are high-carb/low-fat diets  such as Pritikin and Ornish.

So who’s right? Recent evidence in the  International Journal of Obesity suggests that the diet you can stick to best is  the right one – regardless of the exact breakdown of macronutrients. But this  still leaves questions about how to determine your needs to simplify eating.  Consider this your final answer, and the guide you need to finally determine the  most effective plan for you.

Hitting your goal for the day is the most important aspect of  eating protein, whether it’s for fat loss, building muscle, or just maintaining  your weight.

The Eating Guide

Are you a calorie counter who wants an even  more focused plan? Once you figure out how many calories you want to eat per  day, use this plan from Alan Aragon (alanargon.com) to balance your  macronutrients and drop fat fast.

Key
1 gram of protein = 4 calories
1 gram of carbohydrates = 4 calories
1 gram of fat = 9 calories

Protein
Eat one gram of  protein per pound of your goal body weight.
So if you  want to weigh 200 pounds, you’d eat 200 grams of protein per day for a total of  800 calories.

Fat
Remember,  the amount of fat you want will depend on many specific factors. As a rough goal  on a fat loss plan, eat .5 grams of fat for your goal body weight.  Using the 200 pound model, you would consume 100 grams  of fat per day, or 900 total calories.
If you find  that this is too much and you gain weight (reminder: fat does NOT make you fat),  aim for .3 to .4 grams of fat per pound of goal body weight. Listen to your body  and you will see changes.

Carbohydrates
Carbs are dependent on how much protein and fat you  consume in your diet. That is, you’ll eat carbs to fill in the remainder of  calories needed in your diet.
Using the formula above,  let’s say you wanted to eat 2500 calories per day.
Add  your protein (800 calories ) and your fat (900 calories) and then subtract it  from the total number of calories you want to eat (2500-1700 = 800 calories).
Divide the remainder number of calories (800) by 4,  and you’ll have a target number of carbohydrates you should eat (200 grams).

Therefore, on this sample diet you’d eat:
200 grams of protein (800 calories or 30% of your  diet)
100 grams of fat (900 calories or 40% of your  diet)
200 grams of carbs (800 calories or 30% of your  diet)

PROTEIN

WHAT IT IS AND WHY YOU NEED IT   Protein is the major structural and functional component of  all cells in your body. Proteins literally play a necessary role in many of the  biological processes that allow you to live and function. Not to mention, about  25 percent of your muscle mass is made up of protein—and the rest is made up of  water and glycogen (your body’s stored form of carbohydrates). So it’s no wonder  why so many diets place a heavy emphasis on protein. But the reason you need to  eat so much is simple: Unlike other nutrients, your body can not assemble  protein by combining other nutrients, so enough must be consumed in your daily  meals in order to achieve your desired health and appearance.

BIGGEST MYTH Despite what you might  have heard, your body can process a lot more protein than you think in each meal. Like a big steak dinner? Don’t worry, you can handle it. The most common  claim is that your body can only handle 20 to 30 grams per meal and that the  rest will go to waste. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

The idea that your body can only handle limited amounts  of protein was one of the initial reasons why people began eating meals every 2  to 3 hours. It was a tactic designed to prevent wasting food, while also raising  your metabolism. However, science has proved that your body can take as much  time as it needs to digest and absorb protein and utilizes all of the nutrients  appropriately. With the exception of a massive protein binge—where you consume  more protein in one meal than your body can handle in an entire day—you can feed  yourself larger doses as part of a healthy approach to your diet.

ADDING PROTEIN TO YOUR DIET  While  most people think that protein is most important before and after your workout,  this isn’t true. Hitting your goal for the day is the most important aspect of  eating protein, whether it’s for fat loss, building muscle, or just maintaining  your weight. Setting your protein goals is a fairly simple process. Research  shows that a range of .5 to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight is ideal  if you are active. If you want to be even more specific, a good general  guideline is to eat about 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass  (LBM). However, most people don’t know or can’t reliably measure their LBM. As  an alternative, consume 1 gram of protein per pound of your goal body weight.

That means if you’re a fluffy 200 pounds and want to be a  lean, toned 180 pounds, simply eat 180 grams of protein per day. Learning what  food intake amounts to 180 grams of protein – or any macronutrient – is a matter  of tracking your intake.

Food journaling software like LIVESTRONG.COM’s MyPlate  can help you record how much protein you’re really eating.

THE BOTTOM LINE The pitfalls of  under-doing protein far outweigh those of overdoing it. Meeting protein  requirements is particularly important when you’re trying to lose weight because  protein is the most muscle-sparing and metabolic macronutrient, and it also  keeps you full.  If you struggle to achieve your protein target through whole  foods like meat, fish, poultry, eggs, legumes, and milk products, you can easily  supplement your diet with protein powder (whey, casein, or egg). There’s no need  to nitpick over the precise distribution and timing of protein throughout the  day, just concentrate on the total for the day, and consume protein at doses and  times that suit your schedule and personal preference.

FAT

WHAT IT IS AND WHY YOU NEED IT    Fat is a major fuel source for your body and has multiple  functions, such as helping your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins, regulating  inflammation, and hormone production. Like protein, fat is considered to be  nutritionally essential because certain fatty acids (linoleic acid &  alpha-linolenic acid) cannot be sufficiently produced by your body for survival,  and thus you must fulfill your needs by eating fatty foods. That’s right. Read  that sentence again: You must eat fat. Although essential fatty acid deficiency  is uncommon among adults in developed countries, the consumption omega-3 fatty  acids is often too low for the purpose of optimizing health and preventing  disease.

BIGGEST MYTH Let’s settle the  score once and for all: Fat does not make you fat.

Once  you get beyond that myth, there are many other misconceptions that could steer  your eating habits in the wrong direction. Most notably, many people still  believe that saturated fat is a dangerous substance that causes heart disease  and should be avoided. This myth has survived for at least the last 3 decades,  and has refused to die despite numerous studies that have shown that saturated  fat is actually good for your body. In a recent invitation-only scientific  consensus meeting, the Department of Nutrition at the University of Copenhagen  determined that saturated fat does not need to be avoided. What’s more, a recent  review failed to find a link between saturated fat and coronary heart disease.  More importantly, it’s not just that saturated fat isn’t bad; the scientists  found that eating saturated fat benefits your health.

That doesn’t mean that all fats are safe. The Dutch  analysis found that excessive trans-fats (from hydrogenated vegetable oils in  shortening, commercial baked goods, and refined snack foods) still pose a  significant threat to your health.

ADD FAT TO YOUR DIET   The best way to prevent heart disease is to simplify your  diet. Eat more whole and minimally refined foods, including an increased  proportion of vegetables, fruits, and nuts—and know how to balance your omega-3  fatty acids. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends 0.5-1.8 g/day of  combined EPA and DHA, which are omega-3 fatty acids with potent heart-protective  properties. This intake can be achieved by either consuming two to six one-gram  capsules of fish oil, or by having roughly three to six ounces of fatty fish per  day. Vegetarians should realized that achieving the same EPA  and DHA levels  with flaxseed oil is a much less efficient process, requiring roughly double the  dose.

THE BOTTOM LINE Unfortunately,  there isn’t a gold standard for the amount of fat you need in your diet.  Instead, it should be determined on an individual basis. The most recent report  by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine recommends that you  eat at least 20 to 35 percent of your total calories from fat. But realize that  eating slightly more than this won’t cause added fat storage as long as your  total calories match your goal for weight gain, loss or maintenance. If you  still want a target, divide your weight in half and eat that many grams of fat.  So if you’re 180 pounds, you would aim to consume 90 grams of fat per day.

CARBOHYDRATES

WHAT IT IS AND WHY YOU NEED IT   Carbohydrates have many functions, but their main role is to  provide energy to the cells in your body. Carbohydrates are unique because they  are not considered essential. That’s because your body can synthesize its needs  from non-carbohydrate sources though processes called gluconeogenesis and  ketogenesis. As a result, the other foods you eat (proteins and fats) can be  converted into energy, meaning that your general survival does not depending on  eating carbohydrates. As mentioned before, this can’t be said about amino acids  (protein) or essential fatty acids (fat)—both of which you need to obtain from  foods.

Still, while carbohydrates technically are not  essential, you do need them when living an active lifestyle. Not to mention,  fruits and vegetables are two of the most important sources of carbohydrates,  and both provide nutrient-rich calories that protect against disease.

BIGGEST MYTH Carbs do not make you fat.  (Picking up on a theme?)

Ever since the low-carb craze  began in the early 1990s, carbohydrates have been demonized as the cause of the  growing obesity rates. And while a low-carb diet does have many health benefits  and can lead to lasting weight loss, there is no “metabolic advantage” to going  low carb. In fact, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical  Nutrition compared a low-carb diet with one that was higher in carbohydrates.  The result: There was no difference in weight loss or changes in the ratio of  muscle-to-fat. What’s more, when researchers compared a low-carb diet with a  low-fat diet (and higher in carbs), they discovered that neither was better at  boosting metabolism.
You can analyze studies and research  all day, but the bottom line is simple: You can eat carbs and still lose weight.  The diet you choose will be largely dependent on many personal preferences and  eating styles, and whether it’s low carb or higher in carbs, both strategies can  be equally effective at creating change.

ADD CARBS TO  YOUR DIET Generally speaking, if you’re active you need  anywhere between one to three grams of carbohydrate per pound of lean body mass.  The carbohydrate requirement tends to range more widely than the other  macronutrients because it’s largely dictated by how many calories you’re trying  to eat per day, and your total amount of activity. In other words, determining  the right amount of carbs is really the fourth step in your diet plan. First,  figure out how many calories you need, then set goals for proteins and fats.  Once you establish those guidelines, then your remaining calories for your  weight goal should be filled in with carbs.

THE BOTTOM  LINE Carbohydrates, just like fat and protein allotments,  should be comprised mostly of whole and minimally processed foods. For most  people, carbohydrates are a form of dessert. And if you’re eating healthy, about  10 to 20 percent of your total calories can basically come from any foods you  want. Your choices among carb-dominant foods (fruit, milk, starchy vegetables,  non-starchy vegetables, grains, legumes) should be based on your personal  preference and tolerance, while maintaining as much variety as reasonably  possible. As a rule of thumb, eating two to three fruits and two to three  vegetables per day will usually fill up the majority of your carbohydrate  allotment, while providing beneficial nutrients that will help your overall  health.  Easy enough, right?

 

Pre-Tournament Nutrition

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Q: What foods should you eat to start your day when you are going to play in an all day tournament?

 A: First, I’ll assume that you’re planning to wake up early enough to have something somewhat substantial and are not just rolling out of bed and running out the door.

 When you’re preparing for several games during the day. If you read nothing else, pay attention closely to this …

 Stick with what you know and don’t try new foods on the day of competition. Or even the day before competition. I once worked with a client who came to me after she had a bad day on the field hockey field. She was hungry, a coach told her carbohydrates were important and that fiber was important, so with a large bran muffin as an option, she chose that. Unfortunately for her, her body wasn’t used to that much fiber…and she had a few GI issues during that day of tournaments that kept her cramped and certainly not performing at her peak (or at all in this case).

 All that being said, a few tips.

 redEat something somewhat substantial 2-3 hours before your first game.

 redIdeally this meal will be primarily carbohydrates with some protein. Here’s an easy way to imagine this.

 redHold out your hand. Have about 2 fistfuls of carbohydrate and 1 of protein.

 Examples?

  1. 1 Greek yogurt with a banana (2 parts carbs, 1 part protein).
  2. 1 slice of whole grain toast, 1 orange, 1 egg.
  3. 1/2 cup oatmeal, 1 apple + low fat milk.

 The closer you get to the actual workout, time wise, the less you should eat so you don’t have heavy food sitting in your stomach.