The Athletic Performance Diet

News & Results

06/7/2003| 0 comments
by Matt Russ

The Athletic Performance Diet

Interestingly the athletic diet has changed very little over the years. The reason being is that there are not many pathways to fueling the body most efficiently.   A diet consisting of 60-65% carbohydrate, 20-25% fats, and 15-20% protein is the proper ratio of macro nutrients for most athletes and has been the mainstay for years.

Interestingly the athletic diet has changed very little over the years. The reason being is that there are not many pathways to fueling the body most efficiently.   A diet consisting of 60-65% carbohydrate, 20-25% fats, and 15-20% protein is the proper ratio of macro nutrients for most athletes and has been the mainstay for years.   A highly trained endurance athlete would not last very long on a high protein diet, because their glycogen stores would quickly become depleted and they would no longer have the energy or reserves to train effectively.   There is little controversy in athletic nutrition when compared to the general population.   I believe the reason for this is athletic nutrition is based on hard science and fact, rather than sensationalism and circumstantial evidence.   Coaches rely on clinical studies and proven methods rather than the latest hype.   Remember, most diets have to have a "hook" or gimmick to get you to purchase their plan or products.   That is not to say there is not hundreds of performance enhancing athletic supplements, many with dubious value.   But the overall big picture on how to fuel an athletes body really has not changed all that much.   This is what most athletes should focus on, rather than the latest supplement, performance enhancing product, or fad diet plan.

Complex carbohydrates such as starches and fiber should be the cornerstone of the athletic diet. Complex carbohydrates include breads, pasta, cereals, vegetables, rice and other grains, and potatoes.   I try to choose carbohydrates that are in there "natural" form such as whole grains because they have more fiber and nutrients, and give a slower steady release of energy.   Processed carbohydrate foods such as pasta and bagels are great for loading your body with energy before and after competition.   Simple sugars are good during a competition and for quick energy replacement afterwards (sports drinks). I try to avoid fruits before competition.   They can upset your stomach and the type of sugar, fructose, can be harder for your body to process during exercise.   Carbohydrates are broken down and stored as glycogen; the bodies fuel source, or converted to energy to compete and train. When glycogen stores run out you may "bonk" or "hit the wall." You feel lousy, lethargic, and slow. Your body begins breaking down your muscles to use as fuel. Several days of hard training can also deplete glycogen stores. This sluggishness and inability to train hard is often misdiagnosed as overtraining. A good post work out recovery plan is crucial to maintaining glycogen stores for repeated training and competition.    This means eating carbohydrates and a little bit of protein (4:1 ratio), immediately after training.  

Fat is also a fuel source used during training, especially at lower intensities. But fat can't be broken down very fast. As the intensity of exercise increases carbohydrate becomes the main fuel source, but the total amount of fat burned can remain the same, and the calories burned will be much greater. Don't fall into the

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