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.

fat burning "zone" exercise plan.   Fat is not a good source of energy to consume during exercise, but is crucial to processing certain vitamins and performing body functions.   The best fats are mono / poly unsaturated fats.   A good way to remember these types of fats is that they are liquid at room temperature (oils), and generally come from plant sources.   Examples are avocados, canola, olive, safflower, and other oils, and nuts.   Saturated fats generally come from animal sources and include cheese, lard, butter, meat fats, and cream.   Your body only needs a small amount of saturated fats; about 10% of your diet.   These are considered your "bad" fats that can raise cholesterol.

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Protein is a poor source of energy and requires a lot of work to break down. Protein only supplies about 5% of energy during exercise, and up to 10% when glycogen stores are depleted. Protein however is crucial to repair the muscle damage of heavy training.   There is evidence that endurance athletes need even more protein than body builders.   Don't fall into the protein=muscle trap.   Muscle gain comes from adaptation to stress (ex. weights), and proper nutrition.   Consuming too much protein can be hard on your kidneys and is unnecessary.  Your body can only process so much protein at a time; the rest is flushed from your body.

If weight loss is you goal focus on energy in and energy out- calories.   Do not fall victim to fad diets.   Weight loss is really just a numbers game; you have to burn more than you consume to create a deficit.   Remember; Lance weighs his pasta.   A round number for weight loss is 10 x weight + 2 x weight for men, and 10x weight + weight for women .  This is roughly your resting metabolism, the number of calories your body needs daily to sustain bodily functions.   This is less than the number of calories your body burns every day.   Couple this deficit with the deficit created by exercise, and you will loose weight.   It is preferable, however, to loose weight by the deficit created from training only.   This way you do not have to worry about being depleted for training.   Eating smaller meals throughout the day can boost your metabolism and keep you from over eating.   Try not to go hungry; you tend to eat too much at one sitting when you are hungry.


The "big picture" is to try to make sure each meal has carbohydrates, fats, and protein in the approximate ratios.   Make sure your diet is balanced and consistent.   You can do this by quantifying and calculating your food choices, or by simply eyeballing your plate.   Eat a variety of complex carbohydrates, low fat proteins, and healthy oils. Stay away from high fat foods, especially saturated fats.   It is important to read labels so that you know what you are putting in your body.   Consider yourself as

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