Many guidelines to food base nutritional needs off of over calorie consumption (consume 2,000 kcal per day), serving size ( a serving of fat is the size of your thumb), or by percentages ( carbohydrates should be 45% of total intake).
These guidelines serve as helpful for many people, but for athletes the guidelines are more specific.
Athletes need unique nutrition to meet their needs. For example, an athlete consuming 15% of calories from protein might consume way more protein than needed based on extremely high-calorie needs. On the flip side, sticking to 2,000 calories a day would leave most athletes in a severe energy deficit.
- Carbohydrate intake is suggested at varying g/kg based on an athlete’s level and volume of training which can range from 4–12g/kg each day.
- Protein intake ranges from 1.0-1.5 g/lb per day
- Fat is allowed in amounts that fill the remaining needs once carbohydrate and protein needs have been met which may be above a non-athlete’s guideline of 30%.
- Beyond daily intake needs, pre- and post-workout needs are also given in this format to ensure the athlete is fueling adequately. Anyone heavily invested in their training should look at their intake in this way.
Here are a few examples of macro intake for athletes:
The guideline is that athletes take in 3 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight prior to training.
Athlete 1: An athlete weighing 54kg (118 pounds)
The calculation: 54 x 3 = 162 grams of carbohydrate
Sample meal: 2 cups oatmeal, 1 banana, 1 cup of orange juice and 2 tablespoons maple syrup.
Athlete 2: An athlete weighing 83kg (183 pounds)
The calculation: 83 x 3 = 249 grams of carbohydrate
Sample meal: 3 cups oatmeal, 1 banana, 1 cup of orange juice, 4 tablespoons maple syrup, 2 slices of toast and 2 tablespoons jam.
If the heavier athlete ate based on the lighter athlete’s needs, they would more than likely experience a sub-optimal performance during training.
If the lighter person ate the heavier person’s portions, they would likely feel sluggish and over time, gain weight.
Many people are under the impression that consuming a portion of protein, 20–25 grams, per meal is all the body can utilize.
Here is what the breakdown of protein consumption by body weight would look like:
Athlete 1: 50kg (110-pound) runner
The calculation: 50kg x 1.8 grams protein = 90 grams protein/day = 30 grams per meal
Sample meal: 1 cup broccolini, 2 tbsp peanut sauce, 4 ounces flank steak, 1 cup baked sweet potato
Athlete 2: 91kg (200-pound) lifter
The calculation: 91kg x 2.2 grams protein = 200 grams protein/day = 67 grams per meal
Sample meal: 6-inch turkey avocado sub, 1 cup cottage cheese, 1 cup lentil soup, 2 hard boiled eggs
For the average person, fat intake should be roughly 30% of daily calories. On a standard 2,000-calorie diet, this would be 66 grams of fat a day.
For athletes, it is vital to their performance that protein and carbohydrate intake be met before fat fills in the gap.
Fat is there to round out the intake after protein and carb needs are met based on individual overall calorie needs.
Consuming nutrients based on body weight ensures you are fueling your muscles to perform. Proper nutrition helps your body recover from training and maintain general good health.
If this way of thinking about nutrition is confusing, get in touch with me. Join my team of Fit Babes and let me see you on your way to your healthiest and fittest self!
Click the link below!