Nutrition for athletes is a question we get asked a lot here at UAP. There are very many misconceptions about nutrition for regular people. There are even more misconceptions for athletes. Here are some easy concepts that we tell our athletes.
Our #1 rule we have our athletes follow is the Post Workout meal. 30 minutes after exercise, the body is in a very anabolic state and ready to build, repair muscle, and restore lost nutrients like glycogen and water. The body needs these nutrients present in this time period to take advantage of the anabolic state. We recommend 20 grams of protein and 60 grams of carbohydrates. This meal must take place within that 30 minute window or effects will be lost and the body will start to decrease its repair and building rate.
Our second rule is to eat a GOOD breakfast. This meal is the first meal of the day and should be eaten at least 1 hour after waking up for the day. The body has been without nutrients for around 6-8 hours. The body NEEDS nutrients as soon as possible! This meal should have at least 20 grams of protein from an animal source like eggs or dairy. Without an animal source of protein, you do not have all the Essential Amino Acids required for protein synthesis. The carbohydrate source for this meal should be complex for a long lasting energy source. Examples would be oatmeal, potatoes, or whole grain breads. If you’re an athlete, you MUST eat carbs. This is our primary source of energy. Without it, athletic performance is nonexistent. Adding a fruit of some sort is recommended. And please, eat the WHOLE EGG!
Our third rule is you must be eating at least 15-20 grams of a complete protein sources with every meal. This is the optimal amount of protein for protein synthesis.
One of the last rules we tell our athletes is you must be eating enough! We keep track of our athletes body weight here at the gym. If the athletes are losing weight, 9 times out of 10, it’s a bad thing. They are not eating enough calories to maintain lean muscle mass. This is the worst possible case scenario for an athlete. Just think about how many hours our typical athlete is active in their regular day. It’s a lot. Some athletes have two to even three different practices a day. That means three post workout meals and a LOT more calories to make up for those extra calories burned during those practices. If you want to be an athlete, you have to eat like one!
Here is a handout that we give all of our athletes. Something easy to follow.