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Sports Nutrition Basics

Nutrition - The Facts for Life...

"The best high quality proteins you can consume to keep your body healthy are lean meats such as skinless chicken or turkey breast, egg whites, and supplemental sources such as whey and soy protein, respectively."

 

 
PROTEIN - THE CORE OF YOUR DIET
Reigning in at an average of 4 kcals/g, proteins are (and should remain) the staple of every nutrition plan. Not only do proteins provide the 9 essential amino acids unable to be synthesized by the body itself, but they also provide you with that “fullness” feeling with only a minimal serving. In fact, in a study of persons aiming to loose body fat mass, the individuals that lost the most weight (and continued to keep it off) were those whose meal plans contained a major increase in quality proteins with only a 25% kcal reduction. While the recommended daily amount (RDA) of protein is calculated at 0.8 g of protein/kg of body weight, many nutritionists, physicians and athletic trainers will advocate a 1.2-1.7 g/kg of high-quality protein intake for those with a more active lifestyle and especially for those who participate regularly in a weight training regiment. The best high quality proteins you can consume to keep your body healthy are lean meats such as skinless chicken or turkey breast, egg whites, and supplemental sources such as whey and soy protein, respectively. Other food sources containing higher amounts of protein per serving can be found in dairy products such as cottage cheese, skim-based cheeses, milk, and regular or (0%) Greek strained yogurt. Vegetables and legumes also contain substantial amounts of protein, with just one catch — for those of you who are vegetarians, it is extremely important to understand that there are very few complete sources of protein that are naturally occurring, one of which is the egg white. While green leafy veggies and vitamin rich beans and legumes provide a legitimate amount of protein, they must be paired with a complete protein in order to be fully absorbed and utilized by the body. Finally, in order for protein to be completely absorbed by the body, you must be thoroughly hydrated. (1,3)
 
 
FIBER - MORE THAN ESSENTIAL
Americans have proven to have the highest rate of gastrointestinal disease. Women need AT LEAST 25-30 g of fiber per day, as compared with the average American consumption measuring at about 14 g. (3)
 
 
FAT - HELPFUL OR HARMFUL?
The word “fat” has earned a bad reputation in addition to its negative connotations with body image and weight gain. Averaging at about 9 kcals/g, fats, also known as “lipids,” are a major source of energy for active muscle tissue. However, when excess fat lipids circulate in the bloodstream and are not taken up by working muscles, it is stored in the body’s subcutaneous adipose tissue, or what we might think of as our “fat” that prevents us from fitting into our “skinny clothes.” Exercise training however, counteracts the storage of excess lipids. In fact, the more active you are on a daily basis, the greater the storage of triglycerides (ENERGY) for muscle absorption and utilization. (3)
 
 
CHOLESTEROL - THE GOOD AND THE BAD
When you have your blood cholesterol analyzed at the doctors office, you are given a list of numbers that may be hard to translate into a simple “Am I healthy or not?” There are two kinds of cholesterol: high-density lipoproteins (HDL), and low-density lipoproteins (LDL). High-density HDL’s, or the “power houses” transfer the bad cholesterol plaque out of the bloodstream and back to the liver to prevent blockage to veins and arteries. (3)
 
 
EATING FREQUENCY - TIMING IS EVERYTHING
One of the most common misconceptions about dieting is that snacking between meals is a big “no no.” However, not only is snacking in between meals a healthy way to prevent over-eating at mealtimes, but by consistently fueling your body every 2-3 hours with a minimum 100kcal healthy source of fuel, your body’s blood sugar levels remain at a relative level therefore helping you to feel energized throughout the day.
 

 


 

 

Text Sources:
(1)     Powers, S.K., & Howley, E.T. Exercise Physiology: theory and application to fitness and performance, 6th Ed., McGraw-Hill, New York, New York, 2007.
(2)     Thorne, Gerald. Embelton, Phil. Oxygen’s : “Total Women’s Fitness: Releasing the Inner You”. Muscle Magazine International, Mississauga, ON, Canada © 2002 Robert Kennedy.
(3)     Wardlaw, Gordon M. Smith, Anne M. Contemporary Nutrition 6th Ed. McGraw Hill Companies Inc. New York, NY. © 2007 McGraw Hill.
 
 
 
Written by Lindsey Avery, Exercise Science major, Skidmore College