In my coaching practice and working with athletes, the first answer I seek - You are committed and training like an athlete, are you fuelling like one too? Most of the time, the answer is a NO. If you are regularly active as an amateur athlete or professional, you will need to plan your workout nutrition to fuel performance and enhance recovery.
Many athletes, will be training intensely, one hard workout a week and few medium intensity 2-3 times. Hence, at this stage, you may want to consider adding some specific and targeted workout nutrition.
Workout nutrition has two key goals:
Most athletes do this the wrong way around - they focus on eating to perform, which often means short term strategies like grabbing a workout bar or a banana before a training session. But in the long term, if you don't recover, you don't perform.
Recovery may include
reducing muscle soreness
improving immune function
increasing protein synthesis
optimising body composition
providing adequate hydration
ensuring a steady supply of fuel and nutrients to the working body
replenishing muscle glycogen
To sum it up, good workout nutrition helps exercisers replenish and rebuild.
In my practice of working with athletes, most of the time, its enough to simply
follow a normal, regular eating schedule of high quality meals with the needed balance of lean protein, colourful plants, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates
make sure each meal has carbs, that's enough to support your activity level
eat each meal every 3-4 hrs or depending on the goals set.
Common concerns and working through them:
Not losing fat within realistic parameters
Putting to practice: decrease intake by about 250 calories a day by cutting out some carbs and/or fat
Not gaining muscles within realistic parameters
Putting to practice: increase intake by about 250 calories a day by adding some carbs and/or fats
losing too much lean mass when losing weight
Putting to practice: increase daily protein intake by about 25%
gaining too much fat when adding muscle
Putting to practice: increase daily protein intake by about 25 grams and decrease daily carbs and/or fat intake by 250 calories.
Finally, plan and practice with possible actions.
Sharing a case study and plan for individualised workout nutrition.
A 45 year old, 5'5", 63 kgs woman with a desk job and a very active exercise routine interest in losing approx. 7kgs in 4 months.
This will begin with taking in 2040 kcal/day.
A traditional approach would be approx. 30% protein, 35% carb, 35% fats
this sums to
- 165g of proteins
- 173g of carbs
- 77g of fats
This seems pretty straight and any nutritional calculator would estimate this.
This is the point where a coach jumps in, to understand the need and to help the sports nutrition for the athlete. Then develop a individualised plan and then practice these nutritional skills. Further more, break them into tasks and actions and finally keep them consistent. Continuous feedback loop to understand workout-nutrition-recovery. Another important aspect is to work with a coach to adjust your body composition goals.