The Nutrition of an Athlete

Posted: Nov 09 2013

Nutrition can be a minefield, it's no wonder people get confused. My mum used to tell me it's everything in moderation and i'd be a rich man if I had a penny for every time I'd heard 'you are what you eat'. Anyway, if ever there was a man who could shed a little light on the subject of nutrition, it would be Andy 'The Body' Wiseman' - Over to you Andy...

Nutrition is a minefield for anyone starting out in exercise. It confuses me at times. There is a bottom line though - that your nutrition should reflect your goals. If you need to lose a few lbs, then you need to be in a calorie deficit to drop body fat.
If you want to put some size on, then you need to eat. And eat more!

In this blog, I'll do my best to give some simple tips for so you can tailor your diet according to your needs.

Athletes Breakfast

Decide what your goal is

Firstly though you need to define what it is you are trying to achieve through your nutrition. Are you eating to drop body fat, or are you eating for athletic performance? Put in context, you wouldn't find a marathon runner on a low carb diet, or any athlete for that fact.

A common, and quite frankly absurd myth, is that cutting carbs is this quickest way to lose fat. It drives me mad when I hear of celebs endorsing quick fix diets. Yes you will lose weight, and quickly, but how often do you hear of people saying the lost it and put it all back on? The body has been deprived of carbohydrates, and when they are back in the system and the diet stops, the metabolism has slowed down and the body will store the carbs put back in as body fat in case it senses 'famin' again.

It's a vicious circle, and and a trap that many fall into. Carbs are not the enemy. Far from it. They are vital for energy levels, brain function and transportation in the body. Have a low carb day, and you will soon know why you become moody and lethargic! It's not pleasant. 

This brings me onto the next point.

Performance.

I hear so often of people who don't take carbs on board before training. Where the hell do they get the energy levels from?? It's possible to train on proteins and fat, although it will still won't give you the required energy needed for an intense session, and will in fact affect performance, which then leads to fatigue, and at worst case scenario - injury.

The truth is we need all three macronutrients in the body to function both athletically, and non athletically. Cutting one of them for a quick fix diet isn't advisable at all. Tailor your diet around your goals.

In a nutshell a good diet for fat loss, would be a diet higher in protein and good fats, and slightly lower in carbohydrate. To add weight, then the carbs would be ramped up, and the protein and  fats maintained, or slightly reduced, depending on your body type, and how quick your metabolism is.

We are all different when it comes to diet, some of us respond slightly better than others, and the results you are looking for should come at a progressive rate, not a quick fix. Consistency is the key here, if you consistently do something over a period of time, then you will get some form of result.

Training Diet

Below is a look at an average training day diet for me, the list isn't exhaustive, I'd go mad if I had to eat this day in day out, but should give you an idea of the proteins, fats and carb intake.

Breakfast:

  • Oats,
  • 20g Whey
  • Blueberries
  • 1 tsp 100% Dark Organic Chocolate

Snack:

Poached eggs, turkey, whole grain bagel

Lunch:

  • Chicken,
  • Sweet Potato,
  • avocado,
  • Greek yoghurt

Snack:

  • Nuts, almonds, cashews, macadamia

Pre workout:

  • Oats
  • Rice cakes
  • Whey
  • Black coffee with coconut oil.

Post workout

  • Whey
  • Banana, rice cakes, honey

Snack

  • Sardines or mackerel,
  • brown rice,
  • spinach,
  • Red Grapefruit

Dinner

  • Lean mince beef
  • Brown rice
  • Spinach
  • Peppers
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Tomatoes.

I also stay hydrated with between 5-6L water per day as water plays and important part in metabolism,

A good combination of protein and carbs is required pre and post workout, for energy and recovery. Training on a zero carb diet with have more harm than good.

The main point of this blog, is that to lose weight you need to eat to gain weight you need to eat. It's as simple as that. Starving yourself will only lead to a lack of energy, and a huge rebound, which if you really do worry about your weight it will only make you feel unhappy again. Consistency is the key!

Some final tips with regard to nutrition:

  • Stay hydrated,
  • Be realistic, don't punish yourself, you are human not a robot! Enjoy your diet!
  • Be flexible with your diet, you stand a better chance of success if you relax slightly, and realise that eating clean 100% of the time is not the be all and end all, life happens, go with it.
  • Use an app like MyFitnessPal to track your intake, you'll be surprised at what some foods contain. Diet according to your goals.
  • Don't disregard fruit! You would need too eat a hell of a lot for any toxicity. Fruit contains vital nutrients, go organic if you can!
  • Don't do crash diets, you'll end up disappointed. Remember a diet isn't generic, it's individual to you. Know how your body responds and have patience. It will happen! The human body is extremely adaptable, give it time!
  • Make a commitment, and stick to it. Set your goal, and work hard to achieve it!

I hope this blog gives you some degree of clarity of how nutrition works, and what is required to get closer to your goals.

Have a good week, my next blog will be about the importance of flexibility to avoid injury.


Andy Wiseman
Reflex Nutrition Ambassador

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