"Eat What You Are"
The right meal plan can benefit the active individual by:
- Improving your overall performance by allowing you to train for longer durations and at higher intensity levels.
- Aiding the recovery process by providing your body with the macronutrients needed to repair and rebuild muscle tissue as well as to replenish your body's energy stores.
- Reducing the likelihood of experiencing an electrolyte imbalance which, in turn, can lead to complications such as muscle cramps.
- Improving your body composition.
Dietary Guidelines for Improved Endurance Performance:
- Carbohydrates (CHO) are the main source of fuel because they are easily digested and can quickly meet your body's energy needs during the endurance activity. If your training intensity is low to moderate, you should consume 2.3-3.2 grams of CHO per one pound of body weight. If your training intensity is high, you should consume 3.2-4.5 grams of CHO per one pound of body weight.
- Although protein's role in providing energy during endurance activities is minimal, adequate amounts of it are needed to help your muscles recover from the exercise. It is recommended that you consume 0.55-0.8 grams of protein per one pound of body weight if you engage in light to moderate intensity endurance activities. If you endurance train at a high intensity, you will need 0.7-0.9 grams of protein per one pound of body weight.
- Fat serves as an energy source during prolonged bouts of low- to moderate-intensity endurance training. Consume healthy fats (mono- and polyunsaturated) from healthy sources while limiting or avoiding unhealthy fats (trans- and saturated fats).
- Ideally your diet should consist of whole foods in their natural state (or close to it). Include protein from lean sources (e.g., beans and legumes; soy; lean cuts of poultry, fish, and/or meat; and, nonfat or low-fat dairy products), healthy sources of fats (nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, and fish rich in Omega 3's), and carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, natural sweeteners (e.g., honey), and whole grains.
- Consuming high-quality protein is essential to help your muscles repair and rebuild from the micro-tears induced by weight training. To benefit from general strength training and toning activities it is recommended that you consume 0.54-0.77 grams of protein per one pound of body weight. If your goal is to "bulk up" or body build, you should consume 0.63-0.77 grams of protein per one pound of body weight.
- An adequate supply of carbohydrates is needed to prevent your body from using protein as an energy source. Consuming sufficient amounts of carbohydrates will also help to delay the onset of fatigue during your strength training session. It is recommended that you consume 2.3-3.6 grams of CHO per one pound of body weight to get the most out of your weight training regimen.
- Fat intake should account for about 20-30% of your total caloric intake.
- To reap the benefits of a weight training program, consume a diet consisting of lean protein sources (e.g., nonfat and/or low-fat diary products, soy, egg whites, beans, legumes, and lean cuts of poultry, fish, and/or meat), healthy sources of fat (nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, and fish rich in Omega 3's), and carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, natural sweeteners (e.g., honey), and whole grains.
Note: Before beginning an exercise program or increasing the intensity level of a current routine, a physician's approval should be obtained, especially for older adults and those at risk for or who currently have chronic health conditions.
The American Dietetic Association