July 31, 2004
Josh D. Hingst, CSCS
Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach
Florida State University
For the majority of collegiate sports, the summer months are the cornerstone of training and physical preparation for the upcoming competitive seasons. Training regimens include intense weight lifting workouts, conditioning sessions, and countless hours spent on developing sports specific skills. Many athletes can end up training two to three times a day. This intense training can leave their bodies depleted of nutrients and in need of nutritional support. The following nutritional principles are essential for ensuring the success of your summer training program.
Drink Fluids Throughout the Day
Dehydration can dramatically affect performance and limit your body's ability to continue training at high intensities. As little as 1-2 percent losses of body water can impact performance outcomes. Athletes need to consume roughly 1ml of water for every calorie they expend. The majority of athletes need to consume between 2500-4500 calories per day making their fluid needs between 2.5 and 4.5 liters per day. Athletes are also encouraged to drink fluids before, during, and after training. These recommendations include: 12-20 ounces of water 10-20 minutes before exercise, 8 ounces every 15 minutes during exercise, and 12-20 ounces after exercise for every pound lost during exercise. Some helpful hints for meeting fluid needs:
Eat Plenty of Calories for the Energy to Meet Training Demands
Summer training months are often more demanding than training in-season during competition. High levels of physical activity, as well as, higher amounts of lean body mass make calorie needs of athletes dramatically higher than that of non-athletes. An easy equation that can be used to determine these needs is using 42kcal/kg of body weight for males, and 35kcal/kg of body weight for males.
Body Weight (lbs.) 215 / 2.2 = 97.7kg x 42 = 4104 kcal/ day
Females Body Weight (lbs.) 155 / 2.2 = 70.45kg x 35 = 2465 kcal/day
While these equations are helpful they are only estimations making it important to monitor body weight and hunger cues to ensure calorie needs are being met. Some helpful hints to make sure calories needs are met:
Post Workout: Eat Within 1-2 Hours Following Every Workout (This meal should be high in carbohydrates, protein, and fluids)
The post workout meal is vital to provide the nourishments your body needs for repair and recovery. Most research indicates that athletes have a 1-2 hour period following training, in which their bodies are more sensitive and receptive to nutrients. Providing adequate fluid, carbohydrates, and protein is vital for replenishing muscle glycogen stores and kicking starting the protein synthesis (muscle building) process of the body. General recommendations for post workout nutrition are to consume carbohydrates and protein at a ratio of 3:1, at an amount of 90-120g of carbohydrates and 30-40g of protein.
Eat a Balanced and Varied Diet
Balance means eating different foods from each portion of the food guide pyramid. All foods have a place in the lives of active athletes.
Fruits and Vegetables contain many vitamins, minerals, fluids, and antioxidants. All of these compounds are needed by athletes to help their body's function as efficiently as possible. Exercise and training are natural stressors to our bodies and elicit the production of free radicals. Free Radicals can damage cells in our bodies and slow down recovery from exercise. Antioxidants are our body's natural defense mechanism against free radicals and eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables can combat the damage of free radicals and speed recovery.
Exercise, especially in hot climates, can lead to dramatic losses of body water, and electrolytes through sweat. Potassium and sodium are the two main electrolytes found in the body and help to maintain fluid balance. Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of potassium, where as sodium is found mostly in processed foods and table salt. Because these minerals are lost so readily and in such high quantities through sweat, replenishing electrolytes is a top priority for athletes.
Whole-Grain, Breads, Cereals, and Grains contain high-quantities of carbohydrates, and B-vitamins, which are also needed for energy metabolism. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy used by the body during high-intensity exercise and without them, our bodies are unable to reach peak levels of performance.
Milk, Dairy, Eggs, Fish, and Poultry provide our bodies with protein, vitamins and minerals, such as, calcium, iron, B-6, and B-12. Without adequate amounts of iron in the diet, our bodies are unable to deliver oxygen efficiently to working muscle. Calcium is a major mineral found in bone, yet, has many other vital functions, of which include muscle contraction. Vitamins B-6 and B-12 are used mostly during energy metabolism and deficiencies can lead to inefficient energy production and fatigue.
It's important for athletes to understand that all foods have a place in their diet. Eating a balanced diet with a variety of different foods can provide the energy, vitamins, and minerals needed to perform at the highest level possible. Avoiding fad diets that eliminate useful foods can only be detrimental to both health and performance.
To ensure the best gains possible from summer training and avoid plateaus in performance remember these four cornerstones of sports nutrition.
1. Drink Fluids throughout the day!
2. Eat plenty of Calories and energy to meet training demands
3. Post Workout: Eat within 1-2 hours following every workout (This meal should be high in carbohydrates, protein, and fluids)
4. Eat a Balanced and Varied Diet