CLICK HERE for part one of EXACT’s two part series on optimal athletic performance.
The strict demands of today’s college coaches require modern prep athletes looking to reach the next level via soccer showcases, hockey showcases and baseball showcases must be at the top of their game. In part two of a two part series EXACT will take a closer look at a diet that promotes; high energy, muscle building and high endurance.
How many calories should an athlete consume?
Use this online measurement tool to see how many calories you burn per day. The recommended amount of fruits and vegetables combined to be consumed daily is up from the old “5 a day” standard to a modernized range of 7-9 daily servings. Fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of some of the vital minerals mentioned later in the piece.
What kind of calories should an athlete consume?
Carbohydrates are the biggest source of energy for an athlete. During the early stages of moderate exercise athletes receive 40 to 50 percent of their energy from carbohydrates stored in the body. It is important to consume complex carbohydrates that are in foods such as; spaghetti, potatoes, lasagna, cereals and other grain products.
Complex carbohydrates come from foods such as spaghetti, potatoes, lasagna, cereals and other grain products. Simple carbohydrates are found in fruits, milk, honey and sugar. During digestion, the body breaks down carbohydrates to glucose and stores it in the muscles as glycogen.
For athletes who play sports predicated on endurance such as soccer players, a high-carb diet, consisting of around 70 percent carbohydrates is recommended, beginning two to three days before the event. For example, at a demanding soccer camp, the energy provided by those extra carbs is key to maintaining a high level of play for a sustained amount of time. For those athletes playing sports that are played for a shorter amount of time, 50 percent carbohydrate consumption is a healthier standard.
Fat is an important source of energy but should only take up about 15-20% of an athlete’s diet. There are healthy fats and unhealthy fats and it is extremely important to know the difference.
Omega-3s are found in fatty fish (salmon, trout, catfish, mackerel), as well as flaxseed and walnuts. And its fish that contains the most effective, “long-chain” type of omega-3s. The American Heart Association recommends eating 2 servings of fatty fish each week.
Monounsaturated fats are a heart-healthy fats that are typically a good source of the antioxidant vitamin E. They can be found foods such as; olives, avocados, almonds, cashews, sesame seeds; pumpkin seeds; and olive, canola, and peanut oils.
Avoid the saturated and trans fats found in foods such as; cake, potato chips, fried chicken, fatty steak, and candy. These fats have shown to contribute to heart disease, high cholesterol and are not conducive to providing energy for the body.
Protein accounts for much of whats left of the bodies nutritional needs. The American Deictic Association reports that a protein intake of 10 to 12 percent of total calories is sufficient. For heavy-weight training athletes that amount can take a slight increase but one of the bigger mistakes athletes make is overloading on protein. Protein is an essential ingredient to muscle building, repair and a source of energy, but amounts taken in excess are stored in the body as fat. Good sources of protein include; fish, chicken, turkey, dairy products such as milk, whole grains such as whole wheat pasta and brown rice beans, legumes and nuts.
Vitamins and minerals
Minerals play an important role in athletic performance. Over the counter vitamins are not required because the essential vitamins the body needs can be found naturally in a balanced diet. Heavy exercise affects the body’s supply of sodium, potassium, iron and calcium. The foods in the categories above contain these minerals essential to athletic performance.
The fuel an athlete puts in his/her body greatly contributes to the way they feel and ultimately perform on the field. It takes commitment to earn a college scholarship and EXACT Sports knows that using the right fuel required for performance is a central tool required to achieve optimal performance; it’s up to the athlete to apply it.