Every person on this planet is not the same, therefore
nutritional intake isn't just black and white across the board.
Macro and micro nutrient consumption varies depending on your
goals, your medical history and current state of health, your
current activity level, your type of activity, the demographics of
where you live, and more. All of these factors play a role in
what your nutritional intake should be to reach optimal levels of
health and attain your goals. However, there is a guideline
in which you can choose what foods are good for you and what foods
are not. This is what we call paleo
nutrition, or The Paleo Diet.
This section is going to focus on food intake from the
perspective of an athlete. Jenny's goal is to be the best
athlete she can be and a huge part of this success comes from how
she fuels her body. Peformance nutition focuses on recovery
between training sessions, energy during workouts and overall
health to keep the athlete being able to perform at a high level.
Here is a bit more insight to how Jenny chooses to fuel her
body for success.
- Food is a huge part of our society. Holidays, social
gatherings, work meetings, etc all focus around food. How
many of us actually think about what we are putting in our body,
the timing of consumption and what its purpose is? I'm not
saying that you need to weigh and measure every bit of food that
enters your stomach…in fact I never have done that for myself and
rarely recommend that…but I am saying that the food we consume
should have a purpose. For everyone, but especially as
performance athletes, we must realize that food is our
fuel. The energy we need for workouts, but more
importantly for recovery, starts with what goes in our mouth.
- You will see that I strongly promote The Paleo Diet as a way of
eating. As a performance athlete that doesn't change, but a
bit of modification is necessary in order to meet the demands
placed on the body. The information below is to help guide you
on what to eat, when to eat it and roughly how much of it you
should be eating to optimize your performance and recovery.
- From the get go you have to be taking in good food. There
is NO supplementation for a strong foundation, without it you are
just supplementing junk. It's like trying to fill a bucket
full of water that has a hole in it. You can continue to dump
as much water in as you possible can, but it will never remain full
because there is a leak.
- What is clean eating? Eat meats and veggies, nuts and
seeds, some fruit, little starches (selective few), and no
sugar. Staying in these parameters the foods you do choose
will be nutrient dense.
Here's a brief overview of macronutrients for athletes.
-Required for maintaining and building lean body mass.
-1g/1lb of lean body mass
-Sources: Meat and Eggs
-Primary source of fuel - glucose.
-Great opportunity to take in vitamins, minerals, and
-Vegetables - low, medium, high starch, and green leafy
-1-2g/1lb of lean body mass
-Asparagus (4g), Sweet Potato (20-25g), Apple (21g), 1 cup
Spinach (1g), 1 cup of grains (40g)
-Can be a fuel source, but big need for it is hormone
-Cooking oils (liquids), fats (solids) - meat, fish, fruit, and
-~1.5g/1lb (maintenance) or ~2g/1lb (gaining weight)
- Nuts/Seeds (15g/oz), Avocado (30g), Cooking Oils
- Fish Oil: Amount dependent on person's state, but in general
2-4g of EPA/DHA per day for a healthy, clean eating
individual. As an athlete you may have to tinker with this
and see what you feel best with. On days where workouts are
harder and inflammation could be higher, go for the upper end of
the scale and vice versa on less intense days. Here is a good
link on Omega 3 Facts from Pure
- Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA's): Necessary for making
protein and stimulating muscle production. Allows for faster
- Greens Supplement: Increases micronutrient intake.
Alkalizes the body and reduce inflammation.
- Probiotics: Natural Sources - kraut and kimchi. Brands for
Pills and Powders - Jarrow and New Chapter
- Digestive Enzymes: Now Foods Superenzyme, Wobenzyme,
Braod-spectrum Digestive Enzyme.
- Protein Powders: Real food is best in my opinion, but make
sure you chew it up adequately so it will digest better.
Think "drink your food, chew your water". If you can't
stomach real food after a workout then exploring protein powders is
an option. Whey is from dairy so I would suggest no, but use
your personal discretion on this one. Egg white powder is
really the only other one I have tried and agree with.
- As an athlete the bulk of your time is spent training, so
the bulk of your calories should be post workout.
Two Major Workout Categories
1. Central Nervous
System (CNS) Intenstive:
- Taxes brain and neuro-muscular efficiency
- Olympic lifting sessions, 1RM/3RM Testing, 8x2-3reps
- Stresses muscles
- Aerobic/lactic, metablic conditioning, high volume lifting
Fueling for CNS Training:
- Balanced meal 2-4 hours before workout
- BCAA's: half before your workout and half during and after
- Balanced meal 30-60 min post workout
Fueling for Cellular Intensive
- Pre-workout many athletes feel better in a slightly
fasted state because blood/oxygen can go to extremities rather than
to stomach for digestion. Note: this is a subjective matter
and you must decide what your optimal "fasted" state is.
- Priority is restoring liver and muscle glycogen.
- Secondary is stimulating muscle production.
- We always hear "drink water", "stay hydrated", "pee
clear". Well, it's true. Dehydration can be one of the
worst, yet most common reasons for fatigue and decline in
performance. Also, the nutrients we consume like water…that's
how our GI tract absorbs them. Make your GI tract a river,
not a mudpit!
- How much water do I need to consume? It varies from
person to person, but on average drinking½ ounce/1pound of body
weighteach day is recommended. On top of that you have to
take your sweat factor into account. Weigh yourself before
you workout (naked if possible) and then weigh yourself immediately
after your workout (naked again). Keep track of the amount of
water you consume during your workout. Subtract the amount of water
you drank from the difference in body weight from the start of the
workout to the end. That is how many ounces you must consume
to make up for the water lost through sweating.
- Eating a Paleo diet there are studies that show athletes can
become low on electrolytes. That doesn't mean go chug a
Gatorade! That stuff is full of sugar! What it does
mean is don't be afraid to add a bit of sea salt to your food and
definitely get a hydration tablet (full of electrolytes) to add to
your water during/after workouts.
SLEEP, SLEEP, SLEEP and SLEEP SOME MORE:
- When we are training we are getting weaker, we are beating our
bodies up. Recovery from the workouts is where we get
stronger. This is when adaptation occurs!
Good Sleep Habits:
- 8-9 hours of sleep minimum
- No computer 2 hrs before bed (inhibits melatonin production
and circadian cycles)
- No TV 1 hr before bed
- No blinking lights (computers, phones, clocks, fire alarms,
- No outside light (get blackout curtains)
- Cool room temperature
- Method for waking (Verilux)
- Food for thought…If you don't have your sleep on track, then
your body won't be working properly to break down food and use it
for productive fuel. If you don't have your nutrition in
check then your body won't have the proper gas to run it's engine
efficiently and at optimal power. Moral of the story, get
your sleep dialed in and properly fuel your body for what you're
demanding of it and the results will come.