One of the main disservices athletes can do to their bodies is simply eating until they are full while having no idea how many calories or how much protein, fat and carbohydrates they are eating on a daily basis.
This leads to the problem of training hard to build muscle, but not eating anywhere near enough protein to build the muscle or even just repair muscles after hard workouts, which leads to a lot of wasted workouts.
All of this leads to fatigue, muscle loss and decreased performance to name a few.
After you read this, you will have an idea how to manage your foods and give your body the right amount and types of fuel it needs to perform in your sport.
Step #1 – Calculate your Total Calorie Intake
Basal Metabolic Rate
Your BMR is the amount of energy you expend daily at rest.
Women: BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)
Men: BMR = 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years)
Active Metabolic Rate
Your AMR represents how many calories are required to stay at your current weight, depending on your activity level.
Calculate your AMR by using your BMR and estimating your current level of activity. If you are:
- Sedentary (little or no exercise) – your AMR = BMR x 1.2
- Lightly active (light exercise/work 1-3 days per week) – your AMR = BMR x 1.375
- Moderately active (moderate exercise/work 3-5 days per week) – your AMR = BMR x 1.55
- Very active (hard exercise/work 6-7 days a week) – your AMR = BMR x 1.725
- Ultra active (very hard exercise/work 6-7 days a week) – your AMR = BMR x 1.9
Step #2 – Calculate your Protein Intake
Here is a very comprehensive study on protein intake and exercise.
Protein is the easiest to calculate of the macronutrients because research has given us very fine parameters of what is necessary for muscle growth and exercise adaptations. The International Society of Sports Nutrition recommends that the majority of exercising individuals should consume at minimum approximately 1.4 to 2.0 g of protein per kg of bodyweight per day to optimize exercise training induced adaptations.
That variance is based on an athletes age, muscle mass, goals, history of exercise and more. Those who are trying to maintain muscle could be on the lower end while those trying to add muscle mass can be on the higher end and even above it. Based on that, pick a number that sounds right and try it out, if it doesn’t feel right, then correct and continue. That’s how sports nutrition works. Even when you think you have it down, training can change and so will your ratios.
CHOOSE BETWEEN 1.4-2.0 grams per kg of body weight for daily intake.
(150lb person at 1.6g/kg = 109 grams of protein per day).
Note: If you are very overweight and your excess weight is from excess body fat (not muscle), these #’s will overestimate your protein needs. The extra fat on your body does not require extra protein intake. To avoid overestimating your protein needs, use your desired, healthy weight instead of your actual weight.
Step #3 – Calculate your Protein, Carb and Fat %’s
Once you know your (a) calories and (b) protein per day, you can calculate what % your protein will take up of your diet. This will give you some idea of how to adjust the rest of your calories; fat and carbs.
To find your protein calories per day; multiply your protein (grams) by 4 (there are 4 calories in every gram of protein) – this gives you your total # of protein calories per day.
Now take your total protein calories and divide it by your total calories (AMR) – this gives you your % of protein per day of your total calories.
So let’s say your total calories are 2,000, and your protein intake per day should be 100 grams (400 calories); 400 divided by 2,000 = 0.20, or 20%. That leaves 80% for fat and carbs.
There are 4 calories per gram in carbs and protein, and 9 calories per gram in fat. That means there are over twice as many calories in equal amounts of fat than carbs or protein.
So now that you have your total calories and protein %, it’s time to figure out your fat and carb %’s. This is where it gets tricky and varies a lot, depending on your goals, lifestyle and body type.
Just an FYI, the average American adult and here (35.7% obesity incidence) intakes the following:
- Men = 2,504 calories/day
- Women = 1,771 calories/day
- Carbohydrates = 50.5%
- Fat = 33.5%
- Protein = 16%
Here is an example of an active person with an AMR of 2,000 calories and who intakes 33% fat, 20% protein and 47% carbs.
- Fat = 660 calories or 73.3 grams per day
- Protein = 400 calories or 100 grams per day
- Carbohydrates = 940 calories or 235 grams per day
LET THE EXPERIMENTATION BEGIN!!!
If you need professional guidance to help fine tune your ratios for maximum health and performance, then that is where I come in.
I can help you monitor your symptoms (cold hands or feet, or changes in body temperature and pulse after eating usually mean that your ratios and or foods are off) and change your ratios or foods so that your body gets the perfect combination and types of foods to utilize. I am not a doctor or nutritionist, but I can teach you how to find the best ratios for your training and goals.
If you go up against the same talent, but they are more dialed in with their nutrition, guess who wins?
Contact me for more info firstname.lastname@example.org