For how large of a spectacle sports are in the public eye, a surprisingly little amount of information is known about proper sports performance nutrition for athletes. Ask 10 different people about proper athlete nutrition, and get 10 different answers.
Truth be told, there is NO one-size-fits-all solution; nutrition must be tailor-made to the individual. In sports, the type of event should determine the nutritional needs of the athlete. And, as with general nutrition, the individual’s physical attributes, lifestyle and dietary limitations or restrictions cross over into the athletic nutrition realm.
Since there is no prototypical answer for generic athlete nutrition, it’s a good idea to stop by your local Max Muscle Nutrition store and speak with a certified fitness nutrition coach. Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a hopeful competitor, it is imperative that an expert understand your needs in order to help you get the right fuel at the right times. Meanwhile, keep reading for some helpful guidelines for sports nutrition requirements for athletes.
The frequency, intensity, time, type (or F.I.T.T.) model for outlining the parameters of exercise science parallels guidelines for sports nutrition requirements for athletes.
FREQUENCY: Using the above as a guide, it is crucial to first analyze how often the athlete in question is going to be practicing and/or competing. This would represent the ‘F’ in the F.I.T.T. acronym, of course. Establishing a set routine for the athlete to follow is part of the blueprint for success in fitness, nutrition and health.
Applying this to the needs of the modern athlete, the first concept to take a peek at is that not all days are going to be the same, and as a de-facto result, not all daily menus are going to be the same. The athlete at hand should NOT be eating the same way, or as much food on off days as he or she would on training days. The added physical activity is going to increase the demands on the body and act as the primary catalyst for the additional required food intake.
INTENSITY: Intensity of physical activity will determine the nutrition of the athlete on those training days. Some contests or training requires short bursts of fast twitch muscle fibers over a prolonged period of time, like the training of a mixed martial artist. Others involve slower muscle fiber movements with less explosiveness over a prolonged period of time, as best illustrated in cross country distance racing. Explosive movements over a shortened period of time, as in certain CrossFit workouts or in Olympic lifting, reflect the training principles of another group of athletes as well.
The takeaway here is that what you put in your body and how much of it will be determined by how hard you work in your given training protocol. If your training requires a high-intensity, frenetic pace, like a rower, you better make sure you don’t miss a meal the entire day. If you’re a golfer, then you’re best avoiding the beer kiosk on the 18th hole.
TIME: The first ‘T’ in the F.I.T.T. model stands for time. This (big surprise here) represents how long the athlete will be training or competing. This, as with Intensity, is imperative in determining the size, macronutrient needs, and timing of meals before, during, and after the training session. The longer the training session is, the longer the body will be going without nutrients.
Training for a prolonged period of time (longer than the human body desires to be active biologically) can potentially breed a catabolic state. Catabolism is a reference to chemical reactions that parlay into the deconstruction and breakdown of larger organic molecules into a simpler state. This is where the athlete’s body essentially goes into a muscle-wasting state, and, as you may have already guessed, is not what anyone wants.
To avoid catabolism and optimize performance, the athlete has to tweak his or her meals just right. Don’t forget to keep a wayward eye on that clock. Your performance depends on it!
TYPE: The second ‘T’ and final letter in the model corresponds to the type of exercise at hand. This brings us back to our initial point that each sport and its type of athletic demands represents a set of nutritional guidelines, each unique to itself. Some athletics will require an athlete to have an entirely different body type, which must be maintained, in large part, with proper sport-specific nutrition. A bodybuilder may look fantastic, but can he dunk a basketball and juke defenders? That’s about as likely as LeBron James winning Mr. Olympia.
“You are what you eat. Eat the best. Be the best.”
So regardless of whether an athlete is big, small, lean, or tall, athletes have one thing in common: the need for proper nutrition. The number of high-level athletes without their nutrition properly dialed in is at near-epidemic proportions. Hopefully the next generation will take notice. With the access to high-end facilities, proper training, knowledgeable coaches and widening competition, the one key aspect to success that the new breed must capitalize on is perhaps the most simple: nutrition. You are what you eat. Eat the best. Be the best. Simple as that.
For more information on a nutrition plan that works best for your sports performance needs, visit your local Max Muscle Nutrition store and talk to a certified fitness nutrition coach today!
CrossFit: Though most CrossFit workouts represent a relatively short period of time when compared to say, baseball, there aren’t any resting periods in the dugout or standing in the outfield. CrossFit is one of the most athletically-demanding, physically-taxing training protocols. Athletes have to be sure to book-end their workouts with proper meals. A protein-centered (of course) meal pre-workout with a larger amount of carbohydrates and a post-workout drink, like Max ARM, are a must. When pure protein powder won’t cover all the bases, and whole food takes too long to digest, Max ARM is a saving grace.
Read More: Max ARM – Your Best Bet for Recovery
Road Cycling: Road cycling, or distance cycling, makes the athlete set a solid pace that must be maintained over a prolonged time frame. With no option to sit on the bench and down some nutrients during a long training session, proper performance nutrition has to be portable. In addition to pre- and post-workout nutrition, cyclists shouldn’t be caught dead without an electrolyte drink, like EnduroMax, on a ride. Think I’m kidding? Prioritize it right behind a helmet.
Read More: The Fuel You Need for Endurance Racing
Baseball: Like it or not, baseball games can take hours. This is far beyond the time demands that would put the athlete’s body in danger of going catabolic. Luckily, between fielding innings, baseball players have access to a dugout and thus, proper nutrition! No baseball player should be caught dead without a cooler of amino acids, just-in-case protein bars, and perhaps an intra-workout drink.
By Matt Cooper, CFNC