Tag Archives: sports nutrition

Training Table 101: Protein and Complex Carbs

9 Jul

Fall sports season is just around the corner, which means training camp time for football, soccer, and volleyball players, among others.

For most of these athletes, August will be the most active and physically demanding few weeks that they have.  One of the challenges facing these athletes is that many of them have not maintained healthy eating habits needed to complement their energy expenditure.

During training camp, many players actually struggle to keep weight on, rather than off.  Understanding the importance and impact of appropriate calorie consumption — as well as specific intake of fats, carbs, and proteins — is a must.

Basically, calorie consumption should take (at least) two factors into consideration: Body weight (desired) and physical activity (duration, frequency, intensity level, ambient temperature).

A typical meal or snack should be pretty simple:

  • Protein, such as steak, chicken, or fish
  • Vegetable
  • Healthy starch, including sweet potato, brown rice, whole grain pasta, etc.

The focus should be on protein and complex carbohydrates.  Additionally, adequate fluid intake — before, during, and after physical activity — is critical to prevent dehydration.

Athletes burn a lot of energy during training camp.  Most of these players have invested considerable time and effort training during the off-season to prepare themselves for the rigors of the upcoming season.  Proper nutrition is important to prevent weight loss, and loss of muscle mass.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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6 Simple Nutrition Rules for Athletes

16 Aug

Many pro athletes have nutritionists and meal planners who help them eat for optimum performance. The rest of us? We have to fend for ourselves. And while you could spend dozens of hours combing through nutrition books and journals in search of an eating plan that gives you an edge, you probably don’t have that kind of time to spare. Good news: You can upgrade your game instantly by following these six tried-and-true nutrition rules:

1. Aim for Balance

Each of your meals should provide a combination of carbs from whole grains, vegetables or fruits; proteins such as lean meats, peanut butter, or dairy; and healthy fats from foods like olive oil, nuts, or salmon.

2. Eat Breakfast

Your mom was right when she said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. A proper morning nosh awakens your metabolism; improves your focus, memory, and mood; and boosts your energy levels all day long.

3. Eat More Frequently

Though you probably grew up on a three-meals-a-day diet, recent research indicates that athletes perform better by eating five or even six smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. Try to consume an equal number of calories in each meal or snack, and space your eating sessions about three to four hours apart.

4. Eat Before Your Workout

Your car doesn’t run without fuel, and the same is true of your body. Training on an empty stomach — whether in a workout, practice, or a game — is like trying to drive with the tank on “E”… you’re bound to stall. A pre-workout meal provides your body with a readily available source of energy. For best results, consume a lean protein and slow-burning carbs like brown rice, sweet potatoes, or oatmeal about an hour or so before training begins.

5. Stay Hydrated

You want to drink enough water to replace what you lose through sweat, but remember that hydration is an ongoing process. Make sure your fluid intake is adequate at all times — beforeduring, and after activity.

6. Refuel After Your Workout

Exercise depletes your body of energy and can damage muscle tissue, so it’s important to replenish your glycogen stores (the body’s main source of fuel) and supply some protein for muscle repair within about an hour of working out. Studies indicate that taking in a 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein can help you accomplish both goals. Aim for 15 to 30 grams of protein and 30 to 90 grams of carbs after your workout.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

The Perfect Post-Workout Pasta Recipe

4 Dec

p7310141-e1355760455714[1]Regardless of whether it’s after a workout, practice, or game, your body needs to replenish with carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats to recover and provide long-term energy reserves. Sometimes the activity ends right around mealtime, when you are craving something heartier than a snack. If that’s the case, your answer might be my “perfect post-workout pasta,” an easy recipe that’s also an old family favorite. Not only does it make for a great post-workout meal, it can also serve as a pre-workout meal or as a nutritious dinner anytime during the week. (Pasta lover? This may be the diet you’ve been searching for.)

The Perfect Post-Workout Pasta Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Barilla Plus spaghetti
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 10-ounce package frozen spinach
  • 15-ounce container of ricotta cheese
  • Parmesan cheese (to taste)
  • Fresh parsley

Directions

  • Cook the spaghetti according to package directions.
  • While pasta is cooking, mince the fresh garlic (or save time and use one tsp. garlic from a jar) and brown it in two tbsp. olive oil (here is where I also add a little crushed red pepper flakes to “spice up” the recipe).
  • Microwave the chopped spinach, according to package directions.
  • When pasta is done, before draining the pot, save a cup of the pasta water to add later.
  • Quickly drain spaghetti (but do not rinse) and return to the pot.
  • Over low heat, add the olive oil, garlic and spinach mixture plus the ricotta cheese to the spaghetti.
  • Mix until all ingredients are blended and distributed evenly.
  • To add moisture if needed, add some of the saved pasta water and a little olive oil.
  • Season the dish with grated parmesan cheese and garnish with fresh parsley.

This recipe makes four generous servings. Of the primary ingredients, the pasta provides carbs; the ricotta cheese provides quality whey protein (ricotta is made from whey drained from cheeses such as as mozzarella and provolone); the olive oil and ricotta offer healthy fats; and the spinach and garlic provide a plethora of micronutrients.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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You Can’t Do It All in the Weight Room

1 Apr

Speed-Resistance-Training-Parachute-1[1]Strength and speed development start in the weight room.  Stronger and faster is the foundation for athletic performance improvement.

But you can’t do it all in the weight room.  What you do outside the weight room will also have an impact on your performance.  Speed and agility training, sport-specific skill development, nutrition, rest and recovery, and mental preparation also complement and play an important role in your development as an athlete.

Speed and Agility Training

Speed development involves a combination of 3 components:

  • Technique — running form and mechanics
  • Assisted and resisted sprinting
  • Strength and power training, including plyometrics

Agility training utilizes exercises and drills that require acceleration, deceleration, change of direction, and reaction.

Sport-Specific Skill Development

Strong and fast is important, but it won’t help you overcome weak ball-handling and shooting skills.  Regardless of the sport(s) you play, skills practice — with proper technique and lots of repetition — will be critical to your progress and success as an athlete.  Time spent on the court, in the batting cage, etc. should focus on quality, and a knowledgeable, experienced coach or trainer can be a valuable resource to make the developmental process more efficient and effective.  Video is also a great tool for performance development (the camera never lies).

Nutrition

Eating the right foods — quantity and quality — is important for two reasons: energy and recovery.  Before you exercise, practice, or play, your nutritional choices help to ensure that you will have adequate energy to perform optimally.  Afterward, the proper balance of nutrients helps with your body’s recovery process, preparing your body for next time.  You should aim to get most of your nutrients from whole foods, and nutritional supplements (multi-vitamin, protein) can also be helpful — especially since active individuals and athletes have a considerably higher need for nutrients to support an active metabolism.

Rest and Recovery

When it comes to strength and speed development, more is not necessarily better.  The goal should be to avoid burnout and injury caused by over-training, doing as much as you need to do to reach your performance goals, and not necessarily as much as you can (please note this does not mean do as little as you can).  Since training places physical and metabolic stress on your body, rest and recovery is necessary for your musculoskeletal system’s regenerative process.  Generally, there is a correlation between the intensity of your training and the amount of rest required by your body to continue to perform at an optimal level.  Make sure you allow for adequate rest during and between workouts, and get a good night’s sleep.

Mental Preparation

In addition to preparing your body, you’ve got to prepare your mind.  Elements of effective mental preparation include goal setting, visualization, focus, confidence, and commitment.  Be a smart athlete — a student of the game.  Be positive and adaptable, and utilize positive self-talk as a motivator.  Expect success and prepare accordingly.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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3 Essential Steps to Build Muscle Strength, Size, and Endurance

31 Mar

61855_super_deadlift_bar[1]The fastest way to build muscle strength, size. and endurance is good old-fashioned strength training, done right. Over time, strength training challenges your muscles by breaking them down so they repair and recover bigger and stronger than before.

To be optimally effective, strength training must be combined with proper nutrition and rest. Although there are some strategies to accelerate the process, there are no shortcuts. You have to do the work and follow the plan.

Nutrition

Without proper nutrition, you will compromise any muscle strength, size, and endurance gains you hope to achieve. Simply stated, your body needs the nutrients that food provides for growth.

It’s essential to eat sufficient calories, as well as carbs and protein, 30 to 90 minutes before and after working out. Aim for 0.8 grams of lean protein per pound; whole grain and high fiber carbs; and healthy fats, like those found in olive oil, nuts, and salmon.

Strength Training

You’ll need to work out three or four days per week to reach your goal. Here are some guidelines to get you on your way:

Favor compound movements over single-joint movements: Compound exercises, like Squats, Deadlifts, Bench Press, and Inverted Rows, involve more than one joint and engage multiple muscle groups. Triceps Extensions and Biceps Curls are single-joint isolation exercises. Compound exercises require greater muscle activation, recruit larger muscle groups, and stimulate strength and size gains.

Lift heavy weights: if you want to build muscle fast, you need to push your body to use as many muscle fibers as possible during exercise. Lifting heavy weights allows you to challenge your muscles, which is the key to making strength and size gains.

For any given exercise, your training goal will determine the weight you use:

  • To build strength and power, 4-6 repetitions per set
  • For hypertrophy (to get bigger), 8-10 reps per set
  • To improve muscle endurance, 12-15 reps per set

If you can perform more repetitions than that, the weight is too light and you will fail to make gains.

Try supersets: we emphasize supersets at Athletic Performance Training Center. By pairing push and pull exercises (a.k.a., agonist-antagonist paired sets), you are able to work twice as many muscles in a time-efficient manner to help build overall muscle strength, size, and endurance.

Rest

Several different rest factors must be considered in your training:

  • Get a good night’s sleep; seven to eight hours each night
  • Do not rework a muscle group until it has the chance to recover for 48 hours
  • Rest between sets to allow your muscles to recover and get the most out of each set. If you are building strength and size, it’s best to rest between 90 seconds to 3 minutes between sets (except with supersets), depending on the intensity (higher intensity = more rest)

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

6 Simple Nutrition Rules for Athletes

28 Mar

basketbal-fruit[1]Many pro athletes have nutritionists and meal planners who help them eat for optimum performance. The rest of us? We have to fend for ourselves. And while you could spend dozens of hours combing through nutrition books and journals in search of an eating plan that gives you an edge, you probably don’t have that kind of time to spare. Good news: You can upgrade your game instantly by following these six tried-and-true nutrition rules:

1. Aim for Balance

Each of your meals should provide a combination of carbs from whole grains, vegetables or fruits; proteins such as lean meats, peanut butter, or dairy; and healthy fats from foods like olive oil, nuts, or salmon.

2. Eat Breakfast

Your mom was right when she said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. A proper morning nosh awakens your metabolism; improves your focus, memory, and mood; and boosts your energy levels all day long.

3. Eat More Frequently

Though you probably grew up on a three-meals-a-day diet, recent research indicates that athletes perform better by eating five or even six smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. Try to consume an equal number of calories in each meal or snack, and space your eating sessions about three to four hours apart.

4. Eat Before Your Workout

Your car doesn’t run without fuel, and the same is true of your body. Training on an empty stomach — whether in a workout, practice, or a game — is like trying to drive with the tank on “E”… you’re bound to stall. A pre-workout meal provides your body with a readily available source of energy. For best results, consume a lean protein and slow-burning carbs like brown rice, sweet potatoes, or oatmeal about an hour or so before training begins.

5. Stay Hydrated

You want to drink enough water to replace what you lose through sweat, but remember that hydration is an ongoing process. Make sure your fluid intake is adequate at all times — before, during, and after activity.

6. Refuel After Your Workout

Exercise depletes your body of energy and can damage muscle tissue, so it’s important to replenish your glycogen stores (the body’s main source of fuel) and supply some protein for muscle repair within about an hour of working out. Studies indicate that taking in a 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein can help you accomplish both goals. Aim for 15 to 30 grams of protein and 30 to 90 grams of carbs after your workout.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Building Muscle and Strength for the Female Athlete

7 Dec

DSCN0057Strength training can benefit everyone, male or female. And, while there are certainly some gender differences, women have the potential to build muscle and gain strength through a well-designed strength training program. Here are some tips for how to build muscle for women.

Be realistic. Think about (and write down) what you want to accomplish. Understand that progress won’t occur overnight. Set short- and long-term goals, then develop a plan that is aligned with your goals.

Be consistent. Avoid peaks and valleys that can occur as a result of over- or under-training. Commit yourself to a set schedule that fits with your lifestyle, and stick to it.

Push yourself. If you want to build muscle, you have to challenge yourself. That means using weight/resistance that challenges you through a certain number of reps and sets. Heavy weights force your body to recruit more muscle fibers, which leads to muscle growth. It’s not supposed to be easy.

Perform compound exercises — those which engage multiple joints and muscle groups — like the deadlift, squat, and bench press. These exercises are terrific for improving conditioning, building muscle, and increasing strength.

Workout at least three times a week. If you’re a novice, start with at least two times a week. Allow for a day of rest between training days.

Eat well. That means quality and quantity. Ensure that you’re getting adequate calories. Aim for 5-6 evenly-spaced, small meals throughout the day. Your diet should include lean protein, clean carbs, and healthy fats.

Fuel your workout. You need a combination of carbs and protein both before (30-90 minutes) and after (within 30 minutes) a workout. Carbs provide energy and replenish depleted glycogen stores. Protein is essential to rebuild and repair muscle.

Try a creatine supplement. Creatine monohydrate may have the ability to enhance your training — helping you workout harder and for a longer period of time. This could lead to increased muscle growth.

Track your progress. Keep a chart of every workout, including exercises, weights, reps, and sets. A nutrition journal is not a bad idea either.

Get help. Consider enlisting the services of a strength and conditioning professional, at least to get started. He or she can help you to be more effective and efficient.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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