How can we use our diet to achieve the best athletic performance and optimal body composition? I have personally found tracking my macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, fats) the best way to recover faster and perform better. Although it may seem tedious at first, trying to measure out, weigh, and record our food intake, the results speak for themselves.
When I sit down with a patient and calculate their macronutrients, there are a few things that I take into consideration:
- The first is protein intake, I usually tell people to try to get 80% to 100% grams of protein per pound of body weight each day. For example, a person weighing 130 lbs should be consuming approximately 104 to 130g of protein per day. That can be broken down by each meal. Protein options include any fish, seafood, chicken, turkey, eggs, organic tofu, lean beef.
- As a general rule of thumb: 3oz meat=18 grams of protein. 4 0z meat=24g protein. I recommend using a measuring cup to measure protein. 4 oz = 1 cup.
- The next macronutrient I focus on is carbohydrates (rice, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, quinoa, fruit). The concept of carb-loading in a nutshell is to eat more carbohydrates on days you workout and less carbohydrates on “off” days. The theory behind this is based on the fact that carbohydrates are stored in our muscles as glycogen, and when we exercise, the glycogen gets released into glucose in the bloodstream and provides fuel for our workouts. If we consume a large amount of carbohydrates and don’t work out, the glycogen receptors become saturated and the excess carbohydrates remain in our bloodstream and are stored as fat in our body. I encourage my patients to eat 50% of their body weight in carbohydrates on the days when they are not working out. On days when my patients are doing moderate-intensity workouts, I encourage them to eat their body weight in grams of carbohydrates that day. On days when my patients are working out 2+ hours per day, I encourage them to eat 1.5-2grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight. I have included a sample chart below to illustrate this concept, adopted from Renaissance Periodization. If you start to focus on your exact consumption of protein and carbohydrates, you will start to notice positive changes in your body. The fat amount is slightly more difficult to calculate, but in general should be higher on “off” days in order to make up for the lower carbohydrate intake.
– Rachel, BPF