How to optimize performance via nutrition
Eat enough calories. Under-eating is a sure fire way to NOT maximize performance adaptations
Carbohydrate intake should range from 3-10 g/ kg body weight/ day depending on fuel demands of sport, training block goals, and training history. Avatar examples: 60 kilo female (132 pounds) should have AT LEAST 180g carbs/ day. 85 kilo male (187 pounds) should likely have AT LEAST 255g carbs/ day. Both of these examples are done using the 3g/ kg bodyweight multiplier. Higher carbohydrate intake will likely be necessary for sports that tax the glycolytic pathway (CrossFit, weightlifting, short- middle distance running, gymnastics, aerial arts, etc)
Daily protein intake should range between 1.2 to 2 g/ kg bodyweight/ day. Research suggests that regular spacing of protein throughout the day is optimal. If in a caloric deficit, increase protein intake to help with lean tissue retention.
There is zero research to support that high-fat and carb restricted diets provide a benefit to the performance of competitive athletes.
If daily caloric intake is adequate (and we are eating sufficient amounts of protein and carbohydrate, specifically)- the “post workout window” is not as critical. There also isn’t any research demonstrating that protein+ carbohydrate post workout has a negative impact on performance- IMO, it makes the most sense to fuel around training- either pre/ intra/ post… pick at least in one of those windows and get in some calories.
Supplements to consider: creatine monohydrate, omega 3, B complex, Vitamin D+K2, zinc+ copper, magnesium, beef liver (Vitamin A, choline), vitamin C, adaptogens
Underfeeding can result in loss of muscle mass, menstrual dysfunction and hormonal disturbances, decreased bone density, increased risk of injury and illness, impaired adaptation and recovery.
The primary goal of a training diet is to allow an athlete to stay healthy and injury free while maximizing the functional and metabolic adaptations to a particular periodized training program. Where some nutrition strategies allow athletes to train hard and recover quickly, others may target an some other types of adaptation. Know your goal for your training block and fuel accordingly. If your goal is to be able to improve your body’s ability to adapt, maybe training in a fully fueled state is not the best strategy at all times. If your goal is to maximize physical performance- training in a deficit for an extended period of time will likely be counter-productive.
Carbohydrate stores provide an important fuel source for the brain and muscle during exercise. Recommendations for carb intake range from 3-10 g/ kg BW/ day depending on fuel demands of sport, training block goals, and training history.
Recommendations for protein intake typically range from 1.2 to 2 g/ kg BW/ day. Research suggests that regular spacing of protein throughout the day is optimal. When in a caloric deficit, higher protein intake is beneficial to help support retention of lean body tissue.
Claims that extremely high-fat and carb restricted diets provide a benefit to the performance of competitive athletes are not supported by the current literature. Evidence has found that in some cases, there is no detriment (in long distance aerobic athletes)- but if we’re playing glycolytic sports, there is zero evidence to suggest there are performance benefits from restricting carbohydrate.
Restoration of energy between training sessions requires an appropriate intake of fluids, electrolytes, calories, and carbohydrate to promote rehydration and restoration of muscle glycogen. Caffeine can also be a useful addition when concerned with rapid restoration of energy stores. The key here is fuel around training. If you know, you won’t be able to eat immediately post training- be sure to eat before. If you know you won’t be able to eat before- be sure you get a meal in immediately after. The point is to have glucose available to your muscle to replenish glycogen stores. If we’re eating at maintenance daily (or in a surplus)- timing is not as important. If we’re in a deficit, we need to make sure that we’re getting in carbohydrate and protein either immediately prior to or immediately after training.
Supplements to consider for athletes
Beef liver (Vitamin A, choline)
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2016). Position of the Academy of Nutrition Dietetics, Dieticians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Aragon and Schoenfeld (2013). Nutrient Timing Revisited: Is there a post-exercise anabolic window? Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 10(5).
Kersick et al. (2017). International society of sports nutrition position stand: Nutrient timing. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 14(33).
Wissmann & Willoughby (2006). Gender differences in carbohydrate metabolism and carbohydrate loading. Journal of the international society of sports nutrition. 3(1), 28-34.