Do You Eat Enough

By: Calum McLellan, CISSN, CSCS, NASM-PESSports Nutritionist and Sports Performance SpecialistSpectrum Sports Performance

Are you an athlete that trains 10 or more hours per week? Do you know how many calories and where those calories are coming from? If the answer is no, you could be leaving a lot of progress on the table.

Training 10 or more hours per week, which includes practice, games and any formal training that demands your energy is categorized as “extreme” on the caloric expenditure chart. I can’t stress enough how important it is to fuel yourself with the right amount and types of calories to allow your body to make progress. Since the majority of the energy your expending is carbohydrate, it is important to make sure that your body is receiving enough carbohydrate rich foods to replenish the energy that it has spent.

I have had several instances of athletes who have come to me not eating enough carbohydrates and all have the same issue in performance: plateau. Your body is an amazing machine and it wants to get more efficient at whatever you’re putting it through, and that includes how you eat. If you continually eat the same amount of food but train more frequently or more intensely it will simply have a hard time making the progress you want it to make.

One example of this phenomenon is a nutrition client of mine who is a swimmer training nearly 20 hours per week! At first glance of her food log she had a fairly sound base of nutrition. She ate frequently, including nutrient dense foods such as lean proteins, fruits, veggies and slow digesting carbs, but there was one issue: not nearly enough! My strategy for her was simple; add one serving of carbs (30 grams) from nutrient dense foods every week for 8 weeks. Over the course of the first 4 weeks, she had added 120 grams of carbohydrates to her diet yet did not gain one pound! What was interesting is that while maintaining her weight, she dropped 1.5% body fat! By simply adding more carbohydrate rich foods to her diet, her body was able to make progress in the direction she was hoping for.

Long story short, if you’re a serious athlete and want to take yourself to the next level you need to know what and how much to eat for progress. The best athletes find ways to improve themselves in every facet of their trade. This is what separates the good from the great.

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