All posts in Nutrition

Healthy Habits

Posted in: Nutrition

youth speed trainingGoing into the summer, there is one topic that we feel gets lost in translation but may be more important than any other thing you tell them leading into summer.

On summer vacation, your athletes won’t lift every day. They won’t run every day. They won’t jump every day. However, they will eat every day. They will drink every day.

A lot can happen in three months. Encourage your athletes to make wise decisions regarding fueling their body. There are certain principles and philosophies that are safe and effective that you can share.

Since everybody is different, and since you want to be careful to not speak out of your area of expertise, here are our basic principles for healthy living that can be shared without directly talking about nutrition.

  1. Don’t miss breakfast. The common saying “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” may seem old school, but that doesn’t make it wrong. Breakfast sets up your day, providing energy and getting the metabolism going. Eggs are good. Oats are good. Fruits are good. Pastries not so much. Skipping…even worse. Encourage athletes to be wise about their first meal of the day, not only what it is but when it is.
  1. Your body is two-thirds water, keep it that way. Hydration will always and forever be a point of emphasis. With hotter summer months, we can’t afford to get lazy about drinking sufficient amounts of water. Yes the basis of soda is water but it is most definitely not a substitute for water. The occasional soda is fine, kids will be kids, but water should be the main fluid consumed on a daily basis.
  1. It’s a question of balance. Macronutrient ratios are circumstantial and relative. Carbs, protein and fat intake can vary. Percentages aside, it is important to have a good balance. Some athletes fail to have enough quality protein and fat in their diet. Regardless of what the numbers look like, simply consider as many variable as possible and don’t have an extreme deficit of one or the other.
  1. Frequency is important. Encourage your athletes to snack consistently. Eating to perform looks like constantly fueling your body. How many kids, girls especially, do you know go too long without eating? A tip to maintaining frequency is planning ahead. Being prepared can be as simple as having a piece of fruit or a protein bar with you.

Nutrition is a subject that can lead to much debate, but talking about basic healthy habits with your athletes can set them up for a successful summer and healthy life. If they get their eating and water intake right their athletic performance will benefit greatly. Enjoy your summer but don’t waste it, use it wisely to set up your athletes for a successful season.

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Genetics and Nutrition (part 3 of 3)

Posted in: Nutrition

There are 3 body types each with unique differences and demands, though slight variations may exist due to genetic inheritance. It is our genes that determine our body type, and it is important for athletes to know the three body types so when they compare themselves to others they have a realistic perspective. We want athletes to compare “apples to apples” not to oranges. An Endo morph will never be an Ecto morph, and the opposite holds true as well.

Type 1: Ecto Morph

Long and lean; difficulty gaining weight; generally need a tremendous surplus of calories to gain weight and train moderate to heavy with maximal rest periods (distance runners)

This body type is more prone to needing to consume more complex foods and higher quantities of proteins and fats (scale up calories). These people have a naturally high metabolism and face the opposite problems of the Endo morph, though both should avoid sugars. The Ecto morph is fueled by sugar and desensitized to it, making sugar speed up metabolism as empty calories losing the body’s ability to recognize a positive glycemic response. Glycemic response is responsible for weight gain thus making it difficult for the Ecto morph to gain weight.

Type 2: Meso Morph

Optimal athlete; muscular; gains muscle easily; stays lean; X frame; maximum control over composition with slight adjustments in food and activity (sprinters)

Meso morphs are the most efficient and usually only need to make slight adjustments in consumption and activity to make immediate changes in either direction (direct control of calories). Their bodies metabolize food more efficiently and utilize it to maximum benefit.

Type 3: Endo Morph

Thick girdles; big bones; broad; gains weight easy; difficulty losing weight; naturally strong (power lifters, linemen)

Endo morphs generally struggle with weight gain and must maintain a regimen of reduced fat and carbohydrates with regular cardiovascular activity to manage weight (scale down calories). Endo morphs are highly sensitive to sugar with big insulin responses, which are responsible for weight gain and fat storage. They have to watch high GI foods and over-consumption of carbohydrates.

With an understanding of the body types an athlete can better apply the following standards:

Foods to Eat: (80-85 percent good = balance; 20 percent bad = 7 bad meals per week; based on 5-6 meals per day)

  • Keep it clean — Consume natural foods as much as possible; prepare your own foods and/or be specific when ordering out. The cleaner the fuel, the more efficient the burn.
  • Substitutions — Make simple substitutions, such as whole grains for white products; low- and no-fat products for full fat; lean sources of proteins (fish, chicken, eggs, etc.) for high-fat proteins; and reduced sugar or sugar-free products (Stevia or Splenda) for full sugar products.
  • Key nutrients — Eat quality foods with abundant sources of nutrients including: vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants
  • Limit processed foods — Limit or avoid foods in a box, bag, can, etc. and stick to natural foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, lean dairy and meats/poultry/fish.
  • Antioxidants — Protect the body against disease, infection, illness, free radicals and toxins; help bodily functions, immune system and sensory organs.
  • Foods to avoid — Sodas and most sports drinks (contain 3 evils: sugar/aspartame, caffeine, carbonation), processed foods (have a high glycemic index, contain fillers and preservatives), fast food, fried food, sweets, poor ratio foods (imbalance of fats, carbs, proteins)

When to Eat:

  • Frequency — Approximately every 3 hours, 5-6 times per day, starting first thing in the morning and concluding approximately 2 hours before sleep
  • Never full/never hungry — Never allow the body to get too hungry or too full, which causes binging, unstable blood sugar levels and metabolic slowdown.
  • Ratios/composition — Follow ‘Eat It When You Need It.’ Higher amounts of carbs should be consumed before activity to provide fuel, and a well-balanced meal should follow, including low GI simple carbs, such as a piece of fruit and lean protein or protein shake.
  • Portions — Consume larger portion of calories early in the day and smaller portions with fewer calories later.
  • Timing — Follow ‘Eat It When You Need It.’ Consume in accordance with demand and output. Do not eat carbohydrates before relaxing on the couch, watching TV or sleeping unless blood sugar levels are a problem or stores were depleted just prior.
  • Activity based — Proper fuel and recovery are essential to obtain a safe and effective performance at every level, including day-to-day activity.
  • Breakfast — Most important meal of the day to get metabolism started, blood sugar stable and fuel for the day; should be well balanced and proportioned in accordance with agenda.
  • Fix food with food — Do not justify or correct poor eating with more exercise. Doing so creates an ineffective dependency cycle of acceptability. Correct poor eating with quality eating; make caloric and nutrient adjustments to compensate and balance previous poor choices.
  • Calories (too many/not enough) — Over-eating creates a surplus of stored calories, and under-eating slows down metabolism, creating a “starvation mode” storage of calories and decreasing energy levels.
  • Insulin Response — Insulin is responsible for shuttling nutrients and plays a big role in body composition and determining food destination (store it or burn it). Insulin responds primarily to sugar, as most food is converted to fuel. The glycemic index (GI) determines the rate at which food turns to sugar and how fast insulin responds. Higher = Faster. Insulin also plays a role in determining fat storage, hypertrophy (muscle growth) and metabolic rate. Over-eating causes over-excretion, and under-eating causes low excretion. Balance is key.


Athletes tend to be all over the map when it comes to eating habits and food selection. The fuel we give our bodies helps determine our play. We can’t expect a car to run without proper fuel, just like we can’t expect our bodies to perform well without the proper food. The more balanced and regulated an athlete’s diet the better prepared they will be and the better they will feel and perform.

Coaches have the opportunity to help their athletes become not only better athletes, but also better, healthier individuals. Taking the time to talk to your athletes about nutrition is crucial. It affects not only their mental state but also the amount of effort and work you get out of them on the court or field. A properly fueled athlete is one of the keys to success.

We hope you have gathered important information from our three part series on nutrition, and that sharing this information with your athletes proves beneficial.

We wish you all the best and thank you for all you do for the betterment of your athletes.

Note: Participants should always consult their physician or certified/licensed specialist before beginning any nutritional program. The previous information is not a prescription or intended to cure, treat or relieve any problematic symptoms and/or health-related issues. The information was written by a weight management consultant and wellness expert and was influenced and co-written by dietitians and nutritionists.

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Macronutrients – Feed Your Body for Greatness (part 2 of 3)

Posted in: Nutrition, Uncategorized

Macronutrients are the primary components that make up nutritional intake.

  1. Proteins — contain 4 Calories per gram; 25 percent of the Calories are burned during assimilation (digestion); least likely to be stored as fat; contain amino acids (building blocks for tissue); Sources: whey, soy, fish, beef, chicken, dairy, seafood, pork, legumes
  2. Carbohydratescontain 4 Calories per gram; primary energy source; burn nominal amount during assimilation; turn to sugar as energy source at a rate dependent upon glycemic index (GI) rating (how fast it turns to sugar); if over consumed will store as fat; Sources: oatmeal, brown rice, whole grains, multigrain bread (gluten free is best), whole grain or wheat pasta, sweet potatoes (white potatoes only after workout)
    • High GI (Glycemic Index) Carbs: All carbs turn to sugar and the faster it converts the higher the GI. It is beneficial to keep GI mod-low <70 with the exception of after workout recovery. Example GI rates below:
      • Sugar =100
      • White potatoes/breads/rice = 75-90
      • Corn/corn products = 80-95
      • Chips/crackers = 75-90
      • Fruit juice (only drink diluted or small amounts, 4 oz) = 80-100
  1. Fatscontain 9 Calories per gram; depending on type of fat can stimulate or slow metabolism and assimilation rate; deep store energy source; good fats are Omega 3s (fish, flax, nuts) and Omega 6s (vegetable oil, seeds); Sources: Olive or flax seed oil, Nuts, Avocados, Fish oils

Ratios for Macronutrients

When assessing the intake of macronutrients, take into account the athlete’s activity level, lifestyle, expenditure and BMR. Several other factors also play an important role: age, gender, body composition, physical limitations, health issues, hormones, medications, disease and illness.

Percentage of Total Daily Calorie Intake Guidelines (Protein%–Carbs%–Fats %)

  • Endurance: 20%-65%-15%
  • Sprinter/anaerobic: 30%-55%-15%
  • Lean weight lifter: 40%-40%-20%
  • Growth: 35%-45%-20%
  • Weight loss: 45%-40%-15%
  • General fitness: 40%-45%-15%
  • Performance: 40%-45%-15%

These guidelines reflect the percentage of each macronutrient in relation to total daily caloric intake composition. When assessing caloric needs, consider all factors for accuracy. These assessments are approximate and should always be documented, tracked and reassessed for accurate goal orientation.

The numbers can be skewed according to need — generally, tweak carbs and fats, subsidizing calories with protein to avoid lowering overall calories too far and causing metabolic slowdown.

Remember: If macronutrients are not appropriately assessed and allocated, the body does not function properly, which has adverse effects on goals and can cause health issues. Balance is key. A steady, well-balanced diet maintains health and long-term success.

Establishing Caloric Intake

1 lb of body weight = 3500 Calories

The body uses three energy systems:

  1. ATP & CP (quick, 1 to 20 seconds work) — burns adenosine triphosphate & creatine phosphate
  2. Glycogen (30 seconds to 3 minutes work) — burns sugar
  3. Aerobic (20+ minutes, steady state work) — burns fat

Calculating Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)

Calories are needed for bodily function. Calories can be adjusted based on individual assessments, physical assessments and goals, including weight loss, gain or extended performance accounting for excess expenditure.

Mifflin Formula

W = weight in kilograms [lbs. divided by 2.2]; H = height in centimeters [inches x 2.54]; A = age

Male: 10W + 6.25H – 5A + 5 = Resting Metabolic Rate

Female: 10W + 6.25H – 5A – 161 = Resting Metabolic Rate

To determine total daily caloric needs to maintain body weight, multiply BMR by the appropriate activity factor, as follows:

  • Sedentary (little or no exercise): Calorie Calculation = BMR x 1.2
  • Lightly active (light exercise or sports 1-3 days/week): Calorie Calculation = BMR x 1.375
  • Moderately active (moderate exercise or sports 3-5 days/week): Calorie Calculation = BMR x 1.55
  • Very active (hard exercise or sports 6-7 days/week): Calorie Calculation = BMR x 1.725
  • Extra active (very hard exercise or sports and physical job): Calorie Calculation = BMR x 1.9

Adjust Calories 300 at a time when establishing weight management. Do not create too drastic of a surplus or deficit to avoid shocking the system and interrupting the body’s adjustment and function process. Establish base lines and adjust accordingly without making too hard of a shift to allow the body to adjust. Additionally, learn what works, how, why and at what pace for the most effective long-term results.


Athletes need to understand how calories affect their body and establish a healthy relationship with food. Eating too few or too many calories, eating infrequently, and eating the wrong foods can adversely affect their performance, body image, and self-esteem. The more information and encouragement coaches can provide in this area will benefit the individual athletes and the team as a whole.

Remember that to maintain balance and avoid cravings, eat frequently, 5-7 times per day, and include all macronutrients while avoiding caffeine and consuming plenty of water.

We are all fallible human beings and creatures of habit and comfort. We all make mistakes and have poor judgment at times. The objective is to be consistent and learn, grow and gain strength — not to focus on perfection.

We hope you look forward to Part 3 “Genetics and Nutrition.”

Note: Participants should always consult their physician or certified/licensed specialist before beginning any nutritional program. The previous information is not a prescription or intended to cure, treat or relieve any problematic symptoms and/or health-related issues. The information was written by a weight management consultant and wellness expert and was influenced and co-written by dietitians and nutritionists.

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Nutrition and Athletes (part 1 of 3)

Posted in: Nutrition

Nutrition for Athletes

How Nutrition Affects Athletes

Every cell in the body depends on water, nourishment and oxygen to function properly. In a normal, healthy person, food determines approximately 65-70 percent of how he or she looks and feels. Approximately 10-15 percent of good health depends on exercise or activity; 10-15 percent depends on sleep, and 5-10 percent depends on genetics and health-related issues. A person can eat healthy and adequately with moderate activity and nominal exercise and easily maintain or improve the way he or she looks and feels.

Combining proper nutrition for athletes with adequate activity or exercise creates an optimal healthy outcome with minimal sacrifice. In a highly active lifestyle, such as an athlete’s, the fuel consumed greatly affects performance. Knowing and understanding proper nutrition is essential for optimal performance, recovery and growth.

Once an athlete reaches his or her peak and is competing at the top level, the playing field is relatively equal. One major aspect of training and performance that gives athletes a superior edge over competitors is fuel intake on and off the field. Athletes can only perform, recover and grow as efficiently as the body’s fuel utilization process permits. Any deficiency or inadequacy affects this process.

Basic Nutrition Rules – Nutrition for athletes is an important process that many seem to neglect. Food is fuel!

  1. Most people eat too much of what they do not need and not enough of what they do need.
  2. It is important to learn what is bad for the body and also what is good for it.
  3. Being calorie conscious is important, but understanding what the calories consist of is vital.
  4. Maintaining good nutritional balance is essential for proper fueling and nourishment.
  5. Eating 5-7 times per day creates stable blood sugar levels, energy levels and satiety, while managing hunger and preventing binging.
  6. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and should be one of the largest.
  7. Meals should correlate directly to activity, lifestyle and exercise.
  8. Consume food as needed to avoid becoming too hungry or too full.
  9. Eat clean, natural foods in reasonable portions as needed.
  10. Eat healthy and balanced meals 75 percent or more of the time.
  11. Avoid or limit caffeinated drinks when possible, including sodas. Drink plenty of water.
  12. Approximately 98 percent of fast food is bad for the body. A grocery store is a much better place to find meals and snacks.
  13. Going without food can be worse than eating a moderate amount of something less healthy.
  14. Fix food with food and exercise with exercise. Do not justify one with the other.
  15. Maintain blood sugar balance (with fruit and low carbs) and nitrogen balance (with protein frequency) to avoid crashes and cravings.


To maintain balance and avoid cravings, eat frequently, 5-7 times per day, and include all macronutrients while consuming plenty of water.

Athletes should log and track nutritional intake in a journal to understand what works in specific conditions. First, write down everything eaten for a week and calculate the findings. Additionally, athletes should journal how they feel and how they performance daily to see how nutrition may have affected both. Then, assess and calculate a new program according to the guidelines and repeat for 7 days to compare.

If target goals are not on track after 2 weeks, reassess program logistics. This is the only way to truly gauge progress. The more athletes track and log, the easier it will become to adjust and accept the new program and be the most effective in performance.

Remember these 5 rules:

  1. No or nominal caffeine.
  2. Sleep at least 7 hours each night.
  3. Eat 5-7 times per day.
  4. Drink as much water as possible all day.
  5. Make nutrition a priority.

We are all fallible human beings and creatures of habit and comfort. We all make mistakes and have poor judgment at times. The objective is to be consistent and learn, grow and gain strength — not to focus on perfection.

Nutrition plays a vital role in the health and success of our athletes. Look for our upcoming newsletters “Macronutrients – Feed Your Body for Greatness” and “Genetics and Nutrition.”

Note: Participants should always consult their physician or certified/licensed specialist before beginning any nutritional program. The above information is not a prescription or intended to cure, treat or relieve any problematic symptoms and/or health-related issues. The information was written by a weight management consultant and wellness expert and was influenced and co-written by dietitians and nutritionists.

Read More