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I've always 
wanted to model food

The longer I participate in sports, like bodybuilding and biking, the more I realize what a big part nutrition and supplementation play in achieving my best. This is especially true with bodybuilding competitions, where you start analyzing everything you eat and when. You have to fuel the body with the appropriate portions and macro-nutrient ratios (protein-carb-fat) to get it to perform. You can train all you want, but if you don't optimally fuel your body, you're cutting yourself short of your true potential.

If you're like me, eating right consistently is the most difficult part of the fitness equation. Whether it's mental or emotional or chemical, it takes some effort to stay in control. Anything worth having takes effort. It's not uncommon to either unnecessarily deprive yourself of certain foods and nutrients, or to drive yourself nuts being so strict that you dread it and binge. Remember that you don't have to perfect, just consistent. It's a matter of finding the ones you like that give you results. There are no quick fixes. Stick to the basics. It takes some time, lifestyle changes, and finding others with the same passion.

This section is intended to highlight nutrition tips. This goes hand-in-hand with specialized training. For sport-specific training, go to General Fitness vs. Sport Specific Training (in the Training section). Nutrition is just like training in that there are basic components that have been proven to work well, but there are also a multitude of other finer points that can make a difference for you. Start with a plan that you think fits the best and go from there. Try not to obsess over it, but at the same time, keep consistent and keep track of how you feel and perform. There are a lot of common threads in nutrition plans for general fitness that carry over to most sports. So, getting some of the basic concepts firmly embedded in your mind and in your habits will carry you a long way, baby!

NOTE:  Check out www.fitday.com for a good online tool for keeping track of your daily diet as well as physical activity. It's free and also has the nutritional content for just about every food I know. It can really show you how good your diet really is and help you recognize eating patterns.

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General Fitness Lunchtime!

  • Portion Control. Just exercising portion control and following the Top Ten Tips make a sound nutrition strategy for a healthy life. Follow these for starters! Gauge your portions based on this nutritional reference. Get in the habit of eating 5-6 portion-controlled meals per day, and feel your energy rise while your cravings lessen. Don't starve yourself or skip meals! How long could you live like that and how happy would you be?
  • Protein-Carb-Fat Ratios. I'd recommend approximately 40-50% of your calories come from protein, 30-40% from carbs, and 20-25% fat. But don't fret over it--sticking with portion sizes and mainly the foods in the reference above will result in about those percentages.

  • Calorie Control. I don't think you HAVE to count calories, if you know the types of foods and portions to eat, but it is helpful to have an idea how many calories are in certain foods. It's difficult to determine portion sizes of some foods that don't lend themselves well to the palm of your hand/size of your fist visual measurement (like a glass of milk). Also, many foods are a combination of protein and carbs. Knowing how many calories you should consume can be very helpful as you're looking at food labels (you are looking at food labels, right?), or when you're thinking of changing some aspect of your diet.

    So, how many calories should you eat? There are a lot of factors to consider when determine number of calories: Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), Daily Caloric Requirements(DCR), body fat %, current weight, male/female. It's all good stuff, but an easy yet appropriate guideline is the following:

    To maintain, eat about 12-13 calories per lb body weight, per day. If you are extremely active, you may want to even go a little higher. Multiply by 7 to get your weekly total. To lose about a pound of fat per week, you would want to create a 3500 calorie deficit for the week by a combination of reducing your weekly calorie total and burning calories through exercise. And remember, you can't assume reducing your calories even lower will mean more fat loss. Go for the 1-2 lb loss per week to retain muscle and a healthy metabolism while losing fat. To gain, slowly increase your calories above maintenance; building muscle takes time. For a better calculation, check out the 'Game Plan' section in this ISSA article to determine BMR/DCR; it also includes how to manipulate calories for gaining muscle while losing fat.

    Eat your breakfast! Pick one.
    Your macro-nutrient ratios may need to change too based on your goal, and your calories may need to be adjusted based on amount of activity. So, monitor your progress! For gaining, see the Build Muscle section. For losing, see the Lose Fat, Maintain Muscle section. I would never go below 1200 calories per day; this will just slow down your metabolism (mainly through loss of muscle) and make it even more difficult to lose fat.

  • Supplements. Supplements will not be the answer to all your nutrition woes, but they can help. Getting all the vitamins and minerals you need solely from food can be difficult. A good multi-vitamin/mineral pack would be at the top of my list of supplements.

    Protein shakes and bars help you get in those meals, especially when on the go. Really try to get most of your meals from whole foods--the more unprocessed, the better. But having a shake or eating a bar for 1 to 2 of your meals is just fine. If you are looking for suggestions, here are some protein shakes and bars that I like. For general fitness, I would stick with the High Protein, Low Carb variety because it's usually harder to get enough protein in your diet than carbs.



Biking Taking a Break

Netrition - 
The Internet's Premier Nutrition Superstore!

Team Sports - Baseball, Football, Basketball, Soccer
  • Protein-Carb-Fat Ratios. The macro-nutrient ratios may vary some I'd rather be outside, 
but I have to eat. depending on the sport. Football tends to take more explosive strength than the other sports. All require a great deal of starting strength and endurance. Basically, you want to consume enough calories based on your daily caloric requirements to maintain (or build) your muscle and speed. In general, about 50-60% of calories should come from carbs, with 20-30% protein and the rest fat. I didn't find great nutrition links for all of the specific sports, but I think there was some good stuff in the below links for any athlete.

  • Some of the good stuff
  • Hydration. You already know it's important. Dehydration adversely affects performance. Try to stick with water as your main fluid intake, although sports drinks can be beneficial during the game.
  • Supplements. Nutrition bars and shakes can help you get in some your daily meals and a good multi-vitamin/mineral pack helps you meet your greater requirements as a athlete. Supplementing with creatine has also become more popular to aid in improving explosive and starting strength.

Intense training is important, but don't underestimate the power of good nutrition!


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