There are 7 items that make up a meal: Protein, Carbohydrates, Fats, Fruits, Vegetables, Water, and Avoid’s. We recommend that our athletes eat five meals a day, and each meal should consist of protein, carbs, fruit, veggie, fats and water. Eating complete meals like this throughout the day and on a consistent basis will allow you to not only make it through the activities of the day, but to excel at them. Here is a short description of what each category can do for you.
Protein consumption is essential for muscle growth and retention The body does not store protein and so it must be restored daily. Consequently the body is in a constant process of replenishing protein so that the renewal can take place. Maintenance, repair and growth of body tissue is accomplished by the digestion of protein into amino acids. Muscle size and strength can deminish if protein intake is inadequate. It is estimated that over 50% of the body’s dry weight is protein. Protein is in bone, skin, muscles, brain cells, blood cells, hair, etc. It is important that you take in only the amount of protein that the body will use as the remaining amount will be excreted in waste and can cause strain on your liver and kidneys.
Carbohydrates, the nutrient needed in the greatest amounts during training and competition, has the primary function of fueling the body’s energy to power muscular contractions and numerous physiological functions. This is accomplished breaking down ingested carbohydrates and stored glycogen to its active energy form, glucose. However, relative to fat, the stored glycogen present in liver and muscle is relatively small. This becomes apparent during endurance exercise in particular, where a lack of available energy can be detrimental to performance.
Fruits and vegetables provide vitamins and minerals that our body needs but is unable to produce for itself. They are a rich source of antioxidants, also known as the ACE vitamins for vitamins A, C and E. Vitamin C for example is a potent antioxidant, which maintains healthy gums, teeth and bones. Tomatoes, broccoli, spinach and red peppers are all rich in antioxidants. Fruits and vegetables are a rich source of minerals essential to bone development and healthy organs. Deficiencies in minerals can lead to muscular weakness, mental confusion and heart problems. Green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli are good sources of iron and calcium.
Avoid’s are items that you do not want to eat. These are items that can be detrimental to your health and athletic development. These are highly processed items that are hard for your body to process. Included in Avoid’s are supplements unless directed by a doctor or certified nutritionalist.
Water is the most important of all. Our bodies are made mostly of water. Water is what allows everything to work together in our bodies from communication to cooling itself down. Athletes require more water than the average individual because they require more of their bodies.
The picture on the right is our Weekly Meal Plan Journal that we use for our beginning athletes or athletes who are having a hard time eating like they should. Keeping a record of what you are eating, both good and bad, can be very effective in meeting your athletic or personal fitness goals.Andrew Harestad Director of Methodology CAMP, Building Better Athletes LLC