Diet and Nutrition

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There are three main types of carbohydrates: starches, fiber, and sugars. Starches are often referred to as complex carbohydrates. They are found in grains legumes and starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn. Sugars are known as simple carbohydrates. There are natural sugars in vegetables, fruits, milk, and honey. Added sugars are found in processed foods, syrups, sugary drinks, and sweets.
Carbohydrates are your body's main source of energy: They help fuel your brain, kidneys, heart muscles, and central nervous system. For instance, fiber is a carbohydrate that aids in digestion, helps you feel full, and keeps blood cholesterol levels in check.
Good Carbs are high in fiber and low on the Glycemic Index.
Soluble Fibers lower Cholesterol.
Insoluble fibers are important for normal bowel movement.
Carbs that are low on the Glycemic Index are complex carbs and are slow to digest. This slow pace in digestion prevents sugar spikes and insulin intolerance.
Protein is found throughout the body—in muscle, bone, skin, hair, and virtually every other body part or tissue. It makes up the enzymes that power many chemical reactions and the hemoglobin that carries oxygen in your blood. At least 10,000 different proteins make you what you are and keep you that way.
Not only does eating protein help prevent muscle breakdown, but it can also help build muscles. Combining regular activity and exercise with protein intake promotes muscle growth. High-quality proteins contain all of the essential amino acids and are rich in branch-chain amino acids (BCAAs).
Fat comes in two main forms: unsaturated and saturated fat. Unsaturated fats are oils — the kind that are fluid at room temperature (such as olive and canola oils). Saturated fats are solid at room temperature (think a stick of butter or glob of coconut oil).
You need both kinds in your diet, but the majority should come from unsaturated fats. The current recommendation is that you get about 25 percent-35 percent of your daily calories from fat (that’s 56-78 grams of fat on a 2,000-calorie diet), with no more than 10 percent (22 grams) coming from saturated fat.
Fat is a major fuel source for your body (meaning it provides a lot of calories) and also the main way you store energy. You need fat to help you absorb certain nutrients, such as fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E and K) and antioxidants (like lycopene and beta-carotene). Fat is important in giving your cells structure. Omega-3 fats, a type of unsaturated fat, are important for optimum nerve, brain and heart function.
Also, stay away from trans fats, an artificial kind of fat found in partially hydrogenated oils.
On average, female athletes should consume about 16oz water bottles (~8.25) representing 4.0 liters for women. Male athletes should consume about 16oz water bottles (~11.7) representing 5.7 liters for men. Notably, most of us (athletes and non-athletes) would have a hard time drinking this much water every day. The point is to drink A LOT of water to keep your body hydrated properly; especially for sport.
Sleep is imperative to building lean muscle because sleep is when your body goes into a state of deep repair and recovery.
Aim to sleep at least 8 hours per night, if not slightly more when training gets very intense. Make use of naps if you can, as many athletes who are looking to build muscle will find they recover faster with these in place.
Sleep is also when the body is going to be releasing growth hormone as well, which plays a very important role in lean muscle mass growth and development.
Food to Limit
While it is harmful to classify foods as “good” and “bad”, there are a number of foods that are known to slow down progress in losing fat and gaining muscle mass. Food to be cautious of includes but isn’t limited to:
White bread, White rice, Pastries, Soda, Fruit drinks, Cereals, Cookies, Candy, Sports-drinks, Red meat, Saturated fat, Trans fat, and Butter.
Sugar has a bad reputation when it comes to health. There are a number of natural foods, like fruits, vegetables and whole grains, that contain sugar but are known reduce the risk of chronic disease, such as diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. The true concern is added sugars. Research has shown a correlation between high sugar intake and ailments such as high blood pressure, chronic inflammation, weight gain, diabetes, fatty liver disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Refined grains, like white rice and white bread, have a majority of their nutritional value stripped away. Whole grains contain three parts: bran, endosperm, and germ. Bran is the fiber-rich outer layer that supplies b vitamins, iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, antioxidants, and phytochemicals (natural chemical compound in plants known for their role in disease prevention). Germ is the core of the dead where growth occurs and is rich in healthy fats, vitamin E, b vitamins, phytochemicals and antioxidants. Endosperm is the interior layer that holds carbohydrates, protein, and small amounts of some B vitamins and minerals. These three parts have the following effects on our bodies:
Bran and fiber slow the breakdown of starch into glucose; limiting blood sugar spikes. Fiber lowers cholesterol and assists the digestive tract. Fiber may also helps prevent small blood clots that can trigger heart attack or stroke. Phytochemicals and essential minerals such as magnesium, selenium and copper found in whole grains may help protect against some cancers.
Refinement removes the bran and germ, leaving only the endosperm. This means that all that is left is less than half of the b vitamins, 10% of the vitamin E, and virtually no fiber.
Calorie Counting
When it comes to counting calories and eating to support working out, it is important to know your maintenance caloric burn and to decided on either prioritizing losing fat or gaining muscle.
When prioritizing building muscle, it is important to eat more calories than you would burn; i.e. caloric surplus. This would mean eating 5 - 25% more calories than your maintenance intake.
When prioritizing losing fat, it is important to eat less calories than you would burn; i.e. caloric deficit. This would mean eating 10 - 20% less calories than your maintenance intake.
When setting up macronutrient targets, start with protein. Depending on one’s body fat percentage they will want to aim for between 1.2 g of protein/lbs of lean body mass per day to 1.6 g of protein/lbs of lean body mass per day; 1.2 for high body fat and 1.6 for low body fat. After calculating the number of grams of protein per day, multiply this by 4 calories/gram to get how many calories of protein to eat each day.
Fat should make up 20% of daily caloric intake (fat is 9 calories/gram) and carbs (carbs are 4 calories/gram) should cover the remaining necessary calories.