Sports Nutrition: Back 2 Basics

written by Lauren Elizabeth March 12, 2019
Sports Nutrition: Back 2 Basics

Proper nutrition is key to weight management, sport performance, & health. Having a basic understanding of sport nutrition will help you accommodate food and liquid consumption to compliment your physical activity and how your body adapts. There are TWO main categories that key nutrients for performance fall into: MACROnutrients & MICROnutrients. You hear about the top four macros often: Carbohydrates (CHO), Protein (PRO), Fat, & WATER!!! I will break down all of these for you to get a better understanding.


>CHO provide about HALF of all the energy muscles and other body tissues use, other half comes from fat. 

>Consume more complex carbs (fibers/starches) and avoid simple carbs (sugars).

>Sources: Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, & rice. Remember whole nutrition will ALWAYS be the better source over processed.

>Most athletes should consume for their diet about 55-60% CHO


>Research suggest that athletes require MORE protein compared to the inactive individual. To calculate your protein intake: 1.2-2.0 grams per kilogram (1kg=2.2 lbs). 

>Sources: lean meats(chicken, turkey), fish, eggs, shellfish, soy, & low-fat milk products


>Research has shown that optimal performance has been noted in ahtletes that consume approximately 20-25% of total calories from fat.

>Unsaturated fats are the healthiest: avocado, olive oil, nuts, & fish oil

>Emphasize essential fatty acids that are found in cold water fish, leafy greens, walnuts, almonds, & flaxseeds

>Daily recommendation of fat helps aid in digestion and satiety along with HDL cholesterol benefits and improved heart health


1> Calcium: Second most important nutrient next to water. Key role in bone health; calcium also helps maintain heart rhythm, muscle function, and more.

Daily Recommendation: 1,000-1,500mg/day

2> Iron: Aids in transport of oxygen throughout the body via our blood cells.For athletes that train more than 6 hours/week should have their iron levels checked annually. Be sure NOT to overload on this mineral, can lead to heart disease & colon cancer. 

Daily Recommendation: 10-15mg/day

3> Magnesium: Helps increase energy & endurance. Good sources of magnesium are wheat germ, nuts, rye, soybeans, & figs. If you are an endurance and ultra-endurance athlete consume closer to the higher end of daily range.

Daily Recommendation: 250-900mg/day

4> Potassium: Is a key nutrient to aid in muscle recovery and hydration from fatigue. Sources are fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. OVERLOAD can have a toxic effect on the heart. 

Daily Recommendation: 200-500mg/day

5>Selenium: Benefits the immune system and helps repair daily cellular damage.

Daily Recommendation: 100-200 micrograms/day

6> Sodium: MY BEST FRIEND! Sodium helps prevent dehydration. For ultraendurance activities, athletes should consume approximately 100-300 mg/hour. 

Daily Recommendation: 1,000-4,000/day

7> Zinc: Helps aid in tissue repair after exercise and convert food to fuel. Sources are bran, fish, wheat germ, & yeast.

Daily Recommendation: 14-45 mg/day

8> Vitamin E: Important antioxidant, but extremely difficult to receive adequate amounts from food sources alone (olive oil, almonds, salmon, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds). Supplementation is necessary.

Daily Recommendation: 400-800 international units(IU)/day

9> Vitamin C: Important for structure of tissues and organs (skin, bones, blood vessels). Sources include strawberries, bell peppers, cantaloupe, kiwi, citrus fruits, and potatoes.

Daily Recommendation: 1,000 mg/day

10> Beta-Carotene: powerful antioxidant that aids in repair of cellular damage to cell membrane, DNA, & proteins. 

Daily Recommendation: 25,000-50,000 IU/day Advise to consume first from sources of fruits and vegetables then supplement. 


You may also like