By: Trevor Jaffe
Not to be confused with the television show or the professional wrestler hailing from parts unknown. But rather I am referring to the role of nutrition in your training plan. You have found your way to Darkside Strength. Which means you understand the importance proper breathing, movement patterns and long term training plans. What about the role of performance nutrition?
Many athletes come to me when either their progress has stalled or they have decided to move up/down a weight class. More often than not they are confused about what “nutritional strategy” they should be using. Athletes understand the role of training plans, periodization, tapering and peaking. But often are confused about diet structure. Type the word diet into a search engine and you will get millions of pages for weight loss or health but little about eating for performance.
I’m going to touch on the three macronutrients. Or rather carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Starting with the role of carbohydrates and performance. Carbs are a dirty word to some but they are essential to athletes as the most immediate and efficient fuel to your muscles. Carbohydrates also function to spare the body from having to use protein(muscle) as a fuel source. Which means it can be anticatabolic under times of stress.
When carbohydrates circulate in your blood they are referred to as glucose. When they are stored in either your muscles or liver they are referred to as glycogen. When you first begin to train your body draws on the circulating glucose. When blood glucose drops to a lower level your body turns to stored glycogen to replace the glucose. Which will then be broken down again into smaller molecules known as adenosine triphosphate. Which are your muscles primary fuel.
Still with me here? It a nutshell without enough carbohydrates, your performance as an athlete may be impacted.
How to maximize your carbohydrate consumption
Trained and depleted muscle fibers are the most ready to take up carbohydrates. Besides a fuel source another role carbohydrates serve is in insulin signaling. Insulin is a storage hormone and important for nutrient uptake. Including glucose, amino acids(protein) and creatine. Insulin acts as a key unlocking the cell door to allow these nutrients in so to speak.
This is commonly referred to as nutrient timing. Consuming your carbohydrates around your training or competition window. Carbs are the true key player in the often debated “anabolic window”. While the timing is often argued, the need to repair and replenish is not.
General carbohydrate recommendation for athletes can vary from 1g per pound of body weight all the way up to 5g per pound of body weight for ultra endurance athletes. It is goal dependent but most athletes will see a performance and recovery boost from 1.52g per pound of body weight. The numbers can vary if weight loss or weight gain is included in the athletes plan.
In the next article I will review protein needs and types for athletes.