Nutrition & Athletic Performance

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So one thing I’ve seen as a Trainer is the missing piece to the Health puzzle, which would be NUTRITION. The hardest thing to see as a trainer is not the obese individual that don’t do a thing about there situation and wonders why they are where they at, but the person who busts their ass in the gym and doesn’t see the results they want/should be seeing. For different cases there are different reasons, but for today we will look at malnutrition.

Lets first start off by defining malnutrition, as defined by the medical-dictionary: Malnutrition is the condition that develops when the body does not get the right amount of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients it needs to maintain healthy tissues and organ function. Basically meaning if you don’t eat enough you are ultimately hurting your body no matter how much weight you lose the long term damages are worse then any short term “crash diet” benefit you could receive. Another issue along with malnutrition is anorexia which is basically the conscious decision to inflict malnutrition upon oneself, which sounds silly but is a extremely popular method to losing weight for those that either don’t know what they are doing or don’t have the patients to do it the right way.

So now we understand what malnutrition is lets go over how to avoid it. Simply eat the correct amount of calories that your body needs. Now this sounds easy yes but sometimes can get difficult not going to lie, but not impossible to figure out or accomplish. Ill give a few ways to find out your caloric needs:

1. See a nutritionist/Dietitian that will plug your basic info into a formula and calculate your needs

2. You can do the same thing yourself by looking up caloric need formulas online just make sure you use a credible source preferably with a .org or .gov

3. Get blood-work done by your doc to see if you have any specific/special needs

4. They now have devices that will calculate your daily caloric output, meaning how many calories you burn which gives you the X, now the same device will usually come with a a online nutrition program to log food and give you the number of calories you are in-taking which is Y and all you need to do is make X=Y and BAM you are healthy, then depending on your goals adjust the two numbers.


So basically malnutrition maybe the biggest reason you are not seeing results. You can do something about it but sometimes people need to understand they don’t know everything and need to seek help, there should never be shame in admitting you need help.



Performance Nutrition 101


Optimal athletic performance requires food and nutrient intake that is tailored to each athlete’s sport, training schedule and individual needs. Many athletes, especially younger ones, gravitate toward typical eating patterns which can significantly decrease their chances to reach their peak performance. The basics of performance nutrition are discussed here to help maximize your physical potential and reach your performance goals.

Energy is the Foundation for Success

Your daily calorie intake should provide enough energy for all activities, muscle repair and optimal functioning. Energy needs for athletes vary considerably based on individual differences and activity level.  General guidelines are listed below:

  • Individuals who participate in general fitness (30 to 40 minutes of activity per day, 3 to 5 times per week) can meet their daily needs with 1,800 to 2,400 calories. This equates to approximately 11 to 16 calories per pound per day for people who weigh 110 to 175 lbs. Needs may be greater for those who weigh more.
  • Athletes who train approximately 2 to 6 hours per day, 5 to 6 days a week need ~ 23 to 36 calories per pound of body weight per day. This equates to 2,500 to 8,000 daily calories for athletes who weigh up to 220 lbs.
  • Elite athletes who train or compete heavily need significantly more – up to 12,000 calories per day.
  • Athletes who weigh more than 220 lbs may need approximately 6,000 to 12,000 calories per day depending on training volume and intensity.

Monitoring your weight and body composition regularly will allow you to determine whether your daily calorie intake is appropriate. Because energy can neither be created nor destroyed, when you consume more energy (calories) than you use, no matter what kind of food it comes from, the excess is stored as body fat or used to build muscle. Similarly, if you burn more energy than you consume from food and beverages, your body mass decreases. Just as the high performance car uses a special blend of gasoline to achieve peak performance, athletes also require the proper mixture of fuel (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) to perform optimally. Therefore, the “blend” of fuel and timing of meals and snacks are critical to optimizing your performance potential.

Carbohydrates – The Main Energy Source

Carbohydrates, which rapidly break down to blood sugar (glucose), are the body’s primary and favorite energy source. The brain, nervous system and muscles are fueled mostly by glucose. Therefore, a continuous supply of carbohydrates is necessary to prevent body stores from being depleted. Inadequate carbohydrate intake leads to low energy levels, fatigue and impaired performance.  Proper management of the amounts, types and timing of this nutrient is required to fill and refill the main “gas tank”. Key carbohydrate guidelines are listed here:

  • Carbohydrates should make up approximately 60 percent of your diet.
  • Starches and grains (breads, pasta, rice, potatoes, etc) should be eaten at each major meal throughout the day to provide a lasting energy source. Major meals should be eaten three to four hours apart.
  • Carbohydrates such as fruit, energy bars/shakes, and sports drinks are ideal for rapid fueling before activity and immediately after exercise to enhance recovery and muscle growth.
  • Depending on the sport, you should consume 3 to 4.5 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight per day.

Protein – The Building Blocks

Muscles and other body tissues are made up of proteins. Although protein contains the same amount of energy as carbohydrates, its primary function is the growth and repair of these tissues. Because it is an inefficient source of energy, very little protein is used for fuel unless carbohydrate intake is limited or energy demands are extreme. In this case, protein is detoured from its main functions and is broken down for fuel. Eating adequate amounts of carbohydrates spares protein for building and repairing tissues and prevents the loss of lean tissue. General protein recommendations are listed below:

  • Protein should make up approximately15 to 20 percent of total daily calories which most people meet with a typical diet.
  • The daily protein requirement for sedentary adults is approximately 0.4 grams per pound of body weight per day but active adults require more – up to 1 gram per pound of body weight per day. ,
  • Lean meats, poultry without the skin, fish, eggs and soy products are excellent sources of protein. Other sources include beans, nuts and low-fat dairy products.

Fats – The Body’s Unlimited Energy Source

Dietary fats are essential to health because they help deliver vitamins, minerals and nutrients needed for normal growth and functioning. However, most people get more than enough fat in their diet. Furthermore, fat is not the main energy source during exercise and the body’s stores cannot be depleted during exercise. This means daily fat intake is less important than carbohydrate and protein needs. In fact, what leads to fatigue – or what athletes refer to as “bonking” is caused by the depletion of carbohydrates. Guidelines for fat intake are listed below.

  • Fat should make up approximately 25 percent of your diet
  • The majority of fat intake will automatically come from protein foods such as meat, fish, milk and other dairy products.
  • Good sources of healthy fats include olive oil, canola oil and nuts.


Based on the sport, the goal of performance nutrition is to eat carbohydrates, protein and fats in ideal amounts and at proper times to allow you to perform at a high level while preventing unwanted weight gain or weight loss. By keeping protein intake within the proper range to satisfy growth and repair, you can consume as much carbohydrate as necessary to keep filling the main “gas tank” and leave the remaining calories for dietary fats.  For information, see “Proper Hydration”, “Loading Your Energy Systems”, and “Using Pre/Post Snacks to Maximize Training”.

Athletic Performance

Designed for individuals who exercise regularly or participate in sport or other athletic activity.

Athletic Performance Instructions

Your menu is specifically designed to help you reach your performance goals. Here’s how the plan works:

Arrange your meals around your training schedule.
Although the meals appear in a breakfast, lunch and dinner fashion, you must arrange the meals around your training session(s). Space your meals no more than 3-4 hours apart.

  • Your pre-training/event meal is shown under Morning Snack. You should eat this meal 2 ½ to 3 hours before workouts or competition.
  • Your pre-training snack is shown under Lunch. You should consume this 10 to 40 minutes before workouts to maximize energy stores.
  • Your post-training snack is shown under Afternoon Snack. You should consume this immediately after workouts to refill energy stores and enhance recovery.
  • Your post-workout meal is shown under Dinner.
  • Any remaining meals can be consumed in any order that fits your lifestyle or venue.

Early morning training
If you train soon after rising and have no have time for complete digestion of a large meal, make sure you eat your pre-training meal (similar to the meal shown under Morning Snack) as your final meal of the day, as late as possible. Consume only the pre-training snack (currently in the Lunch slot) before your early morning workout.

Pre- and post-training meals
The pre- and post-training snacks are usually shown in a liquid form for rapid digestion. You can substitute these based on preference, venue or convenience. For example, you can eat a bar for your pre-workout snack and a shake after training or vice versa.



Weight Gain & Athletic Performance

Gaining Muscle Mass

Performance and muscle gain are not necessarily synonymous. In other words, gaining muscle doesn’t always translate to performing better in every sport. Certainly in most pure strength sports such as weight lifting, gaining muscle at any speed will generally improve performance. Under most conditions gaining muscle also increases body weight, which may not be beneficial for various reasons including having to move more weight while performing your activity or building muscles in areas of the body that may hinder an important functional movement necessary to the sport.

Controlled weight gain while practicing your sports-specific skill

There are many reasons for controlling weight gain. For instance, let’s say a basketball player gains 5LBS of weight, mostly muscle. The player may not be able to jump as high as when he or she was 5LBS lighter. On the other hand, if the player could afford to lose 5LBS of body fat while gaining the muscle, the weight remains unchanged and the increase in muscle may improve the player’s vertical leap. Another example may be young sprinters gaining 20LBS of muscle in a short period of time, which is not uncommon for young, naturally growing athletes while weight training. In all probability, the sprinter would decrease performance as the weight, including muscle gain, will certainly make them stronger but not enough to propel their body with the extra 20LBS as fast as when they were 20LBS lighter. That said, chances are the speed will come back and even begin to increase as the weight gain slows and the rest of the body’s maturity “catches up” (e.g. height/stride, internal muscle systems, etc.). Anyway you get the point. Weight/muscle gain should be slow and controlled for most athletes and done while they continue to play or practice their sports-specific skills.

Aside from natural growth patterns in young athletes, the stimulus for additional muscle gain should come from resistance training performed in the planes of motion dictated by the sport. This way you primarily gain muscle in areas that would also increase sports performance. We call this sports-specific strength and conditioning training (see articles by NASM – Dr. Micheal Clark).

Don’t eat right, won’t grow right

And of course you know what I am going to say next: no matter how smart or hard you train, if you don’t eat, you dramatically diminish your training results, especially when you eat too little or when meals are not properly timed around training. Growth is all about the food you consume being converted into the materials that build your muscles and other lean tissues of the body including bones. You don’t grow if you don’t eat, meaning to gain weight, you must consume MORE calories and nutrients than the body uses so the surplus of the right stuff (muscle-building materials) are deposited in all the right places to increase muscle size and performance. However, consuming more than necessary leads to increases in body fat at the same time – and that’s what you want to avoid.

How much muscle can you gain

The goal is to gain muscle while improving performance. As mentioned, to accomplish this, the amount of calories consumed must be greater than the calories expended, and resistance training must be incorporated in order to give the body a reason to deposit the extra nutrition into muscle as opposed to fat storage. Therefore, to avoid gaining excess body fat, the extra calories should be no more than the amount needed to build and sustain the increase in lean tissue. With these conditions met, weight/muscle gain can occur at a rate of one pound every two weeks for males and ~1/2LB for females.

Factors effecting muscle growth rates

Many factors influence muscle growth including genetic predisposition, body type, age (young athletes, especially during puberty, may gain weight significantly faster due to the addition of natural growth patterns), and current level of development. In general, individuals with small frames (ectomorphs) do not support the same amount of mass as those with larger frames (endomorphs and mesomorphs). The number and composition of muscle fibers and differences in natural hormone production dramatically affects growth potential. As a person ages, hormone production decreases, making muscle gain slower and more difficult. Lastly, in experienced lifters who have already added a significant amount of muscle, progress is usually slower than it is for beginners. Most people do not reach their genetic potential for gaining muscle due to incorrect eating, dietary support and/or training. However, your genetic potential for muscle gain and performance can be maximized with the use of your personalized dotFIT Me Program.

Carbohydrate, Protein and Fat Guidelines

Carbohydrates will make up the majority of daily calories in order to provide sufficient fuel for training and recovery. The amount will depend on your sport and will range from 2.3-4.5 grams per pound of your body weight. To calculate this amount in grams, multiply your body weight in pounds, by 2.3-4.5 (ex. 150 lbs x 3.0 = 450 grams/day). Adequate carbohydrate prevents protein from being used for energy, allowing optimal growth and repair of lean tissue. Therefore, pre- and post-workout snacks and meals should be composed of mostly carbohydrates, with moderate protein and low fat. Pre-workout snacks can “top off” energy stores, providing fuel for high quality workouts. Consuming a high carbohydrate snack (liquid or energy bar) immediately after training creates the ideal recovery and muscle-building environment. Protein requirements for muscle gain are 0.7-1 gram per pound of body weight per day. Higher protein intakes, which are common with many athletes, will not induce greater gains in lean body mass, and may not create the most favorable muscle-building environment. Fat intake will make up the remaining calories once protein and carbohydrate needs have been met. Your online program’s Athletic Menu contains the proper amounts of calories, carbohydrate, protein and fat specific to you and your goals.

Dietary Support

Dietary support can be safely incorporated into an individualized program to complement proper training and food intake. For example, athletes may need convenient ways to increase calories and meals when whole food is not possible due to the necessity for extremely high calorie intakes, time constraints or availability. Furthermore, various safe compounds have shown to enhance nutrient intake, performance, recovery and muscle building. Refer to the dietary supplement section of your program for your individual recommendation.

Reaching your muscle gain goal

In order to simultaneously increase weight/muscle and performance: males may gain up to one-half pound per week and females up to one-quarter pound per week. Beginning exercisers, children and growing teens may gain more.

Total daily calorie intake should be moderately above current expenditure. If weight gain does not occur as described, you may add roughly 100 to 250 calories to your daily total (based on body size) consisting of equal amounts of carbohydrates and protein and moderate fat. For example, 20 g protein, 20 g carbohydrate, 10 g fat equaling 250 calories. If preferred, use your shakes or snacks to supply extra calories. Following the addition of extra calories, if after one week weight gain does not occur, repeat the above process.

If body fat or overall weight increases undesirably, slightly reduce daily caloric intake or add a preferred form of aerobic exercise until you achieve your desired weight trend.

So there you have it. Do sports-specific training including conditioning, practice your sport’s required skill, and follow your menu plans so that you gain weight in a controlled fashion and you WON’T be ALL you can be, you WILL BE BETTER (and bigger)!


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