Sie sind auf Seite 1von 77

LYLE MCDONALD

APPLIED
NUTRITION

FOR MIXED SPORTS

Strength/Power

Sports

MJKF'
Power Lifting
Olympic Lifting
Throwing Events
Arm Wrestling
Sprinting

Mixed Sports
Amercian Football
Rugby, Soccer
Middle Distance Events
Speed Skating
Combat Sports

Endurance

Sports

Running
Cycling
X-Country Skiing
Rowing
Triathlon

RECOMPOSITION

www.bodyrecomposition.com

Applied Nutrition
for Mixed Sports

Lyle McDonald

This book is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a
substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. It is a
review of scientific evidence presented for information purposes only. Use of the
guidelines herein is at the sole choice and risk of the reader.
Copyright: 2010 by Lyle McDonald. All rights reserved.
This book or any part thereof, may not be reproduced or recorded in any form
without permission in writing from the publisher, except for brief quotations
embodied in critical articles or reviews.
For information contact:
Lyle McDonald Publishing
8701 Bluffstone Cv. #2308
Austin, Tx 78759
Email: lylemcdonald@bodyrecomposition.com
Cover and interior book design by Jazz Kalsi
Email: jkalsi@gmail.com
ISBN: 978-0-9671456-3-1
FIRST EDITION
FIRST PRINTING

Acknowledgments
As always special thanks to Jazz Kalsi for his amazing cover designs. Thanks as well to Derek
Hansen for having me up to Simon Fraser University to put on the seminar that became the basis
for this book. And thanks my proofreaders and everyone who gave me input on this project and
how to best present it.

Table of Contents
Introduction
Chapter 1: Some Unapplied Theory

Chapter 2: General and Performance Nutrition: Introduction

Chapter 3: Energy Intake

Chapter 4: Dietary Protein

13

Chapter 5: Dietary Fat

23

Chapter 6: Dietary Carbohydrates

27

Chapter 7: Vitamins and Minerals

31

Chapter 8: Meal Planning

33

Chapter 9: Around Workout/Competition Nutrition

39

Chapter 10: Hydration and Cramping

51

Chapter 11: Supplements

55

Chapter 12: Changing Body Composition

67

Chapter 13: Putting it All Together

73

Chapter 14: The End

79

Introduction
This is a book about applied nutrition for mixed sports. As you'll see in Chapter 1, the
unusual dynamics of these sports makes nutritional requirements for optimal support of
training and performance somewhat more complicated than for pure endurance or
strength/power sports.
That also means that while there would be a great deal of overlap for either pure endurance
or pure strength/power sports, the information in this book isn't all automatically applicable
to those sports. This will make more sense when you read Chapter 1.
This book originally started out as a set of handouts for a seminar I gave at Simon Fraser
University in Vancouver, Canada to a combination of collegiate male football and male and
female soccer players.
Rather than simply bundle the seminar DVDs with the powerpoint slides and handouts, I
felt it would be more comprehensive to take those handouts and slides (mainly the
graphics) and create a stand alone book on the topic. The second booklet contains the
Powerpoint slides that accompany the DVDs.
While reading the book and especially while watching the DVDs, please keep in mind that I
was speaking to college-aged athletes, some of them away from home for the first time;
some of the information (and this especially goes for the seminar presentation itself) was
specific to that population. Put differently, the folks I was talking to were in a situation that
may be somewhat different than the one in which you find yourself.
Whether they are in the dorms and limited to what's available or living alone for the first
time, issues of financial availability and working around their class schedule makes some of
the issues discussed in the seminar itself a bit different than what a non-collegiate athlete
might deal with. Simply keep that in mind as you read the book and watch the DVD.
In any case, the book works as a stand-alone or can be used/read in concert with the
information on the DVDs. You can watch the seminar and then read the book, read the
book and then watch the DVDs or try to read the book as you watch the seminar. I've
written the book in exactly the same order of topical presentation as the seminar and both
were designed in attempt to build up the important issues from the ground-up if you will.
In any case, this is a book about Applied Nutrition for Mixed Sports. I've avoided most of
the tedious theory that often takes up endless pages in my books and focused only on
practical and applied information (with the exception of Chapter 1). Enjoy

Some Unapplied Theory

s I mentioned in the introduction, mixed sports tend to have some fairly unique
nutritional and physiological requirements which make them distinct from either
pure endurance or strength-power sports. To make this more clear, I want to present
something I call the sports continuum.

In Figure 1 below, I've drawn a line with pure strength/power sports at one end and pure
endurance sports at the other. In-between those two are team sports such as basketball,
football, soccer, hockey, etc. I call these mixed sports and there are other examples that
aren't team based (e.g. MMA, boxing). This will make more sense in a second.

Figure 1: The Sports Continuum


Strength/Power

Mixed

Endurance

Powerlifting
Olympic lifting
Throwing events
Etc.

Football
Rugby/Soccer
MMA/Boxing
Etc.

Distance running
Cycling
X-country skiing
Etc.

Now, it should be clear that sports don't fall neatly into these three distinct categories and it
would be more accurate to place different sports at different places on the line. As well,
especially regarding team sports, there can be differences between positions even in the
same sport. So simply use the above distinction as one of convenience and nothing more.
In keeping with this concept, there are clearly going to be differences in what types of
training the different categories of sport will have to primarily engage in as the major part of
their training. This is shown in Figure 2 on the next page.

Figure 2: The Training Continuum


Strength/Power

Mixed

Endurance

Strength/power
Technique
Tactics
Work capacity
Little 'endurance

Some combination of
both categories of
sports depending on
the sport, position,
etc.

Endurance training
Quality work
Efficiency
Technique/Tactics
Little strength/power

So hopefully you can see part of why the mixed sports activities present the unique
requirements that they do. Effectively, the mixed sports, and again this depends on many
variables, have to mix types of training from both the pure strength/power and pure
endurance end of the continuum.
And, as you might expect, the primary adaptations seen in the different sports are,
well...different. This is shown in Figure 3 below.

Figure 3: The Adaptation Continuum


Strength/Power

Mixed

Endurance

Increased muscle
Neural adaptations
Technique
Other

Some combination of
the adaptations seen
in both categories
depending on on
the sport, position,
etc.

Mitochondria
Cardiac adaptations
Enzymatic
Blood volume
Capillary number
Technique/Efficiency

And the above figure is really the major take-home message of this chapter as it applies to
nutrition and this book. Clearly different sports require a certain set of adaptations which
are stimulated by the specific types of training done.
But while training is what stimulates the necessary adaptations, nutrition is what supports
those adaptations (outside of the ones related to neural factors). The specifics of the
training (which are determined by the nature of the adaptations sought) determines what
nutrition is required to optimally support it.
And this is worth mentioning for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, many sports
nutritionists fall into a one-sized fits all set of nutrition recommendations that don't fit
anybody; everyone gets the same dietary recommendations regardless of sport.
Going further, there is often a proximity bias that occurs in folks who write about nutrition.
Pure endurance athletes tend to think that all athletes are like them and often recommend
carbohydrate amounts that are too high and protein intakes that are too low for other

sports. Similarly, pure strength/power athletes, for whom 5 repetitions is considered


'aerobic' work often decry carbohydrates at all with a focus solely on protein (and fat).
But neither extreme of dietary recommendations is necessarily appropriate for mixed sports
athletes. As noted above in the figures and text, there is a mix of adaptations and training
styles that are performed depending on the specifics of the sport, the position within that
sport and other factors. Mixed sports have to 'cover' at least some of the nutritional
requirements of each of the extreme categories.
Even within a given sport, different positions can live on different parts of the continuum.
An American football lineman may train and eat very much like a pure strength/power
sport since the primary requirement is being an immovable wall that rarely has to move
more than a few yards at a time. A running back is more akin to a sprinter with different
nutritional requirements reflecting the demands of their position.
Hopefully, you can see that other sports can have similarly varied demands depending on
the specifics of the sport in general and the position in specific. For example, while rugby
and soccer are both superficially similar in terms of their energetic demands, they require
different body types and thus different optimal types of training and nutrition. Rugby
players need to be bigger (but rarely as large as the American footballer) than soccer players
and their training, and thus nutrition, would reflect those differences.
The issues discussed above bring up a major problem in providing dietary recommendations
for the mixed sports athlete: in comparison to pure endurance or pure strength/power
sports, the mixed sport athlete will tend to have the most potentially varied requirements.
This issue will be reflected at varying times throughout this book.
In many cases, I can provide only generalities with guidelines on how to make adjustments.
But the specifics of what is optimal may vary quite a bit due to the exceeding variety of
what the mixed sports category covers.

General and Performance Nutrition:


Introduction

hen I originally gave this seminar, I introduced the topic of this chapter by
asking the attendees what the single most important aspect of their overall
performance and adaptation training was. Before your eyes are drawn to Figure
1 below, I'd suggest you to ask yourself the same question. Once you have an answer, look
below. I'd note that the figure below is slightly different than what I originally presented in
the original seminar and in the powerpoint slides.

In it, I've shown that I consider the hierarchy of nutritional requirements. Simply it
attempts to show what, from most to least, is important for athletes to worry about. I bring
this up as I invariably see athletes flipping the pyramid upside down.

All too often, folks tend to focus on high-tech esoterica long before they have the basics of a
good overall daily diet and/or basic supplements in place. But in the same way focusing on
the minutiae of training is not useful until basic training is in place, focusing on the top
part of the nutritional pyramid before you've gotten the bottom parts figure out is missing
the forest for the trees.
As I progress through this book, I'm basically going to look at the pyramid in the order
shown in the figure, first examining basic daily diet issues before moving to the topic of
around workout nutrition. General use and performance supplements along with some
esoterica are discussed at the very end but should only be worried about after the basics are
being implemented consistently.

Components of Daily Nutrition


When I talk about both basic and performance nutrition, I find it convenient to divide
things into four primary categories which I've shown in Figure 2 below.

Figure 2: Components of Daily Nutrition


Energy Intake

Building Blocks

Total Calories

Dietary Protein

Carbohydrates

Amino Acids

Fats

Components of Daily Nutrition

Hydration

Nuts and Bolts

All fluids

Vitamins
Minerals

Those four categories make up not only the basics of general nutrition but also performance
nutrition and I'll spend the majority of this book discussing them relative to their
requirements and roles for mixed sports.
I'll discuss energy requirements along with protein, fat and carbohydrates requirements in
individual chapters along with guidelines for intake. The details of around workout

nutrition are important and complex enough to warrant their own chapter. Vitamins and
minerals technically fall under the heading of supplements although, as a generality, most
of them will and should come from the overall diet. While hydration is technically part of
overall daily nutrition, it's important enough to get its own chapter (and module on the
DVDs). '11 also cover meal planning and show readers how to put all of the information
together in the final chapter.
To give a general overview of what I'm going to discuss in the next several chapters, I also
want to present some general nutritional tendencies, again using the sports continuum to
show how things change as you move from one extreme to another. Please note that Figure
3 is simply meant to represent schematically how the major nutritional requirements
change for the different sports. Nothing more should be inferred.

Figure 3: General Nutritional Tendencies


Strength/Power

Mixed

Endurance

Energy

Protein

Carbs
Fat

What the above is attempting to show is that energy requirements tend to go up as you
move from strength/power through mixed sports to pure endurance athletes. This isn't
universal of course but, generally speaking, endurance athletes will have the highest daily
energy requirements (by dint of the sheer volume of their training) and strength/power
athletes the lowest.
In terms of protein intake, since most mixed sports have to cover at least some of the
adaptations of the strength/power group, I tend to set protein at similar levels for those
groups. Endurance athletes, who rarely attempt to carry much muscle mass (rowing is one
exception) tend to require less dietary protein and their values are set at a lower level.
For the most part, carbohydrate requirements will scale with energy intake and daily carb
intakes will vary the most between groups. Again, pure endurance endurance athletes will
have the highest overall requirements but most of this is reflected in their higher overall
energy requirements.

For the most part, I don't vary fat intake massively with the type of sport, preferring to use
changes in carbohydrate intake to vary daily energy intake. I'd only note that in some
cases, a relatively greater fat intake might be part of the daily diet depending on the specifics
of the situation.
In any case, I'll examine each of the topics I mentioned above in detail in the following
chapters. As I noted, I'm essentially going to work my way up the pyramid from overall
daily diet to around workout nutrition to general and performance supplements to
esoterica, stopping to look at hydration and meal planning along the way.

Energy Intake

he first topic I want to look at in regards to overall daily nutrition is total energy
intake; that is the total amount of energy (in calories) that you consume each day.
For the most part, energy in the diet comes from the intake of carbohydrates and
fats; while protein can provide energy to the body, that isn't it's primary role. As well, using
dietary protein to provide energy to the body is inefficient, both metabolically and
financially. Finally, protein used to provide energy is protein that is not being used to
support the myriad adaptations important to athletes.
In general, athletes tend to have fairly high energy requirements although exactly how
much depends strongly on the overall level of activity and training (both the type and
amount). As shown in Figure 3 in the previous chapter, generally speaking mixed athletes
have energy requirements somewhere between those of pure strength/power and endurance
athletes.
On average, an athlete training even 90 minutes per day may have caloric requirements of
40-50 cal/kg (-18-22 cal/lb). Given modern training demands and volumes, these values can
clearly go much higher.
Of course, total energy requirements will vary quite a bit based on daily activity, a rest day
won't require nearly the energy intake of a day where two workouts are done. As well,
different types of training can have vastly different energy requirements.
So whereas a technical training session might burn very few total calories, an hour of
intensive conditioning may burn a significant number ( 5 0 0 - 6 0 0 cal/hour or more
depending on what is done and the size of the athlete).
With that in mind, some average values for energy intake for different levels of training
appear in Table 1 on the next page. I've also provided some representative daily caloric
values for two sample athletes. I'll use those two examples, a 60 kg (132 lb) female and a
100kg (225 lb) male throughout the book.
I realize that 30-50 cal/kg is a fairly broad range and, for various other reasons, determining
true daily energy expenditure is often a bit of trial and error. There are new tools such as the
Bodybugg/GoWearFit or some heart rate monitors that can be used to get a rough idea of
actual caloric expenditure to zone in on optimal intake levels.

Table 1: Energy Requirements for Different Activity Levels


Day Off: 30-33 cal/kg (13.5-15 cal/lb)
Medium Training Day (1 hour training): 35-40 kcal/kg (16-18 cal/lb)
Heavy Training Day (90 minutes+): 40-50 cal/kg or higher (18-22 cal/lb)
For each additional hour of training: Add 5-10 cal/kg (-2.2-4.5 cal/lb)
Sample Athletes:
60kg (132 lb) female: 1800-3000+ cal/day
100kg (225 lb) male: 3000-5000+ cal/day
Failing the use or availability of one of those tools, one strategy for athletes to use is to
monitor body composition. Simply, if body weight or body fat are going down and that is
not the explicit goal, caloric intake is too low. If weight or body fat are going up without
that being the explicit goal, calories should be cut back.
As I noted in Chapter 2 and will come back to when I talk about carbohydrates, I tend to
suggest using variations in daily carbohydrate intake as the primary method to alter total
energy intake. On days with higher energy requirements, more carbs will be eaten and vice
versa.
To round out the discussion and save everyone some math, I've included estimated energy
requirements for athletes of different body weight and activity levels in Table 2 on the next
page. Simply find your weight (in either kg or pounds) and move across to your estimated
activity level, that value serves as a starting point for your energy requirements. If your
weight is between values, simply take a value between the higher and lower value to get an
estimate.
I should also mention that female athletes (as well as athletes for whom weight-class
matters) tend to be notorious for under-consuming energy for a variety of reasons. Those
reasons aren't important here but chronic underconsumption of calories is common.
For reasons beyond the scope of this book, these women often remain weight stable (while
apparently being in a caloric deficit) but are typically unable to train effectively or adapt to
their training load. As odd as it seems, by raising calories, training intensity and quality
often go up and, contrary to what the athlete might expect, body composition often
improves.
As a final comment before wrapping up the issue of energy requirements, I'd note that
mixed/team sports training is often marked by significantly different types of training on
different days of the week; certainly there tends to be relatively more variety in this regards
compared to pure strength/power or endurance athletes.
From a practical standpoint, this means that energy requirement can vary rather drastically
from day to day. For example a day with only technical or tactical training or perhaps lowintensity active recovery would have energy requirements at the low end of Table 2 below.

10

In contrast a day that included a significant amount of metabolic work or scrimmaging


might have very high energy requirements. This means that determining daily energy
requirements may take a bit of trial and error; please use the value below only as starting
point. Once again, as you'll see shortly, I tend to adjust daily carbohydrates to alter total
energy intake to match the needs of a given day's training.

Table 2: Daily Energy Requirements by Activity and Bodyweight


Energy Reqs. in kcal/kg

33

35

40

45

50

Energy Reqs in kcal/lb

15

16

18

20.5

22.7

Activity Level Description

Low

Medium

High

Very high

Extreme

Weight (kg)

Weight (lb.)

50

110

1650

1750

2000

2250

2500

55

121

1815

1925

2200

2475

2750

60

132

1980

2100

2400

2700

3000

65

143

2145

2275

2600

2925

3250

70

154

2310

2450

2800

3150

3500

75

165

2475

2625

3000

3375

3750

80

176

2640

2800

3200

3600

4000

85

187

2805

2975

3400

3825

4250

90

198

2970

3150

3600

4050

4500

95

209

3135

3325

3800

4275

4750

100

225

3300

3500

4000

4500

5000

105

231

3465

3675

4200

4725

5250

110

242

3630

3850

4400

4950

5500

11

Dietary Protein

he issue of dietary protein requirements for athletes has been a decades long
argument that I'm not going to detail in this book. Sufficed to say, I feel that
sufficient research and practical experience supports the idea that athletes should
consume more protein than required for sedentary individual to optimize their adaptations
to training and overall performance.
Dietary proteins play a number of different roles in the body. While athletes tend to focus
on many of the structural aspects, such as increased muscle mass, there are many more that
are equally important in terms of supporting optimal training. This is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Roles of Dietary Protein


Structural

Hormones

Muscle

Growth h o r m o n e

Hair

IGF-1

Skin

Catecholamines

Bone

Thyroid

Connective tissues

Energetic Uses

Neurotransmitters
Tryptophan->Serotonin

Glucose production
Ketone production

Tyrosine -> Dopamine,


Adrenaline

Noradrenaline

Other
I m m u n e system
Gut function
Ant-bacterial
Blood pressure
Analgesic effect

13

Alanine, leucine
used by muscle

As you can see, protein plays a massive number of roles in the body that are relevant to
athletes. Ensuring sufficient amounts to support training and all of the relevant pathways is
therefore critical to long-term progress, adaptation and training and performance success.

Protein Requirements
As noted above, debates over the amount of protein needed by athletes have been ongoing
for decades and show no signs of stopping soon. But coaches and athletes are less
concerned with scientific debate and more with what will optimize training or performance.
As also noted, I feel that there is enough literature supporting higher protein requirements
for athletes and would rather err on the side of too much than too little. Readers interested
in the details of this debate or the reasons for my decision should look into my book The
Protein Book.
In general, convincing male athletes to consume enough protein is not difficult; if anything
males athletes (especially those seeking strength or muscle mass gains and this can include
many individuals in mixed sports) often overemphasize protein to the exclusion of adequate
carbohydrates or fats. In contrast, many female athletes, often in fear of gaining excessive
muscle, tend to underemphasize or essentially avoid dietary protein. Somewhere between
those two extremes are where my recommendations fall.
As I discussed in the first chapter of this book, mixed sport athletes are in an odd place
where they essentially have to cover at least some of the training, adaptational and
nutritional requirements of both endurance athletes and pure strength/power athletes; as
indicated in Figure 3 in Chapter 2, I generally set protein requirements for b o t h
strength/power athletes and mixed sport athletes at roughly similar levels for that reason.
However, as I also mentioned, mixed sports covers a lot of ground and athletes from
different sports (especially team sports) may have very different goals. For example, while
both American football and soccer are team sports, clearly the need for high levels of muscle
mass or strength/power are quite different. The soccer player would be unlikely to need as
much dietary protein (since they aren't seeking massive gains in muscle mass) compared to
the American footballer.
A sport like rugby might be somewhere in the middle; athletes clearly are larger and carry
more muscle mass than soccer players but, due to the demands of the sport, generally aren't
as big as American footballers. Generally speaking, female athletes often don't need (or
want) the same level of muscle mass as male athletes, for this reason they may choose to set
protein intake towards the lower end of the range.
I'd note that research shows that women don't typically need quite as much protein as men,
for a variety of reasons. Some of this has to do with differences in body composition but
there are also differences in how protein is used metabolically; the end result is that females
typically don't need as much protein as males.
That's in addition to differences in overall goals that often crop up between male and female
athletes as mentioned above. General recommendations for mixed sport athletes appear in
Table 1 on the next page along with some daily amounts for athletes of different weights
and gender.

14

Table 1: Daily Protein Requirements by Gender


Males: 2.5-3.0 g/kg (1.1-1.4 g/lb)
Female: 2.4-2.6 g/kg (1.1-1.2 g/lb)
Sample Athletes:
60kg (132 lb) female: 144-156 g/day
100kg (225 lb) male: 250-300 g/day

A question that comes up is whether protein should be set relative to total or lean body
mass (that is total body weight minus fat mass). Assuming some semi-accurate method of
measuring body composition is available, lean body mass should be used to set protein
intake. Table 2 below provides values for lean body mass based on your weight and body
fat percentage.

Table 2: Lean Body Mass Based on Weight and Body Fat Percentage
Body fat (%)

10%

15%

20%

25%

30%

Lean Body Mass


Weight (kg)

Weight (lb.)

KG

Lbs

KG

Lbs.

KG Lbs

KG

Lbs

KG

Lbs

50

110

45

99

42.5

93.5

40

88

37.5

82.5

35

77

55

121

49.5

109

46.75 103

44

97

41.25 91

60

132

54

119

51

48

105.5 45

65

143

58.5

129

55.25 121.5 52

114.5 48.75 107

70

154

63

139

59.5

131

56

123

52.5

75

165

67.5

148.5 63.75 140

60

132

56.25 124

52.5 115.5

80

176

72

158

68

150

64

141

60

56

85

187

76.5

168

72.25 159

68

150

63.75 140

90

198

81

178

76.5

72

158

67.5

95

209

85.5

188

80.75 177.5 76

167

71.25 157

66.5 146

100

225

90

198

85

187

80

176

75

165

70

105

231

94.5

208

89

195

84

185

79

174

73.5 162

110

242

99

218

93.5

205

88

193

82

181

77

112

168

99

38.5 85
42

45.5 100

115.5 49
132

92.5
108
123

59.5 131

148.5 63

139
154
169

Athletes who are outside of the range of weights and body fat percentage in Table 2 can
determine their lean body mass with the calculations in the box on the next page.

15

Step 1: Multiply total weight by body fat percentage as a decimal (e.g. 35% = 0.35).
That yields the total amount of body fat you have.
Step 2: Subtract the total amount of body fat from total body weight. That is the
amount of lean body mass (LBM) you have.

With a value for lean body mass in hand, you can now determine daily protein intake levels
based on Table 3 below. Again, simply take your weight and cross reference it with the goal
protein intake (ranging from a low of 2.4 g/kg (1.1 g/lb) to 3.0 g/kg (1.4 g/lb) depending on
the specifics of your sport and individuals goals.

Table 3: Protein Intake Based on Lean Body Mass


Protein Intake in g/kg

2.4

2.5

2.6

2.7

2.8

2.9

3.0

Protein Intake in g/lb

1.1

1.15

1.2

1.25

1.3

1.35

1.4

LBM (kg)

LBM (lb.)

50

110

120

125

130

135

140

145

150

55

121

132

137.5

143

148.5

154

159.5

165

60

132

144

150

156

162

168

174

180

65

143

156

162.5

169

175.5

182

188.5

195

70

154

168

175

182

189

196

203

210

75

165

180

187.5

195

202.5

210

217.5

225

80

176

192

200

208

216

224

232

240

85

187

204

212.5

221

229.5

238

246.5

255

90

198

216

225

234

243

252

261

270

95

209

228

237.5

247

256.5

266

275.5

285

100

225

240

250

260

270

280

290

300

105

231

252

262

283

283

294

304

315

110

242

264

275

286

297

308

310

330

For the most part, daily protein intake should simply be divided up across the day's meals in
a relatively even fashion. On training days, some amount of the day's protein intake should
come around training. Around workout nutrition is discussed later in this book.

16

Types of Protein: Introduction


In dietary terms, proteins are actually made up of individual amino acids of which 20 occur
in the diet (many more occur in the body). Of those 20, 8 are called essential amino acids
and must come from the diet; the remaining 12 are inessential amino acids and can be
made in the body (e.g. it is not essential that they come from the diet).
There are actually further distinctions beyond essential/inessential but those aren't generally
relevant outside of very specific situations and I won't discuss them further. With the
exception of some speciality supplements, (and some odd food exceptions such as gelatin
and collagen) all food based dietary proteins or protein supplements will generally contain
all 20 amino acids in some proportion.
With a few exceptions such as candy and pure oils, some amount of dietary protein is found
in almost all foods with the primary source of protein in the modern diet being various
types of meats. Red meat, chicken, fish and eggs are all either nearly pure protein or some
combination of protein and fat while foods such as dairy typically contain protein,
carbohydrates and variable fat content. Vegetable foods such as beans and nuts provide
protein as do grains in varying amounts. Fruits and vegetables typically even have a very
small amount protein although it rarely amounts to very much (a gram or two if that).
Despite a great deal of marketing hype to the contrary there is no single best source of
protein. Rather, all sources of dietary proteins have their own pros and cons and the best
overall strategy for athletes is to mix and match from a variety of high quality sources.
In that vein, I'd note that the idea of complete and incomplete proteins is an outdated idea
and athletes consuming protein in the amounts recommended in this book from mixed
sources needn't worry about it. Similarly, protein from all sources including grains, breads,
beans, etc. can and should count towards daily protein intake values.
Below I look at both whole food proteins as well as the most commonly found protein
powders in terms of their pros and cons. Again, I believe athletes should attempt to fulfill
their protein requirements with a variety/mixture of high-quality protein sources.

Whole Food Proteins


Beef/Red Meat

In my opinion, red meat (leaner cuts may be preferred to limit fat intake) should be part of
any optimal athletic diet. Red meat is a nutritional powerhouse containing iron, zinc, B12
and who knows how many other nutrients.
Like all of the animal based proteins discussed below, the quality of red meat is high and the
speed of digestion is relatively slow. The biggest potential problem with red meat is the fat
content but leaner cuts are available and athletes often need the calories anyhow.
As well, female athletes are at a higher risk for iron deficiency anemia than males due to
blood loss each month, it is that much more critical for them to regularly eat red meat (I
like to see 3X/week minimum) than males to help to ensure adequate iron status.

17

Chicken

Chicken, like red meat, is an excellent source of protein and trace nutrients. It also contains
a factor that increases iron absorption. If athletes can't or won't eat red meat for some
reason, consuming chicken can improve iron absorption from other sources.
The fat content of chicken can vary massively with thighs having more fat than breast; the
skin is usually the major source of fat and removing it results in a food that is nearly fat free.

Pork

Like the other meats, pork is a high quality protein; somewhat surprisingly, pork tenderloin
is shockingly lean although many other cuts are not quite so lean.

Fish

Fish is another high quality protein source and is often a staple for athletes if for no other
reason than it's often very cheap (e.g. canned tuna fish). Fat content can vary massively for
fish but even the fattier cuts of fish have the healthy omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils).
Athletes who don't like swallowing pills or using liquid fish oil may wish to consume fattier
fish to obtain their fish oils; I've personally never met an athlete who consumed fatty fish
consistently enough to get sufficient fish oils on a daily basis.
One concern with fish is the mercury content which can vary widely between fish (fish
higher on the food chain accumulate more mercury). Chronic excessive intake does have
potential risks in this regards as mercury can accumulate within the body.

Eggs

Whole eggs are an excellent source of protein and also contain zinc, B12 and iron. The
biggest drawback is the fat content, all of which is found in the yolk of the egg. While egg
whites provide a high-quality protein (not as good as whole eggs), they do have nearly zero
fat.
A potential compromise for athletes who want to eat eggs while limiting total fat intake is to
combine 1-2 whole eggs with some number of egg whites: this not only makes the eggs taste
better but keeps the protein and nutrient quality high while limiting the total fat content.

Dairy proteins

Dairy proteins such as yogurt, milk, cheese, etc. provide one of the highest quality proteins
known, being a combination of whey (a fast protein) and casein (a slow protein). They are
also an excellent source of calcium and some research suggests that adequate dairy calcium
intake improves body composition (I'll talk about this further in the chapter on
supplements).
There is also evidence that the active cultures in yogurt may help athletes to protect
immune system function on top of benefits to overall gut health. Given the propensity of
athletes to become sick and miss training, that alone would be a sufficient reason to include
yogurt in the daily diet.
Dairy proteins can contain a significant amount of fat depending on the source (e.g. whole
milk vs. 1-2%) but lower fat versions are often available. Again, athletes with high energy
requirements may need the dietary fat anyhow.

18

The biggest drawback for many in terms of dairy (especially milk and cheese) is lactose
intolerance, a lack of ability to digest the milk sugar. This leads to stomach upset, gas and
sometimes diarrhea. Many individuals who are lactose intolerant seem to tolerate yogurt
well and chocolate milk, for some reason, causes less problems.
There are also lactase pill supplements that can be taken with dairy products to improve
digestion, some find that consuming milk with a meal causes less problems than by itself.
While expensive, lactose free milk is often available.

Beans

Beans are a decent quality protein that are typically low in fat and high in fiber. Added to
other high quality proteins, they can bump up the protein intake at a fairly low cost while
adding bulk and fiber to the diet.

Soybeans

Soy beans and soy proteins are currently an area of great controversy. Like other beans, they
tend to be a good source of decent quality protein, many soy bean products are higher in fat
than other beans.
The major controversy surrounds the issue of phytoestrogens, compounds in soy that mimic
estrogen in the body.
While there is some evidence that large amounts of soy products can have negative
hormonal effects (e.g. reducing testosterone in males), this only occurs with large intakes
(>25 grams soy protein per day or so). In reasonable amounts, soy foods can be part of an
appropriate athletic diet.

Nuts

Nuts are another decent source of vegetable protein along with other trace nutrients; while
they can be high in fat, the fat is usually the healthier fats.
As well, despite the high caloric content of nuts, there is considerable evidence that nuts do
not contribute to weight gain for a variety of reasons. As with other vegetarian sources of
protein, nuts can make an addition to other high quality sources, adding variety and some
protein to the other sources.

Grains

Many grains (breads, bagels, rice, pasta) actually contain a small amount of protein (perhaps
4-5 grams per serving) and this contributes to the overall daily totals. The quality of the
protein isn't fantastic but as long as such foods are eaten as part of a mixed diet containing
other high quality proteins, they all still count towards daily protein totals.

Other

Protein is found to some degree in most foods (exceptions being pure fats and pure sugar
candy). Vegetables can have a trace gram, even fruits have a tiny amount. In general, this
isn't worth paying attention to and the amount that can be found in such foods is so
minuscule as to be effectively irrelevant.

19

Protein Powders
Protein powders have long fulfilled a niche in athletic nutrition with progressively more
hyped up claims being made over the years. While it is eminently possible to achieve all
but the highest protein intakes without the use of protein powders or supplements, I feel
that powders can provide convenience; this is especially important for athletes in college or
school who may not have time to eat the multiple whole food meals needed to meet their
daily protein requirements.
Mixing up blender shakes with a combination of protein powder, milk, fruit, peanut butter,
or what have you can provide those athletes a way to obtain sufficient calories and protein
within the constraints of a busy schedule.
As well, around training, powders are often superior for a variety of reasons that I'll address
both below and in the chapter on around workout nutrition. Simply, around training,
whole foods can cause stomach upset and nausea, not what an athlete wants during intense
training.
Finally, when traveling, many athletes find it difficult to maintain proper nutrition and
protein powders, due to their ease of transport may allow athletes to ensure at least
adequate protein intake when they are in a situation when food availability is different or
limited.
I should note that protein powders/supplements are a huge commercial industry and
companies continue to make ludicrous and unsubstantiated claims about their particular
products. With almost no exception, these claims are incorrect.
Even if they were true and a given protein powder was a few percentage points better than
another, paying two to three times as much money for, at best, a theoretical few percentage
benefit is not cost-effective. It's just as easy to consume more of the cheaper protein.
Whey
Whey is one of the sub-fractions found in dairy proteins and typically comprises roughly
20% of the total protein content (the other 80% is casein, discussed below).
Whey digests rapidly and some work suggests that this rapid digestion stimulates protein
synthesis. At the same time, a significant amount of work suggests that, by itself, whey is
actually inferior to slower proteins in terms of the actual amount of protein retained by the
body.
Whey tends to mix easily, is a nice source of calcium and is most appropriate before and
during workout since it's easily digestible. Unless an athlete is having to drastically restrict
carbs, I recommend inexpensive whey protein concentrate.
Isolates may have a touch more protein and fewer carbohydrates per serving but cost more,
all of the fancy whey's provide no real benefit at much higher cost. Some whey protein
concentrates still contains milk sugar (lactose) making them inappropriate for individuals
who are lactose intolerant.

20

Casein

Casein is the other milk protein fraction, typically comprising - 8 0 % of milk protein. It is
very slow digesting and a good deal of work suggests that this slow digestion is superior for
stimulating protein gain in the body (casein seems to inhibit protein breakdown).
Like whey, casein is an excellent source of dairy calcium, it is also good when dieting as it
tends to keep people full longer due to it's slow digestion.
Because of how long it takes to digest, casein is generally inappropriate for immediate-pre or
during workout nutrition. It should be saved for the post-workout or other time periods.
Casein doesn't terribly mix well (you will usually need a blender) and can have a bit of a
chalky taste to some people. Like whey, casein can cause problems for folks who are lactose
intolerant. Many commercial casein products are lactose free.

Milk Protein Isolate (MPI)

MPI is a protein concentrate derived from whole milk and is one of my most highly
regarded protein powders. MPI contains whey and casein in the same ratios as in milk but
in isolated form. Like whey/casein, MPI is an excellent source of dairy calcium, it shares
many of the characteristics of casein; it doesn't mix without a blender or shaker bottle and
can taste a bit chalky.
MPI is excellent for dieting and as a post-workout supplement. Like casein, due to it's slow
digesting nature, MPI tends to be a poor choice pre- or during-workouts.

Soy Protein Isolate

Soy protein isolate is actually a high quality protein as it is typically fortified with the
limiting amino acids. It's fast digesting, making it appropriate for immediate pre- and
during workout applications. It can often taste a little weird to people.
Research has shown that soy protein is inferior to milk proteins for promoting muscle
growth, but soy has also been shown to increase the body's antioxidant levels during
training.
For vegetarian athletes, soy protein isolate is one of the few decent powders available. Most
of the other (hemp, pea, rice, and a couple of others) aren't very high quality, mix terribly
and usually taste worse.
As with soybeans, discussed above, the biggest controversy over soy protein is the same as
for soy bean protein; the phytoestrogen c o n t e n t . Until more data is available I'd
recommend limiting soy protein powder to no more than -20-25 grams per day. Please note
that many commercial food products and sports bars use soy protein (because it's cheap)
and athlete may already be consuming soy protein in some amount before adding more.

Other protein powders

There are a number of other protein powders including egg protein (both egg white and a
new whole egg protein) along with other vegetarian sources (hemp, pea, rice). Outside of
vegetarian athletes or those who can't consume dairy proteins such as whey, casein or MPI, I
see little benefit to them.

21

Dietary Fat

iven the incredible controversy over dietary fats in the mainstream of nutrition,
readers may be surprised to find that I don't have much to say about them, at least
not with regards to athletes. Now, certainly, for inactive, overweight individuals,
the details of fat quality and quantity are of huge importance in terms of overall health risk.
But this does not describe athletes.
Highly active individuals who maintain a reasonable body fat level and who are engaged in
large amounts of activity simply needn't be terribly concerned with the details of fat quality
unless the diet is extremely imbalances to begin with.
Certainly many athletes over-consume dietary fat often due to choosing high-fat protein
sources. One potential effect of this is that an excess of dietary fat prevents adequate
carbohydrate from being consumed to optimally support training or competition. As well,
due to the high energy density of dietary fats (i.e. they contain a lot of calories in little
space), excess dietary fat can cause unwanted weight or body fat gains.
But if you follow the recommendations I'm going to make for dietary fat in this chapter
including meeting the small essential fat requirement, I don't find that worrying massively
about the type of fat consumed is worth the effort.
Dietary fats play a number of roles in body although a primary one is energetic. Fatty acids
can be burned in skeletal muscle and elsewhere to provide energy and, to a great degree,
stored body fat is simply a store of fat for use when sufficient energy isn't available from
other sources. I'd note that even the leanest of athletes has more than enough fat energy
stored to cover the requirements of all but the most extreme activity (e.g. multiple day
endurance events).
There is also a small store of fat within muscle called intra-muscular triglycerides (IMTG).
these can be used directly during some sorts of training (primarily endurance type training);
again their role is energetic.
However, this is certainly not the only function of dietary fats in the body; it is turning out
that fatty acids are important in other processes important to athletes. One of these has to
do with inflammation, a topic I'll come back to when I talk about the fish oils in Chapter
11.

23

Fatty acids also modulate immune system function, cell membrane fluidity and a number of
other processes. My point being that fatty acids are more than just stored energy that looks
unaesthetic. Rather, fatty acids play a number of important biological roles and, at least
with regards athletic performance, both too little and too much can be a problem.

Dietary Fat Recommendations


For both male and female athletes involved in mixed sports, I recommend a daily dietary fat
intake of 1.1-2.2 g/kg (0.45-1.0 g/lb). So our 60kg female athlete might consume between
66-132 grams of fat per day, our 100kg male athlete 110-200 grams per day.
There can be some variance in this, mind you but this tends to provide a moderate amount
of dietary fat without providing too much. This not only allows more food flexibility but
ensures that adequate amounts of the essential fatty acids can be consumed. It also will
leave plenty of room for the consumption of sufficient protein and carbohydrate unless
calories are being severely restricted. Under that condition, daily dietary fat intake may
need to be taken below the above value to leave sufficient 'room' for the other nutrients.
In Table 1 below, I've given fat intake values for different body weights and intake levels.

Table 1: Dietary Fat by Body Weight and Intake Level


Dietary fat (g/kg)

2.1

2.2

0.45 0.59 0.68 0.77 0.86 0.95

1.0

1.1

Dietary fat (g/lb)

1.3

1.5

1.7

1.9

Weight (kg)

Weight (lb.)

50

110

55

65

75

85

95

105

110

55

121

60

71

82

93

104

115

121

60

132

66

78

90

102

114

126

132

65

143

71

78

97

110

123

136

143

70

154

77

91

105

119

133

147

154

75

165

82

97

112

127

142

157

165

80

176

88

104

120

136

152

168

176

85

187

93

110

127

144

142

178

187

90

198

99

117

135

153

171

189

198

95

209

104

123

142

161

180

199

209

100

225

110

130

150

170

190

210

220

As with previous tables, simply take your weight and cross-reference it with your goal fat
intake to find out how much fat you should be consuming on a daily basis. All values in
Table 1 are in grams and would be divided up roughly evenly across the day's meals. One
exception to this is immediately before or during workout where dietary fats tend to slow
digestion and may cause stomach upset. I'll discuss this more in the chapter on around
workout nutrition.

24

Types of Dietary Fats


Dietary fats are typically subdivided into four primary categories which I've listed below
with short descriptions.
Trans-fatty acids: Of the four categories of fatty acid, trans-fatty acids (aka trans-fats aka
partially hydrogenated vegetable oils) are the ones that tend to have the least controversy
among them; everyone agrees that they are bad. Primarily found in processed food, transfats can cause health and other issues in even small amounts. They should be avoided as
much as possible although it will be generally impossible to avoid their intake completely.
Saturated fats: Saturated fats have traditionally been thought of as an unhealthy fat
although, as it turns out, the picture is far more complicated than that. Certainly excessive
saturated fat intake appears to cause some health issues but it actually turns out that some
saturated fats are effectively neutral in terms of their health effects.
Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and almost exclusively found in foods of animal
origin (palm kernel and coconut oil are two exceptions). For the most part, highly active
athletes needn't worry excessively about saturated fat intake. This is especially true if they
follow my recommendations for total fat intake in this chapter.
Monounsaturated fats: Liquid at room temperature, monounsaturated fat (with olive oil
being perhaps the best known dietary source) is thought to be either neutral or beneficial to
overall human health. As it turns out, most foods that contain a lot of dietary fat have oleic
acid (the main monounsaturated fat) as their primary fat.
If you eat any dietary fat at all, you'll get monounsaturated fat without trying very hard.
Athletes, who for whatever reason, need to add fat to their diet may find that using olive oil
or something similar on top of salads is one way to bump up total fat intake through a
neutral or health promoting fat.
Polyunsaturated fats: Also liquid at room temperature, polyunsaturated fatty acids are
technically a sub-category of unsaturated fats with the monounsaturated fats discussed
above. However, they are distinct enough to warrant their own section, primarily because
two of the polyunsaturated fats are essential nutrients.
That is, they are required for life and cannot be made within the body; they must come
from the diet. I'll spare you the full names of the two fatty acids but, generally, they are
divided into what are called w-3 (omega-3) or w-6 (omega-6 fatty acids).
Both are essential but, as it turns out, the modern diet tends to contain quite a bit of w-6
and very little w-3. The only exception is diets that contain a lot of cold water/fatty fish. In
general, athletes consuming fat at the level recommended in this book needn't worry about
adequate w-6 intake; they'll get it without trying.
However, getting sufficient w-3 i n t a k e is n e a r l y i m p o s s i b l e in m o s t diets and
supplementation is usually required. I'll talk about the w-3 fatty acids (primarily the fish
oils in the chapter on supplements).
With the exception of the trans-fats, which mostly everyone should try to limit, athletes

25

should simply get their fats from a mix of the above. With the exception of the w-3's,
which almost always have to be supplemented, simply consuming dietary fats from a mix of
sources (animal and vegetable) should ensure an even mixture of the above fatty acids
without much concern or worry.

26

Dietary Carbohydrates

he issue of carbohydrate requirements for athletes is another that has often found
itself as the center of some controversy. At one extreme are nutritionists who give the
same high carbohydrate recommendations to all athletes regardless of sport or
specifics; at the other are individuals who argue that carbs are unnecessary for athletic
performance. As is so often the case when two extremes present themselves, the truth
usually lies somewhere in the middle.
Certainly pure endurance athletes, for whom caloric expenditure and carbohydrate
requirements tend to be the highest don't make a great model for most mixed sports. As I
mentioned in Chapter 1, mixed sports often have to cover some of the training/adaptations
that occur in the pure endurance sports but it's never taken to the same extreme.

All too often dietitians will recommend the same massive carb requirements to all athletes
despite the fact that a pure endurance athlete might be doing 2-6 hours of continuous
activity on a near daily basis while a mixed sport athlete may only do an hour of
conditioning several times per week.
At the same time, the idea that mixed sports athletes need no dietary carbohydrate is
equally flawed. All mixed sports training includes e some amount of high-intensity training
and competition requirements and that type of activity can only be sustained by glycogen
breakdown (fats can't provide energy rapidly enough).
Glycogen is simply a long-chain of glucose molecules that the body stores in muscle and
liver for use as energy as needed. There is also glucose found in the bloodstream and
consuming sufficient carbohydrates around/during training is critical to preventing blood
glucose from falling. I'll discuss this more when I talk about around workout nutrition.
W h i c h is why in this chapter you will find the broadest of all of the nutritional
recommendations I'm going to make for mixed sports. As I discussed in Chapter 3 on
energy intake, caloric requirements can vary massively for mixed sports athletes due to the
vast differences in training on any given day.

27

As I've mentioned throughout this book while I tend to keep protein and dietary fat fairly
static on a day to day basis, carbohydrate intake will tend to be the most variable based on
the day's activities. On days with higher energy requirements (secondary to high training
loads) more carbs will be needed and vice versa; on days off or technical/tactical days when
energy requirements are lower, carb requirements will be proportionally lower.

Dietary Carbohydrate Recommendations


As a starting point for mixed sports, I recommend a carbohydrate intake of 3.3-6.6 g/kg (1.53 g/lb). So our 60kg female athlete might be consuming 180-400 g/day of carbs; our 100kg
male athlete 300-600 grams per day on average.
Under conditions of extremely high training loads, more carbohydrate than this may be
required but, on average, the above amounts seems to cover most training. To put this in
perspective, recommendations for endurance athletes involved in high-volumes of daily
training can reach 10-12 g/kg (4.5-5.5 g/lb). But this is only for athletes training 3-6
hours/day at moderate to high intensities.
As in the other chapters, Table 1 shows carbohydrate requirements based on body weight
and chosen carbohydrate level.

Table 1: Dietary Carbohydrate by Body Weight and Intake Level

Dietary Carbs (g/kg)

3.3 3.6 3.9 4.2 4.5 4.8 5.1 5.4 5.7 6.0 6.3 6.6

Dietary Carbs(g/lb)

1.5 1.6 1.7

1.9 2.0 2.2 2.3 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 3.0

Weight (kg)

Weight (lb.)

50

110

165 180 195 210 225 240 255 270 285 300 315 330

55

121

181 198 215 231 247 264 280 297 313 330 346 363

60

132

198 216 234 252 270 288 306 324 342 360 378 396

65

143

214 234 253 273 292 312 331 351 370 390 410 429

70

154

231 252 273 294 315 336 357 378 399 420 441 462

75

165

247 270 292 315 337 360 382 405 427 450 472 495

80

176

264 288 312 336 360 384 408 432 456 480 504 528

85

187

280 306 331 357 382 408 433 459 484 510 535 561

90

198

297 324 351 378 405 432 459 486 513 540 567 594

95

209

313 342 370 399 427 456 484 513 541 570 598 627

100

225

330 360 390 420 450 480 510 540 570 600 630 660

All values are in grams and, as with the other nutrients, total amounts should be spread
throughout the day's meals. On training days, some amount (often quite a bit) will be
placed around workouts, a topic discussed in more detail in a Chapter 9.

28

Types of Dietary Carbohydrates


Over the years, carbohydrates have been subdivided depending on all sorts of classifications.
From the original ideas about complex vs. simple carbohydrates to starchy vs. fibrous
carbohydrates to ideas about the glycemic index (GI) and the glycemic load (GL), folks have
long looked for a way to distinguish one carbohydrate from another.
Rather than get into those details, I'm going to fairly crudely divide dietary carbohydrates
into four categories; Table 2 lists each broad category with some examples of foods in each
one.

Table 2: Different Sources of Dietary Carbohydrates


Starches: Grains, pasta, breads, potatoes of all sorts, cereals, etc.
Fruit: All types of fruits.
Vegetables: All vegetables. Note that some vegetables such as peas, carrots and a
handful of others are often considered 'starchy vegetables' as they contain quite
a bit of digestible carbohydrate.
Everything-else: Other foods containing carbohydrate including dairy foods and
what many would think of as 'junk' food (e.g. candy, sweets, etc.)

I would note that, regardless of what else is being consumed for carbohydrate intake, fruits
and vegetables must be part of the overall diet. They provide numerous nutrients (many of
which nutritional science has yet to discover/study), fiber, etc. I often find that athletes
overemphasize starchy carbohydrates to the exclusion of fruits and vegetables. But they
must be part of the daily diet.
The starch category should be fairly explanatory and, by and large, will and should make up
the largest proportion of daily carbohydrate intake. Most starches are predominantly
carbohydrate with a bit of protein and only trace amounts of fat.
Fruits would probably make up the second largest contribution to daily carbohydrate intake.
On days that athletes have minimal energy expenditure and carbohydrate requirements, it's
actually possible to consume fruits as the sole source of carbohydrates. Of course, fruits
contain other nutrients such as vitamins and minerals along with fiber. I'd note that there
is no single best fruit, all have their benefits and athletes should eat a variety of fruits
whenever possible.
With the exception of the aforementioned starchy vegetables, most vegetable contain little
digestible carbohydrate. While it's not entirely true that humans can't digest fiber (we can
digest some types of fibers in the intestine), the simple fact is that vegetables provide various
nutrients (vitamins and minerals along with a class of compounds called phytonutrients)
along with fiber that is important for overall health.

29

And finally is the everything else category: as listed above dairy foods go here (as most
contain some amount of carbohydrate) as would foods that many consider as 'junk foods'
such as candies and sweets (many of which also contain significant amount of dietary fat).
Dairy foods were discussed in the chapter on protein and, for various reasons ranging from
their calcium content to their high-quality protein content to the fact that they appear to
positively impact on body composition.
But what about junk foods such as candies and sweets, do they have a place in the athletic
diet? Certainly such foods are often criticized for having negative effects on either health or
body composition. And certainly, for non-athletes, there is some validity to this idea.
However, for athletes with very high energy requirements, and often limited time to eat (by
the time you factor in training once or more daily, sleeping and work or school, there is
often limited time to consume an enormous amount of food), some amount of energy
dense 'junk' food may be necessary to fulfill total daily energy and carbohydrate
requirements. So long as the athlete is highly active and in energy balance, there is really
no major health or performance decrement due to the inclusion of such foods.
Please make no mistake, I'm not recommending that they make up even a large proportion
of the diet but for athletes who simply can't consume enough food from the 'healthier'
carbs, there may be no other choice but to include some amount of 'junk food'.
To sum up, the simple fact is that mixed sports athletes will require some amount of
carbohydrates in the diet although this amount can vary significantly from day to day
depending on the type of training being done.
The carbohydrates consumed can be roughly grouped into different categories including
starches, fruits and vegetables, and other (including dairy and what most would consider
junk food). Regardless of what else is eaten, at the very least some type of vegetables must
be eaten on a daily basis. Depending on the total carbohydrate intake for the day, fruits,
starches and even 'junk foods' may be consumed to meet total daily carbohydrate intake
goals.

30

Vitamins and Minerals

actually don't have a massive amount to say about vitamins and minerals. Certainly
they are important for overall health and athletic performance. But while many
exciting claims have been made for performance enhancing effects of various nutrients,
invariably the only real time when a true performance boost can be expected from
consuming an isolated vitamin or mineral is when a specific deficiency is being corrected.
Once intake is adequate, taking more rarely if ever has any effect (beyond perhaps a
placebo).
In the way that dietary protein can be seen as providing the building blocks for tissue
synthesis and carbs and fats primarily provide energy for various processes in the body,
vitamins and minerals can be conceptualized as the nuts and bolts that hold it all together.
Endless reactions in the body require various vitamins and minerals (e.g. calcium is critical
for the regulation of muscular contraction, various vitamins are required for optimal red
blood cell synthesis) and many minerals have a structural role as well (cf. calcium and bone
density). Consuming sufficient amounts of both vitamins and minerals on a daily basis is
therefore crucial for both optimal health and athletic performance.
Now, a long-standing argument has been whether or not athletes, by dint of their training,
have higher requirements for nutrients than the average person. And the answer is that
they most likely do. That would tend to suggest supplementation is necessary to some
degree. The counter-argument to this is that, due to their increased total food intake (e.g.
increased caloric, protein, carb and fat intake), they already get more nutrients than
everyone else. And there is some truth to this as well.
Even there between situations where athletes restrict their food intake (common among
both female and weight-class athletes) or simply have a poor overall diet, a variety of
nutritional deficiencies tend to occur commonly in athletes. I've listed the major ones in
Table 1 on the next page along with some of their important roles relative to athletes.
I'd note that many of the deficiencies I've listed tend to be more common in female at
athletes (as well as athletes who try to keep their bodyweight low) especially Iron, B12, and
Zinc. This commonly occurs when females forego red meat in the diet. Calcium status can

31

also be problematic, especially when females eliminate dairy foods for some reason) I
addressed both issues in Chapter 4 on protein and preventing these deficiencies are part of
the reason I so strongly recommend both red meat and dairy proteins as part of the diet.

Table 1: Common Vitamin/Minerals Deficiencies in Athletes


Iron: Critical for optimal endurance performance and red blood cell production
Zinc: Involved in endless chemical reactions in the body, including hormone levels
Calcium: Bone health, may impact positively on body composition
B12: Long-term deficiencies can cause pernicious anemia
Magnesium: Cramping, numerous chemical reactions

For the most part, I would rather see athletes do their best to achieve their vitamin and
mineral intake through diet although, as I'll discuss in Chapter 11 on supplements, a basic
multi-vitamin/mineral of some sort can be an inexpensive 'nutritional insurance'.
I would note that certain nutrients can not be put into most multis in sufficient amounts to
correct a frank deficiency Calcium is one very specific example, the amount required on a
day-to-day basis cannot be put in a single once-per-day multivitamin/mineral. In the case
of an athlete who can't or won't consume dairy, a specific calcium supplement may be
required.
Athletes who don't or won't eat red meat often find themselves in trouble in terms of iron
status. Although this is a bigger issue for endurance athletes, mixed sports often have
enough of an endurance component to make iron insufficiency an issue. And while iron
supplements are available (usually as some type of ferrous sulfate), doses are high and often
cause problems with constipation and tarry bowel movements.
One solution for athletes suffering from iron deficiency anemia, but who have problems
with non-heme iron supplements is a product called Proferrin. This is a heme iron
supplement it has been shown to improve iron status without the massive doses that so
often cause problems with other supplements. It is more expensive but this may be worth
pursuing for athletes who have issues with their iron status but simply cannot tolerate
commercial supplements.
Magnesium is difficult to get enough of in a multi-vitamin and some athletes, especially
those who sweat a lot and have issues with cramping, may find that specific
supplementation is both beneficial and necessary. Again, I'll talk about doses and types in
the chapter on supplements.

32

Meal Planning

aving looked at the issue of total energy intake, protein, fat and carbohydrates in
terms of overall daily requirements for mixed sports athletes, I want to look a bit at
how to put things together. Again keep in mind that the focus here is on the
athlete's day to day nutrition since that will have, by far, the largest impact on their overall
ability to train, adapt, and compete effectively.
Many books on nutrition (and this is especially true for diet books) are filled with recipes for
the readers to use without having to put much thought to it. As well, perhaps one of the
most common questions I get is for meal plans. And while I will provide some very rough
sample meal plans at the end of this book, I don't generally like to give them.
While providing meal plans is convenient, my experience is that it fails to teach the athlete
how to set up their own diet and food plan going forwards. What happens when they
travel, if a specific food on the plan isn't available to them? What I find is that athletes who
have become over-reliant on pre-made food plans lose the ability to fend for themselves.
My way, learning to put your own meals together, is more of a pain in the butt in the shortterm but pays bigger dividends in the long-term.
In a more practical sense, the reality is that most individuals eat the same basic foods day-in,
day-out without a tremendous amount of variety. Breakfast is usually identical every day,
lunch may rotate between a few standard meals and dinner is often the most variable meal.
But even there most people tend to rotate through a few stock meals on a regular basis.

The Exchange System


Perhaps the easiest way to set up meal plans is to use something akin to the food exchange
system. Essentially, foods are divided into distinct categories (e.g. protein, carbohydrates,
fats) with foods within each category being essentially equivalent to one another in terms of
caloric value and actual macronutrient content. So two foods from the carbohydrate
exchange list will have roughly the same number of carbs. By using the exchange system, a
series of effectively modular meals can be designed and specific foods can be swapped in
and out as needed.

33

I'd note that for individuals who want more accuracy or detail than the exchange system
can provide, there are any number of tools that can be used to help track daily food intake.
Online, for example, a comprehensive database of foods, including many restaurants can be
found at:
http: //www.calorieking. com
You can simply enter the food and the amount consumed to find out the nutritional
information. Along with that, there is also commercial tracking software to track daily food
intake and overall nutrient intake. A free tracking system is also available at
http://www.fitday.com
As a final option, some individuals simply set up their own spreadsheet to work out the
calorie and macronutrient content of their meals and then track it that way.
One thing I would mention in terms of meal planning is this: most people, by and large are
awful at eyeballing and/or estimating how much food they are actually eating. In general,
most tend to under-estimate their true caloric intake; in some cases, athletes will overestimate how much they are eating (this is often true for the chronically underweight).
There are a number of reasons that people are bad at estimating their true caloric intake that
I'm not going to get into here. But knowing that this is a problem, I strongly suggest that
athletes new to their own meal planning spend a minimum of three days (including one
weekend) actually measuring their food.; 1-2 weeks would be better This can be especially
important for smaller athletes or those who have to watch their body weight; even small
mis-measurements in actual food/caloric intake can add up fast and cause issues with body
composition or body weight.
That means getting a decent food scale (digital scales are cheap) and using measuring cups
and spoons and correlating those actual real world measures with what you think you are
eating or the servings listed on the box. Yes, this is a huge pain in the ass but usually only
has to be done for a few weeks for people to become much more aware of how much food
they are actually eating.
This also facilitates going out to eat since, once you have a decent idea of how much 4 oz of
protein or a cup of rice/pasta is, you can do a decent enough job of estimating what a meal
eating out might be. I'll also provide some quick and dirty eyeball methods later in this
chapter to help out.
For all of the exchange lists, the foods on that list can effectively be mixed and matched
within the 'rules' I've provided in earlier chapters (e.g. try to eat a mix of high-quality
proteins).
I've provided exchange lists for protein, fats and carbohydrates over the next several pages
along with some comments and notes regarding their implementation.

34

Table 1: Protein Exchanges


All protein exchanges have roughly the same amount of protein per serving, the bigger
difference is in the fat content (and carbs in the case of dairy).
Food
Beef
Chicken
Tuna in water
Tuna in oil
Lunch meat
Milk
Cheese
Yogurt
Whole egg
Egg white
Protein powder

Serving
1 oz (28 grams)
1 oz (28 grams)
1 oz (28 grams)
1 oz (28 grams)
1 slice (1 oz/28g)
8oz (240ml)
1 oz (28 grams)
1/2 cup (120 grams)
1 large
2
1 oz (28 grams)

Protein (g)
6
7
7
8.3
5
8
9
6.5
6
7
23-25

Carbs (g)
Trace
Trace
Trace
Trace
1
12
2
9
Trace
Trace
5-6

Fat(g)
See notes
See notes
Trace
2.5
See notes
See notes
See notes
See notes
5
Trace
Trace

Notes:
The fat content on many foods can vary drastically and reading labels is a must. Very lean
beef may contain only 4 grams of fat per 120 gram (4 oz) serving while very fatty beef can
contain massively more than this. Skinless chicken breast is nearly fat free, chicken with
skin is not. Dairy foods can vary significantly as well from nearly zero fat (fat free milk, fat
free cheese, fat free yogurts) to very high (whole milk, cheese, etc).
I generally recommend that folks choose lower or non-fat sources of protein (if available)
and add other fats (fish oils, olive oil) to hit their fat targets but this isn't always required.
Higher fat protein sources can be used as long as the fat content is accounted for. If you
choose a low or non-fat protein source, you will need to add fat (see fat substitutions) to
your meal to hit your targets. If you choose a fattier cut, you may not need to add any extra
dietary fat.

Table 2: Fat Exchanges


All pure fats have essentially the identical composition. Nut butters are an exception to
this.
Food
All oils
Nut butters
Butter
Full fat mayo
Low fat mayo

Serving
1 tbsp (15
1 tbsp (16
1 tbsp (14
1 tbsp (16
1 tbsp (16

ml/14 grams)
grams)
grams)
grams)
grams)

Protein(g)
0
4
0
0
0

Carbs(g)
0
3
0
0
2

Fat(g)
14
8
11.5
12
4

Notes:
I highly recommend that fats be measured carefully. Small mis-measurements in fat intake
can add up to a significant over-estimations of caloric intake. Whereas eyeballing won't
usually get people into so much trouble with protein and carbohydrate foods, mismeasuring fats can cause problems in terms of over-consumption of too many calories.

35

Carbohydrate Exchanges
Since there are a variety of different 'types' of carbohydrates, including starches, fruits and
vegetables, I've made separate comments for each below.

Table 3: Starch Exchanges


The following is a list of some different carbohydrates, all of which have roughly the same
amount of carbs (24 grams) per serving.
Food
Bread
Rice (cooked)
Pasta (cooked)
Baked Potato
Muesli/Kashi
Corn flakes
Oatmeal (cooked)

Serving
2 slices
1/2 cup (97 grams)
3/4 cup (85 grams)
100 g
40 g
28 g (1 cup)
250 grams

Protein(g)
4
2.5
5
2.5
5
2
5

Carbs(g)
24
22
26
21
26
25
24

Fatfe)
2
1
Trace
Trace
3.3
0
2.5

Fruit
A 'serving' of fruit is - 2 0 0 grams which is a medium sized apple, orange or banana, 6-7
strawberries, or - 1 full cup of small berries (use the online resources to determine servings
for other fruits of your choice). All fruit servings contain -25-27 grams of carbohydrate and
I recommend athletes eat from a variety of sources (there is no single best fruit).
One cup ( - 8 oz) of fruit juice is roughly the equivalent although whole fruits tend to be
more filling due to the fiber content and need for chewing. For athletes trying to control
caloric intake, whole fruits would be preferred to juice; for athletes who have trouble
meeting caloric requirements, fruit juice provides a concentrated source of calories that
won't tend to fill them up.

Other Foods: Vegetables, spices and condiments


Unless athletes are eating absolutely massive amounts of vegetables (or are trying to reduce
bodyweight to an absolute minimum), it's generally not worth tracking the caloric content
of their intake; the caloric value simply isn't usually high enough to bother with. There are
a few exceptions to this, the so-called starchy vegetables which includes peas, carrots (in
large amounts), corn and potatoes. Those foods can contribute a significant number of
calories to the daily diet and should be tracked/counted as carbohydrate exchanges.
Most spices and condiments can be used without tracking. This is not always the case for
spreads and sauces. Salad dressings, mayo and other types of spreads often contain a
significant number of calories (and fat) and need to be tracked and/or measured to avoid
gross mis-estimation of true caloric intake.

36

Eyeballing Portions
For athletes who simply do not want to measure their foods with a scale and measuring
cups,/spoons, there are a number of handy estimates that relate certain quantities to
commonly found items. While they aren't as accurate as real measurement, they will at
least get athletes within shooting distance.
I've provided some of the primary ones below and more can be found on the web.
Deck of cards ~= 120 grams meat (-25 grams protein)
Small fist ~= 100 grams carbs (25 grams carbs)
Tennis ball ~=200 grams fruit (25 grams carbs)
Dietary fat: V2 ping pong ball ~= 14 grams (14 grams fat)

Putting it all Together


In general, I tend to advocate putting together a series of effectively modular meals, again
based on the fact that most athletes tend to eat the same things day-in, day-out. While a
touch boring, I find that this approach provides a great deal of flexibility in terms of
modifying total caloric or macronutrient content. Obviously, athletes who are more
interested in making actual 'meals' or dishes will have to look at one of the many sports
oriented cookbooks or what have you.
But in terms of doing this, I recommend putting meals together in the following fashion:
Step 1: Pick your protein source. Since most protein sources contain either carbohydrates
(dairy), fats (most meats) or a combination. This ensures that carbohydrate and fat goals for
the meal won't be overshot by picking the protein food last. I'd also strongly suggest this
for athletes (generally female) who tend to under-consume protein; by picking their protein
source first, they can ensure that they don't 'fill up' on other foods without getting the
protein they need to support training and adaptation.
Step 2: Pick your carbohydrate source next. Most carbs contain trace fat and some protein
so this can affect the final step.
Step 3: Pick your fat source. If needed (e.g. a higher-fat protein source wasn't picked), pure
fats can be used to balance out the meal. Olive oil or dressing/spreads can be added to
sandwiches or salads or what have you to hit fat goals for the meal.
While the above doesn't provide the most exciting approach to eating, I find that the
benefit is ease of modification. On a heavier training day when more carbs are needed, the
carbohydrate quantity can simply be increased (e.g. two cups of pasta instead of one).
When less are needed, foods can be dropped out. Again, it's not exciting but it is functional
and practically useful.

37

Around Workout/Competition Nutrition

fter the overall daily diet is in place, the next single most important aspect of
nutrition (e.g. the second tier on on the pyramid) becomes around workout
nutrition. This is an area where research and practice continue to evolve and what
represents the cutting edge now may change dramatically in a few years.
This is also a place where there can be a rather large variety of what is optimal in terms of
timing, amounts and types of foods consumed. Again, this is especially true for mixed sports
athletes were training might range from something like a 30-45 minute technical/tactical
session to an hour of hard conditioning to strength/power work.
Once again, I'll be providing some rather broad guidelines in a lot of places for this reason;
I've attempted to provide some guidelines for how to adjust around workout nutrition for
different situations but some trial and error will be required to find the sweet spot.
Since it's a related topic, I'm also going to address the issue of competition day nutrition. As
you'll see, while much of the same information applies to both training and competition
nutrition, what can be done during competition is often limited by practical considerations.
I'll discuss this further at the end of the chapter.

Goals of Around Workout Nutrition


Early ideas of around workout nutrition tended to focus on either during workout
performance (or hydration) or post-workout recovery (and there primarily for endurance
athletes). As research has mounted, it turns out that properly set up around workout
nutrition can have a number of benefits far beyond those few. I've shown some of them in
Figure 1 on the next page.
As you can see, proper around workout nutrition can have far greater reaching effects than
just hydration or post-workout glycogen (carbohydrate stored within the muscle) synthesis.
This is why I consider it so important to get right after setting up the basic daily diet.

39

Figure 1: Goals of Around Workout Nutrition

Improve training quality:


intensity and/or volume

Decrease fatigue
during workout

\
\

I
1

Support immune system


function

Improve recovery
between workouts

Reduce muscle damage

Support optimal adaptations


to training

Phases of Around Workout Nutrition


I divide around workout nutrition into four distinct phases. Much of this is a fairly
artificial distinction made primarily for convenience and ease of discussion. However, as
you'll see each phase of around workout nutrition has distinct (albeit overlapping) goals and
effects. As you'll also see, there is overlap between the time points of each phase. I've listed
the four phases of around workout nutrition along with their timing relative to training in
Table 1 below.

Table 1: Four Phases of Around Workout Nutrition and Timing


Phase
Phase
Phase
Phase

I: 1-4 hours before training


II: 0-30 minutes before training (includes warm-up)
III: During Workout
IV: Immediate after training to - 1 - 2 hours after training

As I mentioned above, each phase has distinct effects on the different processes shown in
Figure 1 above although there is overlap. As well, there is clearly some overlap in the timing
of each phase (e.g. Phase II and Phase III overlap heavily).
At the end of the chapter I'll show how the four phases fit together around both a one
workout and two workout training day. First I want to look at each phase in detail in terms
of timing, goals, optimal nutrient intake (type and amount), etc.

40

Phase I: Pre-Workout Nutrition


As shown in Table 1 above, the pre-workout nutrition phase falls anywhere from 1-4 hours
before a workout and, realistically, can be considered part of the athlete's overall daily diet
(with a few issues mentioned below).
The primary goals relative to the upcoming workout are to top off muscle and liver glycogen
(important to limit fatigue during high-intensity training); as well, maintaining adequate
nutrient intake is part of the ongoing process of adapting to training.
As noted, the timing of this meal can range anywhere from 1-4 hours before a workout and
the proximity of the meal to the workout has some implications for how large the meal
should be and what types of foods it should contain.
Generally speaking, as the pre-workout meal gets closer to training, it should decrease in size
in terms of overall food intake. As well, avoiding hard to digest foods (including large
amounts of fiber and/or dietary fat) is generally a good idea the closer to training this meal
is eaten unless you want to see it a second time. Of course the size of the athlete will impact
on this with larger athletes eating proportionally more than smaller; this primarily reflects
differences in overall daily nutritional intake.
I'd note that athletes differ massively in how well or not they tolerate training with food in
their stomach. Some can train perfectly well with a big meal sitting in their stomach and
others can't have anything significant for hours before training. Some experimentation will
be required.
The type of training being done will impact this as well. High-intensity work involving a lot
of acidosis (e.g. anaerobic conditioning) tends to cause bigger issues with stomach upset
than, say, lower repetition strength/power training in the weight room.
Similarly, the intensity of the workout has an impact: lower intensity training (technical,
low-intensity endurance) needs less fuel than higher intensity work. The unique dynamics
of mixed sports training means that athletes may very well have different optimal preworkout meals for different training days.
In general, I don't like to see the pre-workout meal skipped although there are a few specific
exceptions to this. Athletes who have to make weight often have to skip this meal so that
they can actually make their weight class. While this rarely applies to team sports, some
other mixed sports athletes (MMA/boxers/rowers) have to worry about such things. In that
case, Phase II (which should start immediately after weigh-in) becomes that much more
critical.
Another situation is one where an athlete deliberately wants to perform fasted endurance
type training. This is often done by pure endurance athletes but mixed sports athletes often
do this to aid with body composition control. As noted, the type of training is relevant
here, a large pre-workout meal may not be necessary or desired for pure technical/tactical
training.
Finally some athletes train first thing in the morning shortly after waking up and there may
be insufficient time to consume a full meal a full 1-4 hours prior to training. Assuming that

41

the workout can be done without topping off liver and muscle glycogen, the benefits of
eating the meal may be outweighed by getting up early and cutting into sleep. In that case,
the athlete should skip Phase 1 and move straight to Phase II of around workout nutrition.

Phase II: Immediate Pre-Workout Nutrition


The second phase of around workout nutrition is the immediate pre-workout meal which, as
shown in Table 1 occurs anywhere from 30 minutes before to the start of workout. For
reasons I'll discuss below this can actually overlap with an athletes warm-ups.
The goal of Phase II are to ensure optimal blood glucose levels (low blood glucose can cause
fatigue) along with adequate hydration. As well, some research suggests that pre-workout
protein/amino acids may promote growth/adaptation after training better than postworkout protein. This is especially important for mixed sports athletes seeking gains in
muscle mass.
One potential issue with the immediate pre-workout meal has to do with rebound blood
sugar issues; some athletes find that consuming carbs (especially fast acting carbohydrates)
can cause blood sugar to crash, causing fatigue. This is very individual and can be avoided
by either choosing different carbohydrates or waiting until the start of warm-ups to begin
consuming the nutrients. Exercise inhibits the release of insulin and waiting until the
warm-up has started to start this phase of around workout nutrition will limit the possibility
of a negative blood sugar response.
Generally speaking, liquids are a better choice for this meal than solids although easily
digestible foods such as protein/sports bars can be appropriate. I'd note that consuming
solid does nothing to help improve hydration and additional fluid will have to be
consumed. This is another reason I tend to think that fluids are superior in this phase.
Generally speaking, faster digesting carbohydrates such as dextrose, glucose or maltodextrin
are superior to slower digesting carbs to ensure that the carbohydrates get into the system
quickly. Again, this has to be weighed against the potential for a negative blood glucose
response.
If protein is added to this meal, and you'll see below that I suggest small amounts, a rapidly
digesting protein such as whey or soy would be superior to a slower digesting protein such
as casein or milk protein isolate (MPI). Again, this ensure that the amino acids are in the
bloodstream when training starts without risking stomach upset. Fat and fiber should be
limited or avoided in Phase II as they tend to cause problems with stomach upset.
For strength/power workouts, adding 3-5 grams of creatine may be appropriate. I'll discuss
creatine in detail in Chapter 11 on supplements. In Table 2 on the next page, I've listed
appropriate amounts of protein and carbohydrates for two different sized athletes.
This would be mixed in a fairly small amount of fluid (250-500 ml/8-16 oz. with larger
amounts of nutrients requiring more fluid to avoid it being too concentrated) to avoid the
athlete having to pee constantly during practice. This can help contribute to hydration
during training but athletes may have to experiment with fluid amounts.

42

Table 2: Immediate Pre-Workout Recommendations


Nutrient

Amount

60 kg (132 lb) athlete 100kg (225 lb) athlete

Carbohydrate

0.3-0.5 g/kg
(0.14-0.23g/lb)

18-30 grams

30-50 grams

Protein

0.3-0.5 g/kg
(0.14-0.23g/lb)

18-30 grams

30-50 grams

Phase III: During Workout Nutrition


Phase III, is during workout nutrition and encompasses all nutrients consumed during the
workout itself. This phase lasts from the end of warmups to the end of the workout and, as
noted above, can overlap with Phase II.
The goals of during workout nutrition are both to limit fatigue and improve performance
(this goes for competition as well as training); maintaining hydration is also a key aspect.
As well, some evidence suggests that during workout nutrients may improve adaptation
after training (most likely due to maintaining a better hormonal status: raising insulin and
lowering Cortisol).
Traditionally it was thought that during workout nutrition was only important for workouts
lasting more than an hour but more recent work has brought this into question. For reasons
I'm not going to detail here, carbohydrates during even shorter workouts can improve
performance in some people.
Oddly some of this work suggests that it is the presence of glucose in the mouth that is
improving performance; in some studies swishing a carb drink and spitting it out has
improved performance. This may be a useful strategy for athletes trying to cut calories to
the bone (to reduce bodyweight) who need to maintain during workout performance
without consuming excess calories.
And while, traditionally, during workout carbs were thought to only be important for pure
endurance athletes, research has found that during workout nutrition is valuable for mixed
sports and may improve adaptations to strength/power training. For example, studies of
soccer and hockey players find that carbs consumed during training or competition allows
muscle glycogen to be re-synthesized during breaks in play this has been found to allow a
higher speed to be maintained later in the game or training.
My point being that, with the exception of pure technical/tactical workouts (or workouts
deliberately done fasted to increase fat utilization), I think during workout nutrition is
worth pursing for both performance and adaptation benefits.
As noted, Phase III overlaps with the immediate pre-workout phase and athletes who find
that consuming carbs before they start their warm-ups causes blood sugar issues will

43

effectively be combining Phase II (starting during warmups) with Phase III (during the
workout itself).
I'd note in this regards that some athletes can still have problems during some sorts of
training in terms of blood glucose crashing. This is usually when workout with short work
bouts and long rest intervals (e.g. sprint training) are being done. In that case, avoiding
Phase II entirely and consuming only water may be the best course of action.
One issue that comes up is how often to drink during a workout. As it turns out, it sort of
doesn't matter. The speed of fluid absorption in the gut is limited and whether an athlete
consumes their drink all at once and drinks nothing for the next hour or breaks it up into
smaller drinks every 15 minutes doesn't really matter from the standpoint of providing
nutrients or fluid during the workout.
However, it may matter if having a lot of fluid in the gut causes problems. Practically,
especially during training when more control over rest periods are available, I recommend
athletes divide their during workout nutrition into smaller amounts taken through the
workouts (i.e. 250ml/8oz every 15 minutes or so).
In this regards, I'd note that the maximum fluid intake is roughly 11/hour ( - 3 2 oz), the gut
simply can't absorb more than that. Unfortunately, this is rarely sufficient to completely
offset dehydration during a workout, something I'll come back to in Chapter 10. My point
being is trying to consume far more fluid than this is not beneficial and can actually
detrimental. Either it causes stomach upset or, in rare cases, can cause a condition called
hyponatremia. While rare, it does occur and an athlete should never gain weight during a
workout; this would indicate that far too much fluid is being consumed.
In a related vein, there is a limit to how rapidly the gut can absorb carbohydrates and that
limit is roughly 1 g/minute (or about 60 grams of carbs per hour). It is possible to get
slightly more than this with a mixture of carbohydrates (see below) but, generally,
consuming much more than this per hour has no added benefit and can be detrimental by
causing stomach upset or nausea.
In general, while pure endurance athletes engaged in heavy training might need the high
end of this value, mixed sports athletes can generally get by with about half this amount or
30 grams per hour of carbohydrate. For extremely heavy conditioning workouts, a higher
amount of carbohydrate may be needed and, again, the type of workout being performed
may mean that mixed sports athletes have a number of different 'optimal' around workout
solutions.
The inclusion of protein in during-workout n u t r i t i o n is a relatively more r e c e n t
development. Studies show that consuming small amounts of protein (no more than 10-15
grams per hour) can decrease muscle breakdown, may improve certain types of performance
(this is highly debatable) and help to promote beneficial adaptations when training is
finished. To avoid stomach upset, a fast protein such as whey or soy would be preferred to a
slower digesting protein.
Finally, many commercial workout drinks have added sodium/potassium in them although
the amounts are generally very small. Mostly this is to improve the taste of the drink

44

although it will help to offset some electrolyte losses. Athletes who mix their own homebrew drinks can get sufficient sodium and potassium by putting perhaps 1 teaspoon of lite
salt (1/2 sodium chloride and 1/2 potassium chloride) in their drinks
So the total during workout drink would be composed of 30-60 grams of carbohydrates with
10-15 grams of protein in 1 liter (32 oz.) fluid per hour. While there are commercial
carb/protein drinks available such as Accelerade, it's generally just as easy to mix up a homebrew with some type of commercial carbohydrate drink (e.g. Gatorade, Powerade, Lucozade
in Europe) and add unflavored whey or soy protein to it.
Others may find that diluting fruit juice (simply cut it with water to achieve 30-60 grams
carbohydrate per liter of fluid) with some unflavored (or vanilla flavored) protein and a
pinch of lite salt makes a very inexpensive but effective during workout drink.
Finally I should make a comment about gels and protein bars. Similar to immediate preworkout nutrition, while these can provide carbohydrates and protein (and some gels have
caffeine), they do nothing to help with hydration. Athletes who go this route must also
consume sufficient fluids to ensure optimal hydration status.

Phase IV: Post-Workout Nutrition


The final phase of around workout nutrition is post-workout nutrition which consists of any
nutrients taken from immediately after the end of training to perhaps 1-2 hours following a
workout. At some point, the post-workout phase transitions back into the athlete's normal
diet.
This is also the phase where the greatest majority of research has been done. Early research,
focusing primarily on endurance athletes was aimed primarily at restoring muscle glycogen
levels both to recover from the previous workout as well as to prepare for the next one.
As research developed, it was found that adding protein to post-workout carbohydrates had
a number of potential benefits. One of these was improved glycogen re-synthesis although
this only occurred when total carbohydrate intake was inadequate to begin with.
Additional benefits to the combination of post-workout carbs and protein were improved
rates of protein synthesis (critical to overall adaptation to training) as well as an overall
enhancement of recovery for the next training bout.
Finally, since it's impossible to offset fluid losses during training completely as discussed
above in Phase III, post-workout nutrient intake can begin the process of rehydration.
As noted, eventually the post-workout period shifts into the athlete's daily diet and, for the
most part 111 focus only on any nutrients taken fairly immediately after training up to
perhaps 1-2 hours post-workout.
On that topic, there has been a great deal written about the 'window of opportunity' in
terms of how quickly nutrients need to be consumed post-workout; for the most part, it's
really no big deal if something isn't consumed immediately after training or an hour later.

45

The end result will be basically the same. This is especially true if my Phase II and Phase III
guidelines are being followed as there will be nutrients in the bloodstream from those
phases immediately following training.
One issue involved with the timing of post-workout nutrition is the time between workouts.
Athletes training once per day, with a full 24 hours to recover between workouts are less
pressed to get nutrients in than athletes performing twice daily workouts with a short break
(e.g. 4-6 hours) in-between.
In the second case, getting nutrients in quickly and efficiently is far more critical since there
is limited time to try to achieve even partial recovery before the next training session. Table
4 gives recommended amounts of carbohydrates and protein for Phase IV.

Table 4: Post-Workout Recommendations


Nutrient

Amount

60 kg (132 lb) athlete 100kg (225 lb) athlete

18-90 grams
Carbohydrate 0.3-1.5 g/kg
(0.14-.067g/lb)
Protein

0.3-0.5 g/kg
18-30 grams
(0.14-0.23g/lb)

30-150 grams
30-50 grams

As you can see, the post-workout meal tends to have the largest amount of variability in
terms of amounts consumed especially in terms of carbohydrate intake. There are a number
of variables that go into the decision of how much post-workout nutrition to consume.
As with the other phases, the type of training done is a primary determinant. Exhaustive,
glycogen-depleting anaerobic work will tend to require far more dietary carbohydrates
following training than lower intensity technical or aerobic conditioning work for example.
Another issue to consider is the goals of an athlete: a male athlete seeking hypertrophy gains
may consume nearer the high end of the recommendations for both carbs and protein
(especially following weight room work) while an athlete trying to avoid weight or muscle
gain may skew towards the lower end of the recommendations.
Regarding fat loss, while many athletes tend to skip proper around workout nutrition when
they are trying to lose weight/fat, I do recommend that something be consumed following
workout although the lower ends of the recommendations may be used. I'll talk about this
more in Chapter 12 on changing body composition.
While I recommend primarily liquids in the immediate-pre and during-workout phases,
post-workout is one place where whole foods can be consumed. This is another place where
athletes vary massively; some are not hungry after hard training and liquids may be the
only way to get in some nutrients. Others have no problem eating a solid meal immediately
after workout and this works fine. I'll only mention that athletes who choose whole food or
solids post-workout will need to ensure sufficient fluid intake as well.
I should note that there is often a lot of nonsense regarding post-workout nutrient written,
usually with the claim that protein is all that is needed. Certainly, compared to

46

carbohydrate alone, protein alone is a superior choice; however, the combination of protein
and carbohydrate is superior to either nutrient consumed separately for a number of reasons
I'm not going to discuss. Simply, athletes should consume a combination of the two
nutrients in Phase IV if their goal is optimal recovery, adaptation, etc.
In terms of protein type, while supplement companies have pushed fast-acting whey
protein, there is actually considerable evidence that a slow protein (such as casein, milk
protein isolate or simply whole food) or a mixed fast/slow protein (such as milk protein
isolate) may be superior. In the big scheme of things, that is within the context of the day's
overall diet, it may not make much of a difference and athletes should ultimately choose
what they will most readily consume on a regular basis.
In terms of carbohydrates, concentrated carbohydrates sources such as dextrose,
maltodextrin, starch (in whole foods such as potatoes or bread) and sucrose have all been
used and seem to be roughly equal in terms of how they impact on glycogen re-synthesis.
I would note that consuming too much fructose post-workout can cause stomach upset and
is poor for glycogen synthesis; the inclusion of some fructose (via fruit or otherwise) helps
to refill liver glycogen; it should not make up more than perhaps 10-20% of the total
carbohydrate intake or perhaps 15-30 grams (roughly 2-4 pieces of fruit worth depending on
the athletes size and desired carbohydrate intake).
Dietary fat, by and large, appears to have no effect one way or the other and can be
consumed post-workout if desired. The same goes for fiber and athletes who want to
consume a solid meal post-workout can do so without fear of hampering their recovery.
I would mention again that athletes involved in heavy twice daily training with a shortbreak need to be relatively more attentive to issues such as immediacy of intake and speed
of digestion; with only 4-6 hours to get in one or more meals, picking nutrients that digest
quickly post-workout may be the only way to have a chance of wanting to eat 2 hours later
to get ready for the second workout.
Finally, creatine may be added to the post-workout meal if it is being used. Exercise appears
to increase creatine uptake and putting creatine in the post-workout meal should ensure
that it is absorbed with high efficiency.
While I'll talk more about hydration in the next chapter, I would note that water alone is
actually not ideal for post-workout hydration. Studies clearly show that liquids containing
some sodium and potassium are superior in this regard. For athletes who only want water
following training, a teaspoon of lite salt could be added to increase the body's retention of
the fluid.
In terms of fluid amounts, the old rule of thumb was that 1 liter (32 oz) of fluid was needed
to replace every pound of body weight lost during training but this turns out to be incorrect;
rather, 1.5 1 (48 oz) is needed for every pound lost. This is discussed in more detail in
Chapter 10.
As a final comment, there has been great interest and quite a bit of research suggesting that
one of the easiest and potentially best post-workout foods may be good old fashioned milk.

47

It provides a mixture of slow and fast proteins, carbohydrates, fluid; additionally, the
sodium/potassium content helps with rehydration and fluid retention. Milk is generally
cheap and easily obtainable (important for athletes traveling or who can't prepare postworkout meals easily) and worth considering.
The drawbacks of milk post-workout are that it can take a very large amount to achieve the
amounts of protein and carbohydrate suggested in Table 4 above, especially for larger
athletes. A compromise is to use milk as a base for adding other nutrients (e.g. add protein
powder, fruit or what have you to milk to make a post-workout shake).
As well, some athletes cannot tolerate lactose (milk sugar) or have true dairy allergies.
Lactose intolerant athletes should either pick a different post-workout strategy or look into
lactose removed milk or commercially available lactase supplements (pills taken with dairy
foods to help with digestion).

Concerns Regarding Around Workout Nutrition


Athletes and specialty magazines often express some fairly odd concerns about around
workout nutrition often suggesting that it be eliminated or avoided. Effectively all of these
concerns are completely unwarranted.
For example there is often a concern about fat gain or negative body composition effects of
consuming large amounts of nutrients around training but, if anything, the exact opposite
holds true. Nutrients consumed around training are either used directly for fuel or quite
literally 'sucked up' into the muscle after training. The odds of fat storage during that time
period are basically zero.
Another odd concern has to do with hormonal effects. Claims that carbs around training
can impact negatively on testosterone or growth hormone (GH) are often made but, again,
are unwarranted. Even if there were a negative effect, the fact is that the small hormonal
responses to training are fairly unimportant to the overall training process.
Far more important is for an athlete to be able to train effectively and recover and adapt to
that training. Ensuring sufficient caloric and carbohydrate intake following training is part
and parcel of that.
Simply put, athletes seeking maximal performance in training and competition, along with
optimal adaptations to training, need to look towards optimizing their around workout
nutrition to some degree. After getting their basic diet in line, proper around workout
nutrition is probably the second most important factor that will benefit their long-term
progress.

Competition Nutrition
To round out this chapter I want to talk a little bit about nutrition around competitions.
For the most part, none of the recommendations I made above should undergo any major
changes for competition versus training. Probably the main point that I would make is that

48

athletes should never, under any circumstances, try anything new dietarily on the day of a
competition.
Anything that an athlete wants to try in terms of immediate pre- or during-workout
nutrition must be tested during training. That way, at worst a single workout may be
negatively impacted. Athletes should try different combinations of fluids, nutrients, etc.
around training (especially workouts that are similar to what they will face in competition)
to determine what provides optimal results in terms of performance, recovery, etc.
Beyond that one rule, very little changes on the day of a competition. Perhaps the biggest
difference is one of the dynamics of competition vs. training. In training, a coach can
schedule rest intervals during the workout to allow the athletes to drink or consume
nutrients at appropriate intervals; this level of flexibility is not always available during
competition.
Rather, under competition conditions, athletes often have to get what they can when they
can get it. If that means consuming a relatively larger amount of a carbohydrate drink
during short-breaks in the action rather than spacing it out, so be it. If the only real time to
consume nutrients is during half-time (if the sport has one), so be it.
Athletes simply have to work with the cards that they have been dealt and try, to the best of
their ability, to achieve optimal intakes. Simply with the understanding that what is ideal
and what is realistic may be at odds with one another.
For this reason, in that athletes often can't consume sufficient nutrients or fluid during
competition, the post-workout period often becomes more critical to long-term performance
(e.g. getting ready for training the Monday following a Saturday competition). Simply
because that's the only time when nutrients can be consumed in sufficient amounts.
Which brings me in a roundabout way to the topic of alcohol. In the strictest sense, alcohol
following training is not an ideal thing to consume for a variety of reasons. But here again
we run into what is ideal and what athletes are going to do. And the reality is that mixed
sport athletes from the college level on up will probably have alcohol present following a
competition. Whether it's to celebrate or to commiserate, it will be present. Telling them to
abstain does no good.
My only suggestion in this vein is to try to find balance. If you're going to drink alcohol
following competition, at least try to some carbohydrates and protein with the alcohol.
And get some non-alcoholic fluid in there to start the process of rehydration (alcohol is one
of the few fluids that doesn't contribute to hydration status).

Putting it All Together


In figure 2 on the next page, I've shown how the different phases of around workout
nutrition would be scheduled for two different training days. The first is a standard training
day with only a single workout planned, lasting 2 hours from 12 to 2pm. The second shows
a day with two workouts, the first from 11 am-lpm and the second 5 hours later from 68pm.

49

The day with a single workout should be fairly self-explanatory. One or two whole food
meals would be consumed in the morning including the one during Phase I, around
workout nutrition goes around training and the remainder of the day would be the athlete's
normal meals.
In the case of a two workout training day, the first part of the day is fairly normal but
concessions have to be made between the two workouts. In this case a second Phase I which
effectively doubles as normal meal has to be squeezed in between Phase IV of the first
workout and Phase II before the second workout. Depending on the athlete's tolerance for
whole foods, that meal might have to be liquid (or at least something easily digestible like a
protein bar) to avoid stomach upset.
On such a training day, a relatively large amount of the day's overall nutrient intake may be
coming around workouts since there simply isn't time for many whole food meals to be
consumed. An athlete training three times daily might only really get one whole food meal
at dinner time.

Figure 2: Schematic of Phases of Around Workout Nutrition


One Workout Per Day
I

II

IV

III
Training

6 a m 7am 8 a m 9 a m 1 0 a m 11am 1 2 p m 1pm 2 p m 3 p m 4 p m 5 p m 6pm 7 p m 8 p m 9 p m

Two Workouts Per Day


1

II

III
Training

IV

II

III
Training

IV

6am 7am 8 a m 9 a m 1 0 a m 11am 1 2 p m 1pm 2 p m 3 p m 4 p m 5 p m 6 p m 7 p m 8 p m

50

9pm

Hydration and Cramping

iven that even small amounts of dehydration can cripple performance, the topic of
hydration (and the related topic of cramping) is arguably one of the most
important in the book. Unfortunately, it's also the one where I can give the least
specific guidelines for reasons that you'll understand in a second.

I'd gather that most athletes know the importance of hydration, certainly enough has been
written about it over the years. Whether or not dehydration is the cause of all modern
ailments (as is often claimed) is debatable but certainly even slight amounts of dehydration
can cause performance problems.
At the extremes of dehydration, even worse things, ranging from heat stroke to death, can
occur. As well, while the causes are far more complex, issues with cramping can be related
to dehydration.
And the simple fact is that studies clearly show that many athletes train and compete with
at least some degree of chronic dehydration. Thus, ensuring sufficient hydration both
during and between training and competitions is critical.

Hydration Myths
There are a great number of hydration myths that I'd like to dismiss off the bat. Perhaps the
most commonly stated one is the old saw that everyone needs 8 glasses per day of water.
This value appears to be have been pulled out of thin air decades ago and was simply
repeated enough until it became true. But it's not.
Others have attempted to put fluid requirements in terms of drinking so many ml or oz of
fluid per kg or pound of body weight. While possibly better than the 8 glasses/day value,
this approach still can't possibly be accurate for all people for reasons you'll understand
shortly.
A pervasive myth is that only plain water contributes to hydration but this, too, is false. As
I mentioned in Chapter 9 in the section on post-workout nutrition, plain water is actually
quite poor for rehydration. Rather, fluids containing at least some sodium and potassium
are retained by the body far better than water alone.

51

With the exception of alcohol, which has a net dehydrating effect, all fluid intake counts
towards daily hydration. This includes soda, milk, and even caffeinated beverages. Yes,
caffeine has a slight dehydrating effect but the amount of fluid consumed in caffeinated
beverages more than offsets this. The body also gets a good deal of it's fluid from the foods
that you eat. High water content foods such as fruits provide a significant amount of water
to the body. Basically, with the exception of alcohol, all fluids count towards your daily
requirements.

Gauging Fluid Requirements


One idea about hydration that does turn out to be correct is this: thirst is an imprecise
mechanism for gauging hydration status. By the time an athlete is thirsty, they are already
slightly dehydrated. So thirst cannot be relied upon.
So what are actual fluid requirements for athletes? This is where we run into the problem
and where I can't give you anything more than rough guidelines. The problem is that
athletes can vary 10-fold in how much fluid they need on a day to day basis; this is
especially true when you start looking at fluid losses during training.
If we looked at water loss in two athletes doing the exact same training, we might see
bodyweight losses of 1kg (2.2 pounds) in one athlete and nearly 10kg (22 pounds) in
another.
The same turns out to hold for sodium losses. One athlete might lose a couple of grams of
sodium during training while another loses 20 grams; all depending on how much sodium
is being lost in their sweat and how much they are sweating in total.
All of which makes giving any sort of absolute fluid recommendations meaningless. The
amount that might be ideal for one athlete could underestimate one and overestimate
another by half or more.
One crude gauge that athletes can use to track their hydration is the color of their urine. A
well hydrated athlete should have, on average, 5 clear urinations per day with at least 2 of
those coming after training. The darker the urine, the more dehydrated the athlete.
In terms of determining actual fluid losses during training, a more accurate method is to
measure body weight before and after workout. As i mentioned earlier in this book, for every
1 kg (2.2 lb.) of body weight lost, 1.5 liters (48 oz) of fluid will be required to replace that.
For any given athlete and any given workout, this value should only need to be measured
once or twice. While the amount of fluid needed post-workout may vary massively between
athletes, once an athlete knows how much fluid they are losing, they will know how much
they need to drink after training to replace it under a given set of conditions.
Unfortunately, at this point I know of no easy way to measure or even estimate sodium
losses during training. One (admittedly gross) method might be to taste your sweat; athletes
whose sweat is particularly salty are probably losing more sodium than those who's isn't.
Athletes who are prone to cramping (discussed next) are probably the ones who need to
consume relatively more sodium (and possibly other minerals) as well.

52

Cramping
C r a m p i n g during t r a i n i n g and c o m p e t i t i o n is a b a n e of m i x e d sports athletes.
Unfortunately, curing it is not as easy as most coaches or trainers would like is to be. While
cramping has often been simplistically blamed on one mineral (usually potassium), it turns
out to be much more complicated than that.
Cramping is related to a balance (or rather imbalance) of sodium, potassium, magnesium,
calcium and others. As well, some athletes simply seem more prone to cramping then
others.
Dehydration can be one cause of cramping, mind you, and following the guidelines for
hydration above is a good first step to see if cramps can be avoided. Beyond that, the causes
of cramping are terribly individual and the solution that works for one athlete may have no
impact on another. Athletes who are prone to cramping will have to experiment with
different amounts of various minerals to see what works best for them.
In this vein, I would note that athletes, for the most part, needn't worry about things like
salt and such in their diet. While the suggestion to lower salt intake in the general public
(from a health standpoint) is probably a good one, this is another place where athletes,
unless their intake is absurd, needn't be terribly concerned.
I do recommend the use of lite salt (1/2 sodium chloride and 1/2 potassium chloride) as
both minerals are needed in the diet but it can and should be used liberally on food
(especially following heavy training and even more-so during training in the heat) to
ensure adequate mineral intake. Many athletes may also need to supplement calcium and
magnesium on a daily basis as discussed in the next chapter.
Creatine intake often comes up in the same breath as cramping and certainly some early
empirical ideas held that creatine could cause cramping. Research has failed to bear this out
and more likely the issue was that creatine was increasing fluid requirements; rather than
the creatine being directly responsible, it was overall dehydration that was causing cramps.
That said, athletes who cannot control cramps during training may wish to drop creatine
supplements to see if that has an effect on their propensity to cramp.
Finally I should mention stimulants which I'll talk about in the section on supplements.
Athletes use stimulants before hard training and competitions and the simple fact is that
this is not going to change. However, please try to show some sense about it; more isn't
better and excessive stimulants (ephedrine is notorious in this regards) can cause cramps
during training. Any benefit from the stimulant is going to be lost if you cramp a hamstring
and can't finish the workout. When you use stimulants, please use them semi-intelligently.

53

Supplements

f there is a single area of sports nutrition that is constantly changing (in terms of the
products being marketed) and which athletes are always interested in it's dietary
supplements. As I mentioned in Chapter 2 of this book, I consider supplementation to
be the third tier of the pyramid (after overall daily nutrition and around workout nutrition)
in terms of what athletes should concern themselves with. Even there, I divide dietary
supplements into several categories and want to present another pyramid for dietary
supplements, shown in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1: Hierarchy of Supplements

Just as with the overall nutritional pyramid, I put supplements into three categories in terms
of their relative importance. The first is simply general supplements, either acting as
nutritional insurance or essential nutrients (such as fish oils) that almost all mixed sports
athletes can benefit from. Once those have been taken care of consistently, supplements

55

that directly impact on performance and which have good research backing should be
considered. Once that tier has been taken care of, various supplements which I term
esoterica (this category is always changing) can be considered.
The tip of this pyramid should only be considered by athletes who have all aspects of both
their overall diet, around workout nutrition and other supplements taken care of. Simply,
esoteric products can, at best, provide the last tiny percentage point for performance and
recovery. Worrying about that when the majority aspects of diet and supplementation have
not been taken care of consistently is pointless.

General Use Supplements


As noted above, general use supplements are those products that basically all athletes can
not only benefit from but probably should at least consider. Unless they are correcting a
frank deficiency, general use supplements don't generally generate vast noticeable
improvements in performance per se; rather they simply support overall health and daily
nutritional requirements.
Many of the nutrients discussed below are simply those that are commonly deficient among
athletes, others (e.g. vitamin D, fish oil) are usually deficient in just about everyone.
Generally, these supplements should be taken with meals and doses can be split morning
and evening and taken with meals.

Multi vitamin/Mineral
As I mentioned in a previous chapter, there are both reasons to believe that athletes need
increased amounts of vitamins/minerals due to their heavy training as well as that they get
more due to increased nutrient intake. I consider a basic one per day multi-vitamin/mineral
a cheap nutritional insurance. It won't hurt and may correct and/or prevent any minor
deficiencies that might occur otherwise.
For the most part, I see little need to purchase super expensive formulations, athletes who
are obsessed with such can buy cheaper products and simply take two per day split morning
and evening with meals.
I would note that men, especially those who eat a lot of red meat, may want to find a
product that does not contain iron. Women, due to their propensity to develop anemia
(due to both dietary choices and monthly blood loss) should choose a product containing
iron.
As a final note, under no circumstances should athletes assume that they can ignore
important aspects of their overall diet because their multi- will 'cover it'.

Protein Powders
As discussed in a previous chapter, protein powders have been staple of athletic nutrition for
decades and exist somewhere between food and a supplement. While obtaining all but the
highest intakes of protein can generally be done with nothing more than food, protein

56

powders can provide convenience and flexibility for athletes having problems meeting their
protein needs. They can be especially valuable when athletes travel and may have their
normal food patterns disrupted. Specific types of protein powder are discussed in Chapter 4.
For the most part, buying protein powders commercially is a losing proposition, you will
pay twice as much for half the product and I recommend that athletes find reliable online
suppliers to purchase protein powder in bulk. I've provided a few online resources at the
end of this chapter that I trust to provide quality product at a good price.

Fish Oils/Essential Fatty Acids


If there is a single nutrient that is almost impossible to achieve adequate amounts of from
the modern diet (outside of the handful of people who eat a lot of fatty fish), it's the w-3
fish oils. In a very real sense, fish oils 'do everything' and impact on not only overall health
but help to control inflammation, promote fat oxidation, inhibit fat storage and a host of
others. It's a list of benefits that seems almost too good to be true but the research is there.
Due to their general unavailability in the food supply, supplementation is almost necessary
and both pills (containing varying amounts of the active EPA/DHA) and liquids are
available. Both are acceptable and some people simply prefer the liquids (which can be used
on salads or in blender drinks) to pills (which often cause burps).
Years ago, flaxseed oil was suggested as a source of the essential fatty acids as it contains the
parent fatty acid that can be converted into EPA/DHA. However, that conversion is
exceedingly inefficient in most people (vegetarians appear to be an exception to this for
s o m e r e a s o n ) and I do n o t feel t h a t flax is an acceptable substitute for fish oil
supplementation. I suggest that athletes find an omega-3 fatty acid source that they like
and consume it daily (again, consuming cold water or fatty fish is also a possibility).
While little research has examined athletes, I recommend a total intake of EPA/DHA of 1.83.0 grams per day. A fairly standard capsule of fish oils may contain 120 mg EPA and 180
mg DHA (300 mg total fish oils) so that daily dose would require 6-10 capsules per day
which should be split at least morning and evening (taken with meals).
Higher concentration fish oils are available (at a premium cost) but may be preferred by
athletes who don't like swallowing pills. Again, the goal should be a total EPA/DHA intake
of 1.8-3.0 grams per day regardless of how it is obtained.

Calcium
As I mentioned previously, calcium deficiencies are not unheard of in athletes; this is
especially true if athletes can't or won't consume dairy products. And from an overall
health issue, calcium is critical, perhaps more so for female athletes to ensure good bone
health later in life.
Of course, telling athletes to take something on health grounds is often a losing proposition
so consider that a great deal of research suggests that calcium (and dairy calcium more than
other forms) may improve body composition.
A minimum daily intake of 1000 mg calcium is recommended and I'd note that a single

57

serving of most dairy foods will contain roughly 300 mg. If you consume 3 servings per day
of dairy, you needn't supplement. If your intake is less than this, you may need to consider
a supplement (multi-vitamin/mineral pills never contain sufficient amounts).
Calcium citrate is the preferred form and most calcium products will contain some Vitamin
D as well (see next). Calcium supplementation should be split into two doses consumed
morning and evening with meals as this provides better overall uptake.

Vitamin D
It's not an exaggeration to say that concerns about Vitamin D levels are currently a 'hottopic' in nutrition. And while Vitamin D can be made by the body (through exposure of the
skin to sunlight), it's turning out that Vitamin D deficiencies are absolutely epidemic,
especially for people who work indoors and/or live in cold weather countries where sun
exposure is minimal.
Athletes who are forced to train indoors for weather reasons are potentially at risk as well.
This is true even of athletes who train outdoors part of the year as Vitamin D levels in the
body fall fairly quickly when regular sun exposure is eliminated. It's also been suggested
that maintaining adequate Vitamin D status may be a key to optimal athletic performance
although direct research is lacking at this time.
Unfortunately, determining serum levels of Vitamin D intake to determine optimal levels of
supplementation requires blood work. Athlete with access to testing should strive for levels
of 50 ng/ml or higher. It requires 100 IU's of Vitamin D to raise serum levels by 1 ng/ml and
athletes with access to blood testing can determine their daily dose that way (e.g. to raise
levels from 30ng/ml to 50 ng/ml would require 2000 IU's per day).
Failing that, a daily supplementation level of 2000-4000 IU's should be safe and reasonable
for most (Vitamin D supplements should be taken with a meal that contains dietary fat).
Blood work is still preferred and this is another place where mega-dosing (greater than
perhaps 10,000 IU's per day) can be problematic. More isn't better.
For athletes who don't want to take yet another pill, tanning once or twice weekly provides
another way to obtain Vitamin D. Don't go nuts with it (as excessive UV skin exposure
carries its own health risks) but small amounts of tanning during cold weather or periods
where sun exposure is minimal are not harmful and may help.

Zinc/Magnesium
As mentioned previously, both zinc and magnesium are often deficient in athletes; zinc is
often low in athletes who forego red meat and magnesium losses increase with heavy
training. Both are critical for optimal performance and various processes important to
athletes. As well, many find that the combination of the two taken at bedtime helps with
sleep, a process critical to overall recovery.
On average, a daily supplement of 25 mg of zinc (any form is basically fine) with 400-500
mg of magnesium (citrate is the preferred form) taken 30 minutes before bedtime helps
many go to sleep. While many commercial zinc/magnesium products contain B-6, this
seems to hurt sleep for some people and I suggest buying the ingredients separately if they

58

are taken. I'd note that magnesium oxide, which is the most commonly found form of
magnesium is poorly absorbed, as noted above citrate is the preferred form.

Glutamine
A supplement that is insanely popular with bodybuilders (who think it builds muscle, which
it doesn't), glutamine is an inessential amino acid that is heavily involved in immune
system function. Given the propensity of athletes to suffer problems with their immune
system secondary to heavy training, anything that helps support the immune system is
potentially good.
The research on glutamine and immune system function is actually rather mixed, some
finds that it works while other work has not. It's more likely that branched-chain amino
acid (BCAA) supplementation, discussed in the next section, works as well if not better.
From a purely experiential standpoint, I have found that the consumption of high doses of
glutamine and Vitamin C at the first sign of a cold tends to stop it in its tracks. Two to three
grams of glutamine with 500mg of Vitamin C taken multiple times throughout the day
seems to do the trick.

Anti-Oxidants
The term anti-oxidant actually refers to a massive number of different compounds
(including but not limited to Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin A, Beta-carotene and many
others) that help to scavenge free radicals in the body. Free radicals are formed during
heavy exercise and early ideas held that this was damaging to the body.
And while it is true that excessive free radical production can cause problems, research
actually has found that free radical production is critical in signaling adaptations to
training; blocking free radical formation can actually inhibit proper adaptation to training,
especially endurance training.
Additionally, while research on diets that are high in anti-oxidants (e.g. whole food diets
containing lots of fruits and vegetables) often find health benefits, studies using isolated
anti-oxidants have generally not found the same results. This again points to the
importance of obtaining most nutrients from whole foods rather than isolated pills.
Under most circumstances, I do not advocate the intake of high-dose isolated anti-oxidants
for mixed sports athletes. An exception is the high-dose Vitamin C/glutamine combination
mentioned above when an athlete starts to feel a cold coming on. This is especially true
during primary training phases where excessive anti-oxidant supplementation have the
potential to impair optimal adaptation.
However, during the season, when the goal is primarily to survive competition (which may
be very frequent depending on the sport), supplementation may be useful. Some athletes
report decreased soreness and improved recovery with supplementation. Since the goal inseason is competition and not improving fitness per se, this may be worth considering.
So while avoiding anti-oxidants during the main training period is probably the best course
of action, there may be some merit to supplementation to survive the competition season.

59

Performance Supplements
As opposed to the general use supplements which are meant to support basic health, etc.
performance supplements are those that have (or are purported to have) direct impacts on
performance in training or competition.
In this section, I've listed a handful of products that are supported (to one degree or
another) by at least some type of strong research into their efficacy. This is basically what
separates supplements in this category from the esoterica category discussed last. When
products in the esoterica category have sufficient research behind them, they move into the
performance supplement category; this rarely happens.
With that said, I'd like to look at the handful of current performance oriented supplements
that mixed sports athlete might consider using. These are all products with at least some
amount of supporting research (in healthy human athletes) which make them a worthwhile
consideration. Again, this should only occur after the daily diet and other aspects of around
workout nutrition and general use supplements are being implemented consistently.

Creatine
If there is a single dietary supplement in existence that can be said to work, creatine is
probably it. With several hundred studies supporting it's effectiveness and safety, creatine is
arguably with one the must-have supplements for most athletes (with a few notes made
below).
Creatine has been shown to positively impact all manners of performance measures ranging
from repeat sprint performance to weight room performance and others (if creatine has a
negative impact it is typically on endurance due to a slight weight gain that occurs). Most
of the reported side-effects of creatine have not been borne out by research (see comments
on cramping in the previous chapter) and the biggest danger of creatine use is a slight
weight gain of 1-2 kg due to water retention.
For athletes who need to make weight, this can be a problem and, as noted in the chapter
on hydration and cramping, will increase fluid requirements. Even those athletes who need
to make a certain weight class can use creatine supplementation during their main training
phase and go off at least one month before competition; this will give the body time to get
rid of the extra water and drop the weight.
While a number of 'high-tech' creatines have come and gone, for the most part bulk creatine
monohydrate works as effectively, if not more effectively, than the other types. The only
possible exception is a micronized creatine which can be useful for athletes who have
stomach problems with the standard monohydrate. All of the other variations on creatine
(i.e. creatine ethyl-ester) are no more effective but do cost more.
Traditionally, creatine has been supplemented one of three ways, which I've described
below.
The method used in the studies was to consume 20 grams of creatine in 4X5 g doses per day
for 5 days. While this loads the muscle with creatine the fastest, it can also cause stomach
upset in some people.

60

A less aggressive protocol would be to consume 10 g/day of creatine for 10 days. While this
will take longer to reach saturation levels, most people report less stomach problems.
Finally, creatine can simply be taken at a dose of 3-10 grams per day (larger athletes taking
more) for roughly a month.
The only difference in approaches is the speed of loading. Athletes may simply wish to put
3-5 grams of creatine in their pre- or post-workout shake and be done with it. Maintenance
doses are 5-10 g/day depending on the athlete's size after loading has been finished (larger
athletes need more to maintain muscular levels).
I should mention that some percentage of athletes are creatine non-responders. For various
reasons, they receive no benefits from creatine, no performance improvement and no
weight gain. If an athlete uses creatine in one of the above dosing patterns and no weight
gain occurs, they are a non-responder and can discontinue use.
As noted above, after loading, creatine levels will drop gradually over a period of about a
month if no more is consumed. Athletes who need to drop water weight should discontinue
creatine supplementation at least 30 days prior to the weigh-in of their event.

Beta-alanine
A fairly recent addition to the performance supplement arsenal for mixed sports is betaalanine. Acting as a buffer of acidosis in skeletal muscle, beta-alanine can improve certain
types of performance, especially in activities that rely heavily on anaerobic metabolism (e.g.
maximal efforts lasting roughly 30-60 seconds).
At least one study found that beta-alanine combined with creatine improved weight room
gains; mixed sports athletes looking to increase strength/power or muscle mass may want to
consider beta-alanine.
The biggest drawback to beta-alanine is the required dosing schedule which is 400-800 mg 4
times per day (for a total dose of 1.6-3.2 grams per day). In some people, beta-alanine can
cause a tingling/itching/flushing sensation. This isn't dangerous, simply irritating. And the
dose must be split in this fashion for optimal effects.

Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAA)


The BCAA are leucine, isoleucine and valine, three amino acids that have a branching
chemical structure (hence their name). Many studies have found that BCAA and specifically
leucine is critical for stimulating skeletal muscle growth and protein synthesis and for this
reason BCAA are often suggested for athletes trying to gain muscle mass.
Other aspects of performance have also been measured with early work suggesting that
BCAA might decrease fatigue during high-intensity exercise; an equal amount of work found
no effect. In some situations, BCAA may actually hurt performance through one of several
mechanisms (e.g. ammonia production).
I'd note that BCAA are found to some degree in all high quality proteins with the highest
concentration being found in the dairy proteins: whey and casein. This is yet another

61

reason for athletes to consider adding those specific proteins (either in powder or food form)
to their diet; this will help to ensure that BCAA intake is optimal.
My general feeling is that, if sufficient dietary protein is being consumed (e.g. you're
following the recommendations in this book), additional BCAA is unnecessary and will have
little to no effect. In most studies where BCAA had a benefit, it was on a background of
inadequate protein intake.
In others, BCAA is compared to nothing around workout; while the BCAA would be
expected to generate a superior response, this isn't a fair comparison. Anything is better
than nothing but this isn't to say that whole proteins, as recommended in Chapter 9
wouldn't be superior still.
As noted above, BCAA may protect immune system and athletes involved in very heavy
training might consider extra. BCAA are fairly expensive, with daily doses running from 1020 grams per day or higher and the commercial products are often bitter tasting. I would
consider BCAA supplementation as something for athletes to use only when everything else
in their diet was taken care of.

Joint Supplements
Depending on the specifics of their sport, mixed sports athletes often undergo a tremendous
amount of joint pounding, either as a function of running around the playing field or due
to other athletes slamming into them (e.g. football, mixed martial arts). While keeping
joints healthy isn't strictly a performance issue, clearly an injured athlete won't be
performing well, if they can perform at all.
A number of supplements are potentially beneficial for overall joint health (and or to deal
with certain types of injuries). The most common cocktail is chondroitin sulfate and
glucosamine sulfate, both of which provide the building blocks for connective tissues and
have been shown to help heal certain types of joint injuries (especially arthritis). MSM
(methylsulfonylmethane) may also have some benefit.
One problem with these supplements is that they often take 4-6 weeks to start working. In
that vein, people who report no benefit after 4-6 weeks of proper dosing don't ever seem to
get a benefit. Put differently, if the supplements haven't worked after 4-6 weeks, they aren't
going to start working and you can stop taking them. Dosing for glucosamine and
chondroitin are in the range of 1.5 grams per day of each, MSM is often added in amount of
1.5 grams per day as well.
Additionally, papain and bromelain, the enzymes found in raw pineapple have been shown
to have beneficial effects, probably by controlling inflammation. I'd mention fish oils here
again as they can help control inflammation,; this helps to keep connective tissues healthy
in the long run. This is yet another reason to ensure adequate fish oil intake on a daily
basis.

Pre-workout Stimulants
Stimulants of varying sorts have been popular with athletes for decades and for good reason,
they work. Stimulants before training or competition can improve performance in a variety

62

of parameters important to athletes. These range from direct performance improvements


(e.g. increased strength or power output) to glycogen sparing due to increased fatty acid use
to many others.
I would note that a potential drawback, and this is especially true of excessive stimulant use,
is cramping. As well, under the wrong conditions (usually dehydration plus heat and
humidity plus intensive training), there have been deaths associated with excessive
stimulant use. If there's a lesson to be learned here it's that more is not better.
The old standby as a pre-workout stimulant is simply caffeine, perhaps the most used
compound on the planet. Doses of 3-5 mg/kg (6.6-1 lmg/lb) (so 180-300 mg for a 60kg/132
pound athlete) taken 30-60 minutes prior to training or competition can improve certain
types of performance, and certainly those important to mixed sports.
Caffeine hits peak levels in 60-90 minutes and lasts several hours so, unless training is
exceedingly long, a single dose is usually sufficient; you won't run out. Here again, even
ignoring the cramping issue, more is not better and very high doses of caffeine, especially
on an empty stomach can cause stomach upset.
I would mention that, in theory, stopping caffeine for several days prior to an important
competition will make it work more effectively; in practice, individuals used to using
caffeine on a day to day basis won't ever do this due to negative effects such as headaches
and performance decrease. While this is a neat idea in premise, it's almost impossible to
accomplish in practice.
There are numerous other stimulant type products, with perhaps ephedrine the most well
known, available to athletes and companies continue to look for pre-workout boosters.
Many show up on the banned list (caffeine is not banned since it is so universally used) and,
as noted above, excessive stimulant use can cause problems with cramping.
Before trying any stimulant product, an athlete must check to see if its banned and test it
during training to see if there are any negative effects. As noted previously, athletes must
never try anything new on game-day.
For the most part, I recommend athletes simply stick with good old caffeine. For
standardization I prefer tablets (usually available in 100-200 mg doses) as the caffeine
content of coffees can vary widely and the amount that needs to be consumed to hit the 3-5
mg/kg dose above usually means excessive fluid intake which causes problems with having
to pee all the time.

Esoterica
Pretty much everything else in the world of supplements falls into this category. Hundreds
of products come out yearly and 99% of them fade away to never be heard of again. While I
remain optimistic that a true new performance boosting compound will come along, the
history of the supplement industry simply doesn't support it.
When you have your daily diet, around workout nutrition and everything else dialed in,
you can worry about the stuff in this category. Just realize that, 6 months from now,

63

anything new will probably be long-forgotten because it never had any chance of working.
As I noted above, occasionally a product that starts out in the esoterica category will have
sufficient research appear to move it into the performance supplement category. While
athletes always tend to think that the newest magic pill will be the one that this will happen
with, the statistics simply don't bear this idea out.
As I mentioned above, easily 99% of the products in this category disappear within 6
months to never be heard from again. Waiting to see if the newest magic bullet actually
pans out is the only thing that makes logical sense.

Buying Supplements
As a final topic for this chapter, I want to make some suggestions for athletes in terms of
how to obtain their supplements. For the most part, buying commercially at health food
supplement stores is a mistake; you will pay double the price for half the product. Rather,
purchasing online is far far cheaper. For athletes outside of the US, however, shipping and
import costs may end up making the cost savings much less.
Even for athletes who have to deal with shipping costs, ordering in bulk can help to get
around this. Generally, shipping costs start high but go up proportionally less as you add
more product. By ordering everything you (and your teammates) need at once, the overall
shipping cost per individual can be reduced significantly.
A related question is how to pick a reliable supplement company. Due to the incredible
profit potential, companies come and go both in terms of who is producing the product and
who is selling it. For that reason, I suggest athletes stick with companies that have been in
business for quite some time. This avoids the risk of getting products that don't meet their
label claims.
An additional issue for athletes who may undergo drug testing is that some products have
recently come up tainted with banned compounds. While it raises prices, some companies
do have their products regularly tested to make sure that they meet WADA standards.
Buying WADA tested products may be a worthwhile investment as athletic careers can be
ruined by dint of taking a contaminated product. Even if the athlete is absolved of guilt, the
spectre of drug use will tend to always hang over their head.
With that said, a few of the companies that I've personally used and trust to provide highquality products at good prices without the risk of not meeting label claim or taint appears
in Table 1 on the next page. This list is not meant to be comprehensive.

64

Table 1: Some Recommended Supplement Retailers


Trueprotein.com (http://www.trueprotein.com)
-An excellent retailer of various bulk protein powders and other supplements
lfast400.com (http://wlfast400.com)
-Sells just about every brand known to man but their own house brand is highquality and usually much less expensive than competing products. Also fast
shipping.
Vitaglo.com (http://www.vitaglo.com)
-Shipping can be slow but has a large selection of products and excellent prices.

65

Changing Body Composition

ody composition refers, as I expect most readers know, to the proportion of both
muscle and fat on the body and athletes have an almost perpetual interest in
changing it to some degree. As a gross generality, male athletes typically want more
muscle and/or less fat and females want less fat (or a lower absolute weight).
There are exceptions in some sports; for example an American football lineman may simply
want to carry a lot of total body mass as his job description is to be an immovable wall. But
in general, athletes are generally trying to optimize body composition by either adding or
maintaining muscle mass and/or reducing body fat (to improve powerrweight ratios or what
have you).
Since the two primary goals of modulating body composition are gaining muscle and losing
fat, I'm going to divide this chapter up into those two simple categories and look at what's
involved and/or required from each standpoints. Since this book is about nutrition, I'm not
going to discuss training for each goal extensively.
As well, while a majority of supplements are touted to either increase gains in muscle mass
or fat loss (and some actually work), my focus will be on proper nutrition. Specific
supplements can be added once proper diet and training have been worked out.
I'd note that, in general, changes in body composition should be done in the early part of
the year during preparatory training. Usually the volume of training is highest here
(facilitating the creation of a caloric deficit for fat loss) and athletes don't have to worry so
much about harming competition or training performance.
Occasionally athletes find themselves in a situation where they have to get a major change
in body composition (usually fat loss) in season but dealing with that is beyond the scope of
this chapter or book.

Gaining Muscle
Whether for appearance or performance reasons, gaining muscle mass is an oft-sought goal
for mixed sports athletes. Sometimes this is beneficial to performance, sometime it's not.
Of course, athletes who have to make a certain weight class (this happens in sports such as
boxing or MMA) may need to avoid excessive muscle mass gains unless they want to move
up a weight class.

67

Clearly an appropriate training program is part and parcel of gaining muscle mass but that
topic is beyond the scope of this book. Information can be found on my website or forums
in terms of setting up an appropriate training program to stimulate gains in functional
muscle mass.
In terms of diet, the first comment I'd make regarding athletes gaining muscle mass is that,
despite various claims to the contrary, both a surplus of calories and building blocks
(protein) are required. Put differently, you can't build muscle out of thin air and wishful
thinking even if athletes sometimes try. A reality of that is that gaining muscle mass at an
optimal rate often leads to some fat gain as well. That can be taken off later.
How much of a surplus should be used depends on a host of factors including the athlete's
training level. Athletes don't like to hear it but the actual rate of muscle mass gains without
drugs is actually quite slow.
While a beginner male athlete may have the potential to gain 8-9 kg ( - 2 0 pounds) or more
of muscle in a year, an advanced athlete may be lucky to gain 2-3 kg (-5-6 pounds) per year.
This means that the total daily caloric surplus needn't be huge, a few hundred calories over
maintenance is usually sufficient.
I would suggest that athletes seeking muscle mass gains use the around workout nutrition
recommendations from Chapter 9 nearer the high end of the values, especially for weight
room workouts aimed at stimulating growth.
Studies clearly show that nutrients consumed around heavy weight room workouts help to
drive muscle growth and I'd suggest that most of the day's surplus of calories and protein be
placed around the hypertrophy oriented training session for this reason.
As noted, the actual rate of muscle mass gains is generally quite slow, a non-beginner male
may be lucky to get 1kg (0.5 lb.) per month and a female athlete half that. A surplus of 300500 ca/day for males and 200-300 for females is probably sufficient.
Calories consumed far in excess of that level won't stimulate further muscle mass gains but
will cause fat gain which will eventually have to be dealt with. Protein intake levels should
be set at the high end of the recommendations in Chapter 4.
As far as supplements for muscle mass gains, while endless products come and go, few
remain. Creatine is one that not only improves weight room performance but may help
with gaining muscle mass. As mentioned in Chapter 10, combining it with beta-alanine
may be useful. BCAA supplements are used by many bodybuilders seeking muscle mass
gains; as noted my feeling is that they have no further benefit if sufficient high-quality
protein is being consumed.
Sadly, most other products aimed at muscle mass gains are either ineffective or banned (in
the case of pro-hormones). Proper training plus a slight caloric surplus and adequate
protein (with the possible addition of creatine and/or beta-alanine) will do most of the work
for athletes who want to gain muscle.

68

Fat Loss
Arguably as important a goal among athletes is fat loss with reasons for seeking it ranging
again from performance to simple aesthetics. And while a great deal of nonsense has been
written about muscle gain, certainly more has been written about fat loss.
Since I can't begin to cover the topic in full here, I'd point athletes to both my website and
other books for more detailed information. A good place to start on the site would be with
my article series Fat Loss for Athletes which deals with specific issues relevant to
performance athletes (as opposed to bodybuilders). Part 1 of the 3 part series can be found
at the following link:
http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/fat-loss/fat-loss-for-athletes-part-l.html
The first and foremost 'rule' of fat loss is that there has to be a caloric deficit created.
Despite claims and nonsense to the contrary, no amount of food combining or nutrient
shifting or whatever can overcome this.
Without an imbalance between energy intake (from food) and output (from activity), the
body will not need to draw on stored body fat for fuel. So a deficit of some sort must be
created. Whether that is done by reducing food intake or activity (or a combination of
both) depends on the specifics which I'll talk about a bit below.
As discussed in the article series linked above, there are both fast and slow approaches to fat
loss and each has their pros and cons. In general, slower fat loss tends to harm performance
less but can set an athlete up for overtraining if they try to combine a heavy training load
with a long-term restriction of calories.
Fast fat loss gets the diet over faster (so that normal caloric intake and training can resume)
but has the potential to hurt performance acutely; generally training has to be cut back
somewhat to make a fast fat loss approach work. Depending on the time of the year, this
may or may not be feasible.
A potential compromise is to start with a week or two of aggressive dieting to get some fast
fat loss and then move into a more moderate approach to keep the fat loss going. Not only
does this not hurt performance as much, it helps with adherence as the initial rapid fat loss
is positively reinforcing.
One issue that goes into the decision of fast vs. fat loss is the amount of fat the athlete is
carrying. As a generality, fatter athletes can lose fat faster than leaner athletes. The latter
group may have to settle for a very slow rate of fat loss to avoid hurting their training or
competition performance.
As noted above, fat loss is predicated on an imbalance between energy intake and output
and whether it's better to reduce food intake, increase activity or use some combination of
the two is worth addressing. I would mention that fast fat loss approaches, requiring
extremely large daily deficits are usually best achieved with big time caloric restriction, most
athletes simply don't have the flexibility to add a ton more activity to an already heavy
training schedule.

69

Which is actually a consideration regarding activity vs. diet for creating the deficit. An
athlete already performing a large amount of training may have nowhere to add more
activity; in that case, cutting calories may be the only option.
At the same time, due to their training status, athletes can often burn a significant number
of calories in even low to moderate intensity activity and adding 30 minutes per day of such
training to their load may be achievable and allow more food to be eaten while still
generating gradual fat loss.
Another issue is the athlete's body weight; larger athletes, by dint of consuming more food,
can often reduce their food intake without much problem. Smaller athletes are already
eating less food and reducing that amount more may be impossible; adding activity may be
the only way to generate a deficit.
This raises the question of what type of activity to add. While there is currently a
fascination with high-intensity training for fat loss, for athletes this is often an impractical
approach. Their training load is already so high that adding more high-intensity work just
burns them out. Adding reasonable amounts of low to moderate intensity activity is usually
workable without wrecking them.
In this vein, many mixed sports athletes have a large strength/power component to their
overall performance and adding a lot of continuous endurance work often causes problems.
In that case, very low intensity work (bodybuilders have used brisk walking for years and it
works without cutting into" recovery) may be preferable.
Methods such as the extensive tempo methods often used by sprinters (repeated bouts of
100-300m at a low intensity with walking breaks) is one way to increase caloric expenditure
without harming power performance or cutting into recovery.
However, when extra activity either can't be done or isn't sufficient, that means reducing
total food intake. On a fairly moderate deficit diet, a daily reduction in calories of 10-20%
from maintenance calories per day would be reasonable depending on body weight and
desired rate of fat loss. This raises the question of what should be cut.
In general, unless intake is excessive, dietary protein intake should never be reduced. If
anything, protein requirements go up when calories are restricted, reducing protein intake
while dieting simply causes the loss of lean body mass which hurts performance (in
occasional situations, an athlete needs to or can afford to sacrifice muscle mass but this
tends to be rare).
That generally leaves either carbohydrates or fats and which is best to cut depends on the
specifics. If an athlete is consuming an excessive amount of dietary fat, reducing amounts is
an easy way to significantly reduce daily caloric intake (e.g. a 20 gram reduction in dietary
fat is nearly a 200 calorie/day reduction).
If fat intake is already in the appropriate range, reducing concentrated carbohydrate intake
may be required. Note that this can lead to progressive muscle glycogen depletion and
athletes will need to 'refeed' or 'carb-load' from time to time to ensure that performance is
maintained. More information on this topic can be found on my website or books.

70

Of course, if an athlete is consuming a lot of empty calories from alcohol (or other foods),
that would be the most logical place to cut that food out to reduce total caloric intake.
A final issue that comes up is the topic of around-workout nutrition when an athlete is
striving for fat loss. As I mentioned in Chapter 9,1 feel that at least some amount of around
workout nutrition should be maintained even when fat loss is the goal; I suggest athletes
make reductions to their food intake to other meals of the day. This allows proper training
intensity and quality to be maintained, along with recovery while still allowing for the
creation of a proper deficit.
To allow for sufficient food intake at other times of the day, the lower recommendations for
around-workout nutrition may be more appropriate but I do suggest maintaining it to one
degree or another (especially for high-quality/intensity workouts).
As far as fat loss supplements go, endless products have come and gone and few have done
much. Most of the truly effective fat loss supplements are either compounds that boost
metabolic rate (such as the ephedrine/caffeine stack), blunt appetite or some combination of
the two.
Athletes will have to make choices about whether or not to use these on their own; some of
them are on the banned list and they often cause problems (e.g. ephedrine can cause
cramping) that interferes with proper training.

Gaining Muscle While Losing Fat


If there is a singular goal that athletes seek in terms of modifying body composition, it's
gaining muscle while losing fat. While this can certainly occur under certain specific
conditions, for the most part it is difficult to achieve (again, marketing claims to the
contrary notwithstanding).
As noted above, gaining muscle requires a surplus of calories and protein, losing fat a
reduction in at least caloric intake. Since you can't be consuming a surplus and a deficit of
calories at the same time, it should be clear that achieving simultaneous muscle gain and fat
loss is a problem.
And while the idea of having the body pull calories out of fat cells to support muscle growth
is an intriguing one, and does occur under certain situations (notably fat beginners and
folks returning from a layoff), as athletes get leaner, the odds of this occurring without drugs
become progressively more difficult.
Usually the only workable approach to this is to alternate periods of higher and lower
caloric intake in an attempt to shift the body from a muscle gain to fat loss state. This can
be done on a day to day basis where an athlete eats slightly more on heavy weight training
days and slightly less on conditioning days; more complex schemes (such as those outlined
in some of my books) are also possible. I'd refer readers to my website again for more on
these types of ideas.

71

Putting it All Together

've covered a lot of information in this book (and the accompanying seminar DVD),
much of which may seem a bit disconnected in terms of how it all fits together. From
total energy, protein, carbohydrate and fat requirements to issues of around workout
nutrition to supplements, hopefully readers can at least start to see how some of it fits
together into a comprehensive whole.
To make it easier, I'm going to present a couple of samples of daily diets (and a couple of
sample meal plans using the exchange system) to illustrate how the information in this
book might be put together. I want to really emphasize that these are specific examples and
shouldn't be taken as more than that; I do not want readers to think that I am suggesting
that they do exactly this on a day-to-day basis. I'll note the specific circumstances that each
schedule applies to since that will help make some sense of why things are structured as
they are.
Example 1
The first example is an athlete who has to perform two workouts in a day but can not space
them in an ideal fashion. For reasons related to facility availability, the first workout occurs
in the early afternoon with a conditioning workout done shortly thereafter.
8am: Wake up, take caffeine.
9-9:45am: Low-intensity treadmill walk if needed to control body composition.
10:30-llam: Eat breakfast. Take multivitamin, 5 fish oils, Calcium, Vitamin D.
1:30pm: Take pre-workout caffeine.
2:15pm: Begin warmup.
2:45pm: Take first drink of around workout drink (60 grams carbs/30 grams whey
protein in 1 L fluid with 5 grams creatine).
3pm-5pm: Ice workout. Sip drink at 15-20 minute intervals during workout.
5:10pm: Cool down, finish bottle of around workout nutrition.
5:30pm: Protein bar and diet soda on the way home.
7:30pm-8:30pm: Bike ride, Another during workout drink (45 grams carbs/15 grams
whey protein in 1 L fluid).
9pm: Whole food dinner (red meat 3X/week). Calcium, Vitamin D, 5 fish oil
capsules.
10pm: Take zinc/magnesium to prepare for bed

73

As you can see, the odd structure of the day has certain implications for the overall
structure. Only two whole food meals (breakfast and dinner) can be accomplished due to
the short-break between the afternoon and evening workout. As noted in Chapter 11, basic
supplements are taken morning and evening with meals and creatine is taken in the around
workout shake.
Example 2
Example 2 is closer to a more standard training day with the exception of breakfast. As
noted in Chapter 9, the athlete doesn't have time for a proper pre-workout meal and jumps
straight to Phase II of around workout nutrition which is the Immediate Pre-workout meal.
Everything else should be fairly explanatory.

6am: Wake up, take caffeine.


7:15am: Start warmups.
7:45am: Start sipping on during workout drink (60 grams carbs/30 grams whey
protein in 1 L fluid with 5 grams creatine).
10:10am: Finish drink while cooling down.
11am: Whole food lunch, multivitamin, 5 fish oils, calcium, Vitamin D.
2-3pm: Sometimes whole food meal, sometimes protein bar.
4pm: Caffeine pre-workout.
5-6:30pm: Bike ride with during workout drink (45 grams carbs/15 grams protein in
1 L fluid).
7pm: Whole food meal, fish oils, calcium, Vitamin D.
9pm: Whole food meal.
10pm: Take zinc/magnesium to prepare for bed.

Sample Meal Plans


Having shown how mixed athletes might structure an overall day based on a couple of
unique training demands, I want to give two sample meal plans to show how the
recommendations given earlier in this book would be met with whole foods. Again, please
note that these are only examples. Some of the food choices may seem odd as these
recommendations were made for the seminar which was held in Canada and I thought it
was funny to put things like moose meat on there.
I find that many people read meal plans and assume that that is what I'm suggesting that
they eat exactly. Please do not make this mistake. These are simply examples of how to
meet the requirements I've discussed; food exchanges and substitutions should be made
based on your own food preferences and availability.
I've provided two different situations to try and illustrate how the information in this book
might be put together. The first example is a female athlete at 60kg (132 lb.)and 18% body
fat, she has 49 kg (108 lb.) of lean body mass. Since she is not seeking muscle mass gains,
protein will be set at 2.4 g/kg (1.1 g/lb); this will be reflected in the around workout
nutrition recommendations as well. Energy intake is set at 40 cal/kg (18 cal/lb) assuming
approximately 90 minutes of training per day. Dietary fat will be set at 1.1 g/kg (0.5 g/lb).

74

A sample day's meal plan showing meals, supplements and amounts of each food is shown
below.

Example 1: Female Athlete at 60kg and 18% Body Fat


Food

Amount

Protein

Carbs

Fat

Calories

120 grams
200 grams
2 slices
60 grams

~8 grams
Trace
4 grams
14 grams
26 grams

9 grams
25 grams
24 grams
Trace
58 grams

5 grams
Trace
2 grams
5 grams
12 grams

113
100
130
111
454

Breakfast: 8am
Low-fat Milk or Yogurt
Fruit
Toast
Back bacon
Total

Take multivitamin, calcium, and 3-5X1 gram fish oils at this meal.
L u n c h : 11:30 pm
Low-fat Milk
Fruit
Bread
Turkey or tuna fish
Salad or vegetables
Light mayo
Total

120 grams
200 grams
2 slices
60 grams
N/A
30 grams

8 grams
Trace
4 grams
14 grams
N/A
Trace
26 grams

9 grams
25 grams
24 grams
Trace
N/A
4 grams
58 grams

5 grams
Trace
2 grams
Trace
N/A
8 grams
15 grams

113
100
130
56
N/A
90
489

1 bar
200 grams
120 grams

20 grams
Trace
8 grams
28 grams

30 grams
25 grams
9 grams
59 grams

5 grams
Trace
5 grams
10 grams

245
100
113
458

45 grams
15 grams

0 grams
15 grams
15 grams

45 grams
0 grams
45 grams

0 grams
0 grams

180
60
240

480ml
200 grams

15 grams
0 grams
15 grams

24 grams
25 grams
49 grams

5 grams
0 grams
5 grams

205
100
305

112 grams
N/A
30 grams
200 grams

28 grams
0 grams
0 grams
5 grams
33 grams

0 grams
0 grams
5 grams
42 grams
47 grams

6.6 grams
0 grams
5 grams
0 grams
11 grams

184
N/A
65
188
437

316 grams

59 grams

2383

Mid-Day Snack: 2 : 3 0 pm
'Average' Protein Bar
Fruit
Low-fat Milk
Total
During Workout: 5-6pm
Carbo Powder
Whey
Total
Post Workout: 6 : 1 5 pm
Low-fat Milk
Fruit
Total
Dinner: 8: 30pm
90% Lean Red Meat
Salad
Low Fat Dressing
Baked Potato
Total

Take any other vitamins, etc. including fish oils here.


Daily Totals

143 grams

The second athlete is a 90 kg (198 lb.) male with 10% body fat and 81 kg (178 lb.) of lean
body mass. He is trying to increase his muscle mass and protein will be set at the highest
level of 3.0 g/kg (1.4 g/lb) with energy intake set at 45 cal/kg (20.5 cal/lb) to cover both
training and increased calories to support muscle growth. Dietary fat will be set in the
middle of the recommendations at 1.5 g/kg (0.7 g/lb).

75

Example 2: Male Athlete at 100kg and 10% Body Fat


Food

Amount

Protein

Carbs

Fat

Calories

240 grams
200 grams
2 slices
14 grams
120 grams

16 grams
Trace
4 grams
Trace
28 grams
48 grams

18 grams
25 grams
24 grams
Trace
Trace
67 grams

10 grams
Trace
2 grams
12 grams
0 grams
24 grams

226
100
130
108
111
676

Breakfast: 8am
Low-fat Milk/Yogurt
Fruit
Toast
Butter
Moose meat
Total

Take multivitamin, calcium, and 5X1 gram fish oils at this meal.
Lunch: 11:30 pm
Low-fat Milk
Fruit
Bread
Turkey or tuna fish
Salad or vegetables
Light mayo
Total

120 grams
200 grams
4 slices
120 grams
N/A
60 grams

8 grams
Trace
8 grams
28 grams
N/A
Trace
44 grams

9 grams
25 grams
48 grams
Trace
N/A
8 grams
90 grams

5 grams
Trace
4 grams
Trace
N/A
16 grams
25 grams

113
100
244
112
N/A
180
749

40 grams
Trace
8 grams
48 grams

60 grams
25 grams
9 grams
93 grams

10 grams
Trace
5 grams
15 grams

490
100
113
703

0 grams
30 grams
30 grams

30 grams
Trace
30 grams

0 grams
Trace
Trace

120
120
240

0 grams
15 grams
15 grams

60 grams
Trace
60 grams

0 grams
Trace
Trace

240
60
300

50 grams
0 grams
50 grams

0 grams
75 grams
75 grams

Trace
0 grams
Trace

200
300
500

14 grams
0 grams
10 grams
0 grams
0 grams
24 grams

358
N/A
130
188

8 8 grams

3944

Mid-Day Snack: 2 : 3 0 pm
'Average' Protein Bar
Fruit
Low-fat Milk
Total

2 bars
200 grams
120 grams

Immediate PreWorkout
Carbo Powder
Whey Protein
Total

30 grams
30 grams

During Workout: 5-6pm


Carbo Powder
Whey
Total

45 grams
15 grams

Post Workout: 6 : 1 5 pm
MPI Powder
Carbo Powder
Total

50 grams
75 grams

Note: Can add 3-5 grams creatine to pre- and post workout drinks.
Dinner: 8 : 3 0 pm
90% Lean Red Meat
Salad
Low Fat Dressing
Baked Potato
Fruit
Total

224 grams
N/A
60 grams
200 grams
200 grams

58 grams
0 grams
0 grams
5 grams
0 grams
33 grams

0 grams
0 grams
10 grams
42 grams
25 grams
72 grams

776

Take any other vitamins, etc. including 5 grams fish oils here.
Daily Totals

2 6 8 grams

76

487 grams

Again, please take the above as examples only. Regional food availability, preferences, even
financial factors go into what foods and athlete can eat on a day to day basis. Rather, the
above are simply some examples of how athletes in different situations might meet their
daily nutritional requirements using actual amounts of whole foods.

77

The End

nd that's that, a look at the topic of applied nutrition for team mixed sports.
Between issues of energy requirements, macronutrient requirements, around
workout nutrition and supplements, I hope I've given you the tools to start
optimizing your daily nutrition.
As noted in the introduction to this book, this information was originally put together for a
seminar and the DVD's are included with this book. Covering roughly 5 hours of
information, much of the same information that I put in this book is discussed there. The
original Powerpoint Slides can be found in the second booklet that came with this package;
the original seminar notes were expanded into the book you hold in your hands.
If you have further questions or concerns regarding sports nutrition and especially
modifying body composition, I'd refer you to my website (which is where you purchased
this anyway) at:
http://www.bodyrecomposition.com
I can also be found on my support forum at:
http://forums.lylemcdonald.com
If you still have unanswered questions from this book or the accompanying DVD's.

79