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Nutrition Guide for Active Individuals

Disclaimer: Train With AJ is a Kinesiology and Health based company and provides evidence based nutrition for your knowledge. This nutrition guide is not a prescription. You may have specific dietary requirements and/or sensitivities which may require a specific diet which is beyond the scope of this guide. Please refer to a dietician or doctor for further information.


NUTRIENT BREAKDOWN

As a human being, you need sufficient nutrients to survive. If you are physically active, you may need even more.

Nutrients are divided into 6 categories:

  • Carbohydrates

  • Proteins

  • Fats

  • Minerals

  • Vitamins

  • Water

Although Fibre is not a nutrient, because it is not digested by the body, it is essential to human nutrition as well.


CARBOHYDRATES

Carbohydrates are needed to provide energy during exercise. Carbohydrates are mostly stored in the muscles and liver.

There are 2 types of carbohydrates: complex carbohydrates (ie: pasta, bagels, whole grains, peas) and simple carbohydrates (syrups, sugars, candy).

Complex carbohydrates will provide energy, fibre, vitamins and minerals. Simple sugars will not provide vitamins, minerals and other nutrients and are highly processed.


Nutritious carbohydrates: whole grain bread, pasta, apples, brown rice, bananas, mung beans, chickpeas, corn flour, potatoes
A variety of nutritious carbohydrates: whole grain bread, pasta, apples, brown rice, bananas, mung beans, chickpeas, corn flour, potatoes


Recommendations:

  • It is recommended that 45-65% daily calories should come from carbohydrates. But this varies depending on the individual's exercise intensity, and carbohydrate demand. (ie: An individual that partakes in high intensity exercise more often, or is participating in a race or marathon would need a higher amount of carbohydrates the night before).

  • You should eat carbohydrates a few hours before exercising if you are exercising for longer than 1 hour, or are doing intense aerobic exercising or strength training.

  • During exercise, you may need to replenish your body with carbohydrates such as a sports drink or a small snack if going for long periods of time.

  • After exercising, you should replenish the body with some carbohydrates if you are exercising for longer than 1 hour.

  • Quick snacks for before or after working out: yogurt, nuts, granola, fruit juice, toast

PROTEIN

Protein is important for muscle growth and repair. Protein can be used by the body for energy, but only after carbohydrates have been used up. (However this is not recommended). Protein, along with strength training will promote muscle growth.


Variety of protein sources: beef, fish, chicken, eggs, shrimp, cheese, sardines, nuts, beans, mussels, seeds
A variety of protein sources: beef, fish, chicken, eggs, shrimp, cheese, sardines, nuts, beans, mussels, seeds

Recommendations:

  • It is recommended that 10-35% of your daily intake should be from protein. This can vary depending on training demands and recovery, and diet preference.

  • Athletes should intake protein on the higher end of the recommended amount (25-35%) to promote good performance and muscle and tissue recovery.

  • After a training session, athletes should aim for 20g of protein for muscle regeneration and recovery following exercise: immediately after to 2 hours after training.

  • You should intake around 20g of protein through regular portions or meals throughout the day rather than all at once since the body can only absorb this amount of protein at one time.

FAT

Fat is important in aiding the absorption of vitamins such as A, D, E, and K, protecting vital organs, aiding in hormone production, and providing energy at lower exercise intensities. Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat which reduces inflammation. Athletes require some inflammation for training adaptation, however, too much inflammation can be detrimental to health and performance. Fatty fish, chia and flaxseeds are the most concentrated forms of omega-3.

There are 4 main types of dietary fats: saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and trans fats. It is important to limit saturated fats and trans fats and try to intake nutrient dense, healthy fats from whole foods. Examples of nutrient dense fats are: avocados, nuts, fish, oil, and flax seeds.


A variety of healthy fats: Avocado, sunflower seeds, almonds, olives, olive oil, walnuts, chestnuts, salmon, flax seeds, pistachios
A variety of healthy fats: Avocado, sunflower seeds, almonds, olives, olive oil, walnuts, chestnuts, salmon, flax seeds, pistachios

Recommendations:

  • It is recommended that the dietary fat intake should be 20-35% of your total food consumption. But this depends on your exercise demands, Ie: if you are doing heavily intense exercise and need to supply that exercise demand with more carbohydrates.

  • Since fat is slowly digested and only used during low intensity exercise, fat is not recommended as a pre-training nutrient. Instead, ingest nutrient dense fats many hours before exercise.

WATER & FLUID

Water is often overlooked as a nutrient for athletes. Water and fluids (water + nutrients ie: electrolyte drink) are essential to keep the body hydrated and at the right temperature. Since water makes up around 60% of the body, you need to stay hydrated for your body to properly function.


Drinking water being poured into a glass

Recommendations:

  • Urine should be light yellow, and you should be going to the bathroom every 2-3 hours to ensure you are drinking enough water.

  • Drink around 2 cups of water 2 hours before a workout.

  • Continue to sip water during and after exercise, about ½-1cup every 15-20 minutes (variance depending on individual and exercise).

  • If exercising for longer than an hour, drink water in the first hour, and electrolytes after that.

  • Teenagers and adults should replace body weight lost during exercise with an equal amount of fluid. For every pound lost, you should drink 3 cups of fluid within the next 6 hours.

SUGAR, TRANS FAT, SATURATED FAT AND SWEETENERS

Refined sugar, trans fat and synthetic sweeteners should all be kept at a minimum, if not eliminated from the diet altogether.

High intake of saturated fat should be limited. Saturated fat is not “bad” for you per se, as it is naturally occurring in food such as beef, lamb, pork, coconut, avocado, egg, cheese, butter, milk.

Trans fats occur in fried and processed foods. They have little to no nutritional value.

Synthetic sweeteners like aspartame (“equal”), saccharin (“sweet n low”), and sucralose (“splenda”) are not optimal for the body. Since they are synthetic, the brain and body cannot process these sweeteners as food and with long term use (and high consumption), can lead to weight gain, cancer, disease and other health hazards. It’s best to go with naturally occuring food as substitutes.

Try opting for more natural alternatives such as: coconut sugar, honey, date sugar and raw sugar.


GENERAL MACRO RATIOS

Note: These values are general. Your macro percentage will be highly specific to you and your measurements, activity level, genetics, and . If you’d like to know your specific macro percentage and how much of each macro you should be eating, let me know and I’ll do a calculation to find the best values for you!


Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges (ADMR):


Carbohydrates: 45-65%

Fats: 20-35%

Protein 10-35%



NOTE ABOUT WEIGHT LOSS/GAIN

If you have tried to work towards a weight loss or weight gain goal, and haven’t seen much progress, here are some questions and notes:


  1. Are you logging your food and weight on a fitness app? The best way to reach a goal is to “measure the facts”. You need to log and measure everything you are eating and your weight consistently in order to make a change. My recommendation for food tracking is through the app MyFitnessPal. This app can be accessed on the iPhone and on Android as MyFitnessPal: Calorie Counter or via computer on the website: https://www.myfitnesspal.com/

  2. Do you know what your macros are to hit your goal? If you do not, ask me, or a dietician or other health professional.

  3. Are you taking the time to portion your meals? With the appropriate carbs, fats and protein to hit your goal?

  4. Are you eating nutrient dense food? Or are you eating empty calories? Opt for foods that nourish you, are packed with nutrients and keep you full, not ones that drain your energy and make you more hungry.

  5. Everyone is different, so everyone’s needs will be different. Your needs and duration to get to your goal will depend on your metabolism, genetics, health complications, exercise level, level of commitment, diet restrictions and stress and lifestyle factors. Everyone’s journey will be completely different!

  6. Quick weight loss and quick weight gain are not sustainable. It’s not healthy either. Since the body has a baseline for all of its bodily processes, there needs to be small incremental changes that are consistent over a long period of time in order to make a healthy change to your body that’s sustainable.

  7. Stress and lifestyle factors are often overlooked - when it comes to making a change in your weight. It may be that stress management and/or lifestyle changes need to be made in order to be at your healthiest and best self.

  8. Keep an open mind. Your goals in general may change after engaging in an exercise and nutrition program. There are so many goals to look out for that are more beneficial than weight change. You may find that the most important thing is feeling better, moving better, increasing quality of life, getting stronger, increasing energy to do daily tasks and much more!


Want to learn more? Check out my other blog posts.


Follow me on Instagram @themovementkin


Until next time,


Kinesiologist demonstrating a jump
AJ Orprecio, R.Kin, Bsc. Kinesiology



REFERENCES:


Canada’s Food Guide


20 food suggestions for an Athletes target protein intake. NSWIS News.


An Athlete's guide to understanding Dietary Fat

Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Medline Plus.




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