Elite athletes often have a combination of physical attributes that help them excel in their respective sports. Key physical attributes that elite athletes tend to have are as follows:
High levels of strength and power: Elite athletes often have a high level of strength and power, which allows them to generate force quickly and efficiently. This is especially important in sports that require explosive movements, such as sprinting, jumping, and throwing.
Excellent cardiovascular fitness: Elite athletes also tend to have excellent cardiovascular fitness, which allows them to perform at an elevated level for extended periods of time. This is important in endurance sports such as long-distance running, cycling, and swimming.
Fast reaction times: Elite athletes often have extremely fast reaction times, which allows them to quickly process and respond to stimuli in their environment. This is especially important in sports that require quick reflexes, such as boxing, martial arts, and tennis.
Great agility and balance: Elite athletes also tend to have great agility and balance, which allows them to move quickly and change direction with ease. This is important in sports that require frequent changes of direction, such as soccer, basketball, and football.
Good flexibility and range of motion: Elite athletes often have good flexibility and a wide range of motion, which allows them to move their bodies more efficiently and with less risk of injury. This is important in sports that require a high degree of flexibility, such as gymnastics and figure skating.
Proper body composition: Elite athletes often have a specific body composition that is ideal for their sport. For example, sprinters tend to have a higher proportion of muscle mass, while long-distance runners tend to have a lower body fat percentage.
Time after time, we come to a realization that our athletes simply don’t eat enough calories. It’s a full time job to fuel your body with the calories and macronutrients required to perform, repair, recover, and grow. If you are training at Stadium Performance, our programming will build lean mass and burn bad fat, but only if you have the calories available to do so.
If you do not consume enough calories, not only will you inhibit muscle growth, but you will enhance fat storage.
Not eating enough can cause your body to go into “starvation mode,” which is a natural response to periods of food scarcity. When your body perceives a lack of available energy from food, it reduces the amount of energy it burns to conserve resources. This means that your metabolism slows down, making it more difficult for your body to burn calories.
At the same time, your body begins to break down muscle tissue to use as energy, which can lower your overall lean body mass. This is important because muscle burns more calories than fat, so a decrease in muscle mass can lead to a further reduction in metabolic rate.
Additionally, when your body is in starvation mode, it becomes more efficient at storing energy as fat. This is because it perceives a lack of available energy from food and wants to ensure that it has a backup source of energy in case of prolonged periods of food scarcity.
As a result, not eating enough can actually make it more difficult to lose weight, as your body may start to store more energy as fat instead of burning it off. This is why it’s important to eat a balanced diet with enough calories to support your body’s energy needs, while still maintaining a calorie deficit if you are trying to lose weight.
The best way to determine how many calories an athlete needs to consume depends on several factors. We use an equation that uses two values; Resting Metabolic Rate and Total Daily Energy Expenditure. For the purpose of this blog, our estimates are not exact. They are a general rule that all athletes can follow.
Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR): RMR is the number of calories the body burns at rest to maintain basic bodily functions, such as breathing, circulation, and digestion. RMR can be estimated using equations based on factors such as age, gender, height, and weight, or it can be measured directly through our in-house InBody composition analysis.
Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE): TDEE is the total number of calories an athlete burns in a day, taking into account their RMR and their activity level.
MALES: (Your target weight x 10) + (825 calories x # hours spent training) = Calories needed per day
Example: 200 lbs. (2,000) + 3 hours training (2,475) = 4,475 calories
FEMALES: (Your target weight x 10) + (500 calories x # hours spent training) = Calories needed per day
Example: 140 lbs. (1,400) + 3 hours training (1,500) = 2,900 calories
Athletes need to eat a lot of calories to stay lean for a few reasons. First, they have a high energy expenditure due to their intense physical activity. This means that they burn more calories throughout the day than the average person, and they need to consume enough calories to meet their energy needs and maintain their activity level.
Second, athletes need to consume enough protein to support muscle growth and repair. Resistance training and other high-intensity activities can cause muscle damage, which requires extra protein to repair and rebuild. Without enough protein, athletes may not be able to recover from their workouts and may experience a decrease in muscle mass, which can impact their performance.
Finally, athletes need to consume enough carbohydrates to fuel their workouts and support their energy needs. Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy, especially during high-intensity activities. Without enough carbohydrates, athletes may experience a decrease in performance, as their bodies will not have the necessary energy stores to support their activities.
The best macro profile for building muscle in athletes depends on a few factors, including their individualized needs and preferences, their training goals, and their specific sport or activity. That being said, here are some general guidelines for the macro profile that can support muscle building in our athletes:
Carbohydrates (4 Calories per gram): Carbohydrates are an important source of energy for athletes, especially during high-intensity activities. Consuming enough carbohydrates can help athletes maintain their energy levels during workouts and support muscle growth. Females and males should aim to consume 3 grams per pound of body weight per day.
Example: 140 pound female 140(3) = 420 grams of CARBS
Example: 200 pound male 200(3) = 600 grams of CARBS
Protein (4 Calories per gram): Adequate protein intake is essential for muscle growth and repair. Females should aim to consume 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day. Males should aim to consume 1.5 grams per pound of body weight per day.
Example: 140 pound female 140(1) = 140 grams of PROTEIN
Example: 200 pound male 200(1.5) = 300 grams of PROTEIN
Fat (9 Calories per gram): Fat is also an important nutrient for athletes, providing energy, supporting hormone production, and aiding in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Both females and males should consume roughly .5 grams of fat per pound of body weight.
A female athlete with a target weight of 140 pounds who strength trains for 90 minutes and plays soccer for 90 minutes every day, needs:
140 lbs. (1,400) + 3 hours (1,500) = 2,900 calories of which 1680 calories are from carbohydrates, 560 calories are from protein, and 630 calories from fat.
A male athlete with a target weight of 200 pounds who strength trains for 90 minutes and plays hockey for 90 minutes every day, needs:
200 lbs. (2,000) + 3 hours (2,475) = 4,475 calories of which 2,400 calories are from carbohydrates, 1,200 calories are from protein, and 900 calories from fat.
The ideal schedule of meals and snacks for athletes in a single day depends on factors but one similarity exists amongst elite athletes; all elitists wake up early, eat often, train hard, and sleep well. There is a well-established correlation between lack of sleep and sports performance. When an athlete does not get enough sleep, their physical and cognitive performance may be negatively affected.
The following is a generic, yet ideal example of the nutrient timing schedule for elite athletes. Gone are the days of three-square-meals. Elite athletes eat to be content, with a purpose, and often. Six to seven meals and snacks is what it will take for you to outlast your peers and separate yourself from the competition.
Breakfast (around 7-8am): A balanced meal that includes carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. Examples may include oatmeal with fruit and nuts, eggs with whole-grain toast and avocado, or a smoothie with protein powder, fruit, and veggies.
Mid-morning snack (around 10am): A small snack to help maintain energy levels. Examples may include a piece of fruit with nut butter, Greek yogurt with granola, or a protein bar.
Lunch (around 12-1pm): Another balanced meal that includes carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. Examples may include a quinoa salad with grilled chicken and veggies, a turkey and avocado sandwich on whole-grain bread, or a veggie stir-fry with brown rice.
Afternoon snack (around 3-4pm): A small snack to help maintain energy levels and prepare for an upcoming workout. Examples may include a protein shake, a piece of fruit with cheese or nut butter, or a small smoothie.
Pre-workout snack (around 5-6pm): A snack that provides easily digestible carbohydrates for energy. Examples may include a banana, a sports drink, or a small serving of pasta with tomato sauce.
Dinner (around 7-8pm): A balanced meal that includes carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. Examples may include grilled fish with roasted sweet potatoes and veggies, a turkey or tofu stir-fry with quinoa, or a large salad with grilled chicken, beans, and avocado.
Evening snack (around 9-10pm): A small snack to help with recovery and prevent hunger overnight. Examples may include a small serving of Greek yogurt with fruit, a protein bar, or a small handful of nuts.
Breakfast is an important meal for athletes as it provides the energy and nutrients needed to fuel their morning activities and morning training sessions. Here are some breakfast ideas for athletes:
Greek yogurt parfait: Layer Greek yogurt with fresh berries, granola, and a drizzle of honey for a high-protein and high-fiber breakfast that will keep athletes feeling full and energized.
Oatmeal with nuts and fruit: Cooked oats are a great source of complex carbohydrates and fiber. Add in some nuts and fresh fruit for a balanced breakfast that will keep athletes fueled for the day.
Whole-grain toast with avocado and eggs: This breakfast is a great source of healthy fats and protein. Toast a slice of whole-grain bread, spread on some mashed avocado, and top with a fried or scrambled egg.
Smoothie bowl: Blend up some frozen fruit, Greek yogurt, and spinach to create a nutritious smoothie bowl. Top with granola and additional fruit for some crunch.
Breakfast burrito: Scramble some eggs with veggies like peppers, onions, and mushrooms, and wrap them up in a whole-grain tortilla with some salsa and cheese for a filling and portable breakfast.
Peanut butter and banana on whole-grain toast: This simple breakfast is a major source of protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Spread some peanut butter on a slice of whole-grain toast and top with sliced banana.
Pre-workout meals are important for providing the energy and nutrients needed to fuel exercise and optimize performance. The ideal pre-workout meal will vary depending on the type and duration of exercise, as well as individual dietary needs and preferences. Here are examples of pre-workout meals:
Oatmeal with fruit and nuts: A bowl of oatmeal with sliced banana or berries and a handful of almonds or walnuts supplies complex carbohydrates, fiber, and healthy fats to supply sustained energy during exercise.
Greek yogurt with fruit and granola: Greek yogurt is high in protein and low in fat, which makes it a great pre-workout choice. Add fresh berries and a handful of granola for added carbs and crunch.
Whole grain toast with peanut butter and banana: Whole grain toast provides carbohydrates and fiber, while peanut butter and banana provide healthy fats, protein, and potassium. This is a great option for quick energy before a workout.
Grilled chicken with sweet potato and vegetables: For a heartier pre-workout meal, grilled chicken with sweet potato and vegetables provides protein, complex carbohydrates, and fiber to fuel exercise and optimize recovery.
Smoothie with protein powder and fruit: A smoothie made with protein powder, fruit, and Greek yogurt or almond milk provides a balance of protein and carbohydrates for sustained energy during exercise.
A post-workout snack with a 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio can help replenish glycogen stores and aid in muscle recovery after a workout. Here are some examples of snacks that fit this ratio:
Chocolate milk: This classic post-workout drink is a great option, as it provides carbohydrates and protein in a convenient and tasty package.
Greek yogurt with fruit: Greek yogurt is high in protein, and adding fruit such as bananas or berries provides carbohydrates.
Whole-grain toast with peanut butter and banana: This snack provides a mix of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats.
Trail mix with dried fruit and nuts: A mix of dried fruit and nuts provides a good balance of carbohydrates and protein.
Apple slices with almond butter: Apples are a good source of carbohydrates, and almond butter provides protein and healthy fats.
Smoothie with fruit and protein powder: Blend together your favorite fruits with protein powder and a liquid such as milk or almond milk for a quick and easy post-workout snack.
So there you have it. I did my homework. I checked, double checked, reverse engineered, re-engineered, researched, edited, rewrote, proof-read, and published this blog all for you. Fetch your calculator. Open up your notepad, and put on your thinking cap. It’s time to eat the science.