Posted by: Dr. Tyrone A. Holmes | July 27, 2009

10 Big Nutrition Mistakes #5: Being Unclear About Your Nutritional Requirements

In my last post, I made the following statement, “if you are an endurance athlete, you must develop a nutrition and hydration plan that provides you with enough energy to successfully complete a workout or competitive event”.  Developing such a plan involves several considerations but perhaps the most important is a basic understanding of your nutrition and hydration needs.  This can be a complicated process, but I have three tips to keep things simple:

1.  Estimate Your Daily Caloric Requirements.  How many calories do you need to eat each day to provide you with adequate energy for training and competition while maintain your ‘fighting weight’?  There are various formulas and techniques you can use to determine your caloric requirements, but I suggest you use one of the online calculators to get an estimate (it’s a lot simpler this way).  One very useful site is MyPyramid.gov.  Click on MyPyramid Plan, enter your age, gender, height, weight, and level of physical activity and you will receive a personal Pyramid Plan that provides an estimate of your daily caloric needs as well as a breakdown of your recommended daily allowances from each of the 5 major food groups (grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, and meat & beans). 

2.  Estimate your Daily Allowances of Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fat.  Based on your daily caloric requirements, determine the number of carbohydrate, protein and fat grams you need each day.  Once again, this can get complicated so I suggest simplifying it by using an online calculator.  One that I find useful for endurance athletes is MarathonGuide.com.  After entering your age, height, weight, gender and activity level, you will receive an estimate of your daily caloric requirements, and a breakdown of your recommended daily allowances from carbohydrates, proteins and fats.  You can then use this information to develop a daily nutrition plan.

3.  Listen to Your Body.  While it is very helpful to know your daily caloric requirements and the form this should take in terms of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, don’t feel compelled to count every calorie.  Let your body be your guide.  Eat when you are hungry, but NOT until you feel full.  If you do, you have overeaten!  Eat smaller meals more frequently.  This reduces the chances of feeling really hungry and overeating.  Pay attention to how various foods and food combinations affect your athletic performance.  For example, if you find you are often feeling fatigued toward the end of a long exercise bout, you may need to eat more carbohydrates before and during exercise.  If you feel sluggish after a particular meal, you may need to eat something different prior to exercise. 

NEXT POST – August 3, 2009

10 Big Nutrition Mistakes #6: Relying too much on energy bars and energy drinks

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