Lifting, running, training, working hard…
That’s the easy part of being an athlete (seriously!) It’s what almost every athlete wants to do anyway. Athletes will have no problem crushing it in the gym or at practice.
The hard part, however, is nutrition: eating the right foods in the right amounts to properly fuel your body & achieve your goals.
Whether gaining or losing weight (or neither) is the goal, it all comes down to caloric intake vs. expenditure.
- If you want to gain weight you should be eating more calories than you expend daily. That means, eating a surplus of calories.
- If your goal is to lose weight you need to be expend more than you intake. This equates to a deficit in calories.
- If you are an athlete who is still growing and only care about peak performance, you should consume at least as much as you burn off, if not a little bit more.
While gaining weight, it is also important to place some emphasis on foods high in carbohydrates. Not only will this aid in getting you to the desired caloric intake, but it will also help provide plenty of energy for your training sessions.
While losing weight, the focus needs to be on protein. 1-1.5 grams of protein per lb of bodyweight needs to be consumed daily. The protein will help preserve muscle mass while losing weight as well as keep you full for a longer period of time.
While merely supporting activity and a growing body, 1 gram of protein per lb of bodyweight is sufficient for muscular repair. Because there isn’t a caloric deficit, not as much protein will be needed to support the body (and 1 gram per lb of bodyweight is still plenty.
Here are some general guidelines, based on different goals:
Athletes looking to lose weight should consume 12-14x their bodyweight in calories along with 1-1.5x their bodyweight in grams of protein.
(e.g. 200lb athlete consumes 2,400-2,800 cals with 200-300 grams of protein)
Athletes looking to gain weight should consume 16-18x their bodyweight in calories along with 2x their bodyweight in grams of carbohydrates.
(e.g. 200lb athlete consumes 3,200-3,600 cals with 400 grams of carbohydrates)
Athletes looking to perform well and support the growing teenage body should consume roughly 15x their bodyweight in calories along with their exact bodyweight in grams of protein.
(e.g. 200 lb athlete consumes 3000 calories with 200 grams of protein)