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Athlets diet and nutrition



Calories and the athlete


Calories per day

It is recommended that men should take in around 2,550 kcalories per day and women around 1,940 kcalories per day. These are averages and some people will need more and some people will need less - it depends on how active you are. Your calorie intake should be just enough to maintain a healthy body weight, no matter how active or inactive your life is.

gaining or loosing weight

The only thing that influences whether we gain, lose or maintain weight is the number of calories we take in compared with the number of calories our bodies use up. This is just as true for the athlete as it is for everyone else.

Calories taken in Calories used up Result
  3,000 kcalories   2,500 kcalories   Gain weight
  3,000 kcalories   3,500 kcalories   Lose weight
  3,000 kcalories   3,000 kcalories   Stable weight

Even when we aren't exercising, we require energy just to maintain our bodies and their vital functions. Without energy our bodies would cease to function.

The table below shows the energy usage of a sedentary person with a low level of physical activity:

Function % Energy Used
  Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) - energy used to fuel essential activities such as breathing, organ and cellular function during rest or while asleep   65%
  Thermogenesis - energy used to digest and metabolise food and maintain body temperatures   10%
  Physical activity - energy used for movement, for example walking, running, lifting and pulling   25%

Energy balance

Not only is it important to make sure that you are eating just enough calories to keep your weight healthy, but it is also important to make sure that you get the energy from the right sources. The foods and drinks we take in supply energy from four main sources.

Food source Calories per gram
  Fats   9 kcalories per gram
  Carbohydrates   4 kcalories per gram
  Protein   4 kcalories per gram
  Alcohol (for some people)   7 kcalories per gram

For the body to work at its peak you should try to have the right foods and drinks. For your diet and calorie intake to be balanced you should aim for:

Food source Contribution to daily calorie intake
  Fats   No more than 33 percent
  Carbohydrates   At least 47 percent
  Protein   Roughly 15 percent
  Alcohol   No more than 5 percent

For people who do not drink alcohol the percentage calorie intake from carbohydrate should be increased.

And for athletes, experts recommend that you should increase your energy contribution from carbohydrates to roughly 60 percent and decrease your intake of fat by the corresponding amount.


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