Many dietary guidelines are based on calories (e.g., you should consume 2,000 calories per day), serving sizes (e.g., a serving of protein is equal to the size of your palm) and percentages (e.g., 30% of total intake should be fat). These guidelines are useful for most people, but athletes need specific guidelines. They include grams per kilogram of body weight (g/kg).
This information allows recommendations to meet the athlete’s specific nutritional needs. An athlete who consumes 15% of their calories from protein may eat more than necessary based on high-calorie needs. Many athletes would be severely deprived of energy if they ate 2,000 calories per day.
- A carbohydrate intake of 4-12g/kg is recommended depending on the athlete’s training intensity and volume.
- The protein intake is between 1.6 and 2.2 g/kg/d.
- After satisfying carbohydrates and protein, fat can be allowed in sufficient amounts to meet the rest of your needs. This may be higher than a non-athlete’s limit of 30%.
- This format is not only for daily intake but also provides pre- and after-workout nutrition to ensure that the athlete is properly fuelled. This is a good way to look at your intake if you are heavily invested in training.
These are just a few examples of how body weight can affect intake.
Three hours before training, athletes should consume 3 grams of carbohydrates for every kilogram of bodyweight.
Athlete 1 A cyclist who is 54kg (118 lbs) The formula: 54×3 = 162 grams carbohydrate
Sample Meal: 2 cups oatmeal and 1 banana with 1 cup orange juice. And 2 tablespoons maple syrup.
Athlete 2 A cyclist who is 83 kg (183 pounds).
The calculation is 83×3 = 249 grams of carbohydrate
Sample Meal: 3 cups oatmeal with 1 banana, 1 cup orange juice, 4 tablespoons maple sugar, 2 slices toast, and 2 tablespoons jam.
The heavier cyclist would likely have a lower performance and experience bonking if they ate according to the needs of the lighter person. The lighter person would feel slow and gain weight if they ate the same portions as the heavier person.
Many believe the body can only use 20-25g of protein per meal.
This strategy works well for a 110-pound runner, who would consume approximately 100 grams of protein via meals and snacks. A 200-pound lifter, however, would consume almost half the recommended 1.6-2.2 grams per kilogram of body weight per day if they restricted their meals to 25g of protein. Here is how protein consumption would look based on body weight.
Athlete 1 : 50kg / 110-pound runner
The calculation is 50kg + 1.8 grams protein = 90g protein/day = 30g per meal
Sample meal: 1 cup broccolini, 2 tbsp peanut sauce, 4 ounces flank steak, 1 cup baked sweet potato
Athlete 2: 91kg (200-pound) lifter
The calculation is 91kg + 2.2 grams protein = 200g protein/day = 67.5 grams per meal
Sample Meal: 6-inch turkey avocado sub, 1 Cup cottage cheese, 1 cup lentil soup, and 2 hard-boiled eggs
The average person should consume 30% of their daily calories in fat. This would mean you should consume 66g of fat per day if you eat a 2,000-calorie standard diet. Athletes must consume enough protein and carbohydrates to be able to perform well. After protein and carb requirements are satisfied, fat is added to complete the intake. The calculation can be complicated because of this. This is not a grams x kilogram situation. Instead, it works backwards. It looks like this: ‘Total daily calories required – (carbohydrates g/kg + protein needs g/kg) = calories left for fuel.
You can fuel your body with nutrients based on your body weight. This will allow you to train, recover, and keep your health in good shape. This way of thinking about nutrition can be confusing. A sports dietitian can help you create a nutrition plan that meets your needs.