People often ask us health and fitness professionals for our top quick tips—so I’ve compiled some here to help you if your goal is to improve your athletic performance and physique!
- Understand your caloric needs. Establish a baseline calorie intake and tweak it according to your goals. Are you looking to build muscle, and therefore need more protein? Etc.
Once you’ve found that baseline calorie amount, be mindful of sticking to it from day to day. This is a step many people overlook, but if you’re ever wondering why you’re not seeing progress—knowing roughly what and how much you’re consuming will be a very helpful starting point. You can track macros using an app like Lose It or MyFitnessPal.
- Consume a sufficient amount of carbs. Carbs are an athlete's main source of energy since the body converts carbs to glucose and stores them in the muscle in the form of glycogen.
While performing a workout or high intensity training, the body converts the stored glycogen into energy. The longer the workout session, the more glycogen depletes. This is why you’ll often hear of athletes carb loading two to three days before an event.
This is why it’s important to incorporate high-quality carbs into your diet if you’re looking to continually improve your training.
- Get good protein—note the emphasis here is “good.” The key to any athlete's success is a balanced diet. While there is a huge emphasis in the fitness world on protein-loading, it’s also important to notice when you’re cramming in too much. Too much protein, especially in more genetically modified formats, can cause a strain on the kidneys. For this reason, it’s important to get the majority of your protein intake from whole foods—like lean meats including fish or poultry, eggs, legumes, etc. Use supplements as a secondary source!
- Water water water! You’ll never hear enough of this from health and fitness professionals. Personally, I aim to consume around 4-6 L per day (about 16-25 cups). In addition to all of the bodily functions that consuming water assists with, being properly hydrated also helps avoid brain fog, mood swings, overheating, and even kidney stones.
Not to mention—water also detoxifies your body and aids in weight loss!
- Consider your meal timings. As an athlete, the timing of your meals is often an important factor. An athlete like myself would consume a meal every 2.5 - 3 hours. Why? Well, I do it for a couple reasons.
First, I prefer eating more frequent, smaller meals to keep the waist looking smaller and avoid that overly-full feeling.
Second, in my experience as a health and fitness coach, I’ve found that eating smaller meals has also been shown to help maintain energy levels, boost the body’s fat-burning potential, and prevent you from ever feeling really hungry or deprived by keeping blood sugar levels steady.
Remember that when it comes to your body, you know best! These are simply the five quick tips I would pass along to athletes who are hitting a plateau or looking to improve their performance!