Nutrition For Optimal Performance by Matt Wenning

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Nutrition can play a key role in one’s ability to lift and recover. In a perfect world, athletes would eat real food in balanced amounts of carbs, proteins, and fats about every 2–3 hours. We would also eat the proper foods before and after training to give fuel for the workout and fuel for the recovery after the strenuous exercise.

But this is the real world. The real world barely leaves us enough time to train let alone eat properly. This is where supplements come into play. Supplements allow us as training athletes to achieve the proper amount of calories from the proper types of nutrients in an efficient and time sparing way. They also make sure that our immune system, recovery, and general health stay in top shape.

We can start by analyzing protein—what it’s for and how much is needed. Most people think about this nutrient the most. Athletes often think about protein with a “more is better” attitude, but this is simply not true. It has been proven in literature that the body can only utilize 2 grams per kilogram of body weight by nitrogen balance analysis. This means that a 200-lb man only needs and can only utilize 200 or so grams of protein per day. However, the real key is timing.

Protein doesn’t get utilized well in large quantities. It must be evenly dispersed throughout the day in about 30-gram intervals. More protein than that in one sitting and it’s wasted. Why is it wasted you ask? Well most of the protein is ingested in the small intestine. The small intestine only has so many protein binder sites available at one time. If those sites are already being used, the extra protein is carried off to the large intestine and expelled. So this is where your protein intake must be constant throughout the day in small quantities. It has been shown that higher levels of protein don’t create more muscle mass or help in keeping a positive nitrogen balance when compared to normal protein intake. Therefore, don’t waste your money on more protein—just an optimal amount.

Next up is carbohydrates. Carbs may be the most important nutrient and include PCr and glycogen. Glycogen controls insulin and is actually called the protein saving nutrient. The body will always go to carbohydrates before fats and proteins for energy after the PCr system has been depleted. Not enough carbs in the diet before, after, and sometimes during activity and the body will go to protein for alternative fuels. This means no gains in the present and muscle breakdown long term. That’s also why you don’t see any high level strength athletes on the Adkins diet. No carbs means no strength and no speed. If you want to be a skinny fat man, then by all means get rid of carbs in your diet. If you want muscle, then keep reading.

Carbs must also be taken throughout the day. Did you know that your brain runs on 70 percent carbs? Did you also know that your brain and spinal cord are primarily responsible for fast twitch muscle action? Carbs are very similar to protein in that they are best utilized throughout the day rather than in large quantities. But remember—there are many types of carbs. This is why the glycemic index and timing of carbohydrates is so important.

High glycemic carbs are best utilized both pre- and post-workout while low glycemic carbs are best taken throughout the day for steady insulin levels. That is why recovery and pre-workout supplements have so many simple sugars. This brings blood sugar levels back to normal after a workout has drained them. But the real key is steady blood sugar throughout the day through your low glycemic carbs. Read up on the glycemic index for more information.

Last but certainly not least is fats. Fats are essential for muscle protection, proper cell function, and recovery. Fats come in all forms from omega fatty acids to plant fats and animal fats. All are important. Ninety-nine percent of Americans get plenty of the worst kind of fat in their diet, but most don’t get enough omega 3 or omega 6 fatty acids or plant fats. The way our food is prepared in restaurants and even at home usually allows us to get plenty of saturated or bad fats. This means that meal replacement powders or bars should have the right kind of fats in their makeup for a full spectrum of nutrients. Fish oil tablets are also a great way to achieve these omega fatty acids.

Remember that nutrient timing is a crucial part of absorption as well as utilization. Taking multivitamins, fish oil, and other vitamins at the same time every day helps to utilize the supplement much better. This way a certain mineral isn’t overloaded and discarded. These macronutrients protect cell membranes and protect against protein degradation. That’s why vitamin and mineral supplementation is important. Many of us not only train hard but work demanding jobs that don’t always allow us to eat properly without supplementation. These proper nutrients as well as their timing allow the body to repair, grow, and maintain muscle and stabilize energy for demanding workouts. If you want to reach the top, training isn’t enough. You must make an effort both in and out of the gym.

I’m always asked what kind of supplements I take, so here they are. I take creatine from At Large Nutrition, 1–3 grams per day of fish oil capsules, an amino acid tablet, ETS recovery tabs from At Large Nutrition, and a multivitamin. These choices have allowed me to not get sick nearly as much through hard training. They also keep soreness to a minimum and allow me to push a little harder.

References

1. Driskell J, Wolinsky I (1999) Energy-yielding macronutrients and energy metabolism in sports nutrition. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

2. Williams M (2002) Nutrition for Health, Fitness & Sport. Sixth Ed. New York: McGraw Hill.

Matt Wenning is one of only a handful of people to total over 2600 lbs in a professional competition, hold an all-time world record of 2665 lbs in the 308-lb class, and bench press over 800 lbs in a full powerlifting meet. He currently is a private strength coach at Lexen gym in Grove City, Ohio, a personal trainer to many executives and professionals at Capital Club Athletics, and contracted by the US Army. He also works with firefighters, physicians, children with disabilities, and all forms of athletes in the Columbus, Ohio, area.

 

Elite Fitness Systems strives to be a recognized leader in the strength training industry by providing the highest quality strength training products and services while providing the highest level of customer service in the industry. For the best training equipment, information, and accessories, visit us at www.EliteFTS.com.

 




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Submitted by DMorgan on Mon, 09/14/2009 - 9:57pm.

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