When we say that pizza goes directly to your butt, we generally don’t mean your glutes! Anyone who’s ever had a blowout cheat day knows that eating bad food can leave you feeling like you’ve had a hangover, but what about the food you normally eat throughout the week? How does nutrition impact how fast you recover from your workouts?
The Building Blocks of Nutrition
Most CrossFit athletes are at least familiar with the concept of the 3 macronutrients that make up the food we eat – Fats, Proteins and Carbs. Of course, Carbs are normally the vehicle for energy in the cell, while proteins make up the engines of the cells through enzymes. Fat, of course, is the main way that all animals store energy in their bodies, where they can access it during times of famine.
But, how do these macronutrients work when you’re an athlete?
The same way they would in any animal! You need all of the main 3 macronutrients to ensure that you’re performing optimally.
The Case for Carbs
Most athletes avoid carbs, as they’re often seen as fattening. Similarly, most “bad’ foods we eat are loaded with fats and carbs! However, there is a case that having enough carbs is integral for muscle recovery.
If you do not have adequate carbs in your diet, your body will use other methods to create energy. Muscles that are not properly fueled, can suffer damage, and actually be more sore after a workout!
Too Much Protein
Protein gets a lot of credit when it comes to our diets- because muscles are made of protein, there’s no such thing as too much – right? Well, not exactly.
Team USA actually suggests that 1.3-1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is really all that athletes need to properly fuel their bodies. While eating more protein doesn’t cause problems for your body – but your body may be better served eating a little more carbs and fat.
Facts about Fat
Most of us just think about fat as the little bit on our hips, or the jiggle in our thighs – however dietary fat is usually the most disrespected macronutrient around.
When you see athletes eating chicken, rice and broccoli everyday, they’re actually missing out on dietary fat, which helps our bodies build hormones like estrogen and testosterone. These hormones, called Steroids, are actually built with fat – and help unlock your potential in the gym.
What about Water?
The last piece of the nutrition puzzle is water. Water is the oil that keeps the engine of your body going. If you’re drinking enough water, you’re flushing compounds like lactic acid from your muscles, keeping them pain free.
Water, of course, helps us keep our electrolytes in check. Electrolytes, while often seen as a buzzword – are responsible for your nerves firing properly, and your brain being healthy.
Every piece of nutrition is important for you to be the best athlete that you can be! Every athlete is different, which means that every athlete has a different ideal nutritional plan. The biggest takeaway is that a balanced approach to nutrition is what will help you do the best work possible in the box!