Proper Nutrition for the Endurance Athlete

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Marathons and triathlons are no longer just for Olympic athletes.  They are becoming increasingly more popular for anyone looking for a fun and competitive hobby.  With this extra activity comes the need for extra calories!  No athlete is the same and each individual will have their own nutritional needs.  Based on the size and activity level of the endurance athlete, daily caloric needs can be anywhere from 2,000 to beyond 5,000!  It’s best that these calories come from a variety of sources, including complex carbohydrates, lean proteins and healthy fats.

The most important macronutrient for an endurance athlete is the carbohydrate.  Carbs are the primary source of fuel for our bodies when we engage in physical activity.  Any remaining carbs that haven’t been utilized right away are then stored in our liver and muscles as glycogen.  These glycogen stores are essential for endurance athletes, as it allows the individual a continued source of energy during their lengthy workout.  Eating a diet rich in complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, quinoa and whole wheat pasta is optimal, as they are a great source of both energy and nutrients.  However, it may backfire to increase carbs right before an event due to potential gastrointestinal issues. The majority of athletes benefit from a high carbohydrate diet and should keep their intake consistent throughout training and race days for peak performance.

Fats are necessary in the diet and are utilized during low to moderate to intense physical activity.  The best types of fats to consume are unsaturated fats from sources like fish, avocado, olive oil and flaxseed. It’s best to limit saturated fats from foods like fatty meats, cheeses and cream as well as trans-fat from hydrogenated oils.

Protein intake is also important to consider in an athlete’s diet.  According to the Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition, eating between 1.2 to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is recommended for athletes partaking in light to moderate activity. On the high end, this equates to about 116 grams of protein for a 150 lb. athlete.

Eating nutrient-dense foods like DeliverLean’s freshly made, chef prepared meals will make it a breeze for endurance athletes to get proper nutrition.  Each meal is calorically balanced, dietitian approved and contains a lean protein source, complex carbohydrate as well as fresh fruits and vegetables.  For endurance athletes, the Classic meal plan will provide the energy needed to fuel up before a workout and also to rebuild post-race.  Additionally, calorie content and macronutrient levels are presented on each meal, so athletes can pick and choose their meals according to specific nutritional needs.

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