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Feb 16

Nutrition For Athletes: Body Weight & Body Composition - What's the Difference?

Posted by Michael Bewley on Monday, February 16, 2015

I want to share with you a conversation that happened with an athlete last week. Not knowing anyone was watching or listening, a female tennis athlete stepped on a scale next to my office and exclaimed to herself, “Why is my weight keep going up an down!” to which I replied, “Who cares what you weight? Your concern should be percent body fat and lean body mass. Body weight doesn’t tell you either.” Startled and intrigued, she reacted with the question, “What do you mean?” as she made her way to my office to learn more.

For so many athletes (female especially) the scale is a source of stress and self-loathing, but it really shouldn't be. Not only does your weight change every day, it also changes at different times through a single day, so there is no point to weighing yourself every day — and definitely not multiple times a day if you goal is weight loss. The reason? Because of body fluid fluctuations — you might be retaining water from too much sodium consumption, or you may not have gone to the bathroom yet (gross, but true). All of these things affect your body weight.

The issue with checking the scale daily (it’s okay if you’re managing hydration) is that minor fluctuations can freak out athletes. Instead, the focus during any nutrition plan, whether it’s weight loss (fat-loss), weight gain (muscle-gain), or maintenance, should be monitoring your body composition.

Body composition is the term used to describe the different components that make up a person’s body weight. The human body is composed of a variety of different tissue types including lean tissues (muscle, bone, and organs) that are metabolically active, and fat (adipose) tissue that is not. When you determine your overall body fat percentage, you will get an accurate sense of how much of your body mass is made up of fat and how much is made up of lean muscle. When the body has a greater percentage of fat compared to lean muscle mass, the body will appear heavier than when that number is lower.

For instance, when placed on a scale, one pound of fat is going to weigh the same as one pound of muscle – just like one pound of bricks is going to weigh the same as one pound of feathers. Where the confusion comes in is that muscle and fat differ in density (muscle is about 18% more dense than fat) and one pound of muscle occupies less space (volume) than one pound of fat.

Just think about it – if your weight stayed exactly the same (according to a body weight scale) and we hypothetically took off five pounds of fat from you and replaced it with five pounds of muscle, you will weigh exactly the same. How? Because muscle is more dense than fat; the five pounds of muscle will take up less volume and you will appear slightly leaner, thinner, and/or more toned. Although the number on the scale did not lower, you are certainly more healthy, fit, and are on the right track with your “weight loss” program.

Therefore, I would much rather have five pounds of lean, dense muscle inside my body than five pounds of shapeless, bulky, fat, and I am guessing you would too!  Besides being denser, there are also many health advantages to having increased muscle mass.

The first advantage is muscle burns more calories than fat therefore increasing your metabolic efficiency (metabolism) and body’s ability to burn calories at rest. Know each pound of fat that your body stores represents 3,500 calories of unused energy. In order to lose one pound, you have to create a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories by either consuming 3,500 less calories over a period of time than your body needs or by doing 3,500 calories worth of exercise. Therefore, by increasing your lean muscle mass through resistance and body weight training, you will help your body burn more calories.  One pound of muscle will burn slightly more calories at rest than one pound of fat tissue at rest (one pound of muscle burns an extra 50-100 calories per day than one pound of fat).

Another benefit of increasing lean muscle is that it improves insulin sensitivity and better glucose control. Research in the 2011 Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism reported that a 10% increase in lean mass resulted in an 11% improved insulin sensitivity within the body. This is great news – people with a higher insulin sensitivity have better glucose control and ultimately, lower rates of diabetes. What is more, less dietary glucose will turn into body fat and less insulin is necessary to keep body systems operating optimally.

When you become less obsessed with scale readings and more focused on what truly matters (lean muscle) with your nutrition program, success will follow.  This is why it is important to use more than one method to track your progress.  Some of these methods include:

  • before and after pictures
  • girth and body measurements
  • body fat percentage and
  • gauging fitness and conditioning level

A good rule of thumb is to have all the above methods measured once, every 4-6 weeks. By adopting this practice, you will know if the experienced weight loss is truly a decrease in body fat. Furthermore, body fat tests vary widely and some claim to be better than others. Do not get caught up in which test is better than the other. Instead, make certain the test you choose is the same test throughout your optimum nutrition plan. Furthermore, have the same practitioner administer your body fat test each time. Varying test-types and testers can disrupt the reliability of the body-fat test, resulting in inaccurate measurements.

When the number on the scale does not budge, it is important to remind yourself that the scale only shows you a snippet of what is happening.  It is only expressing your total body weight – which includes fat, muscle, bones, organs, skin, etc. and not the composition of that weight (lean muscle) within your body.

For more assistance in figuring out your fat-loss plan, consider NutraCarina -- the easiest way to build a personal nutrition plan.

Jan 28

Nutrition For Athletes: Sports Nutrition On The Road

Posted by Michael Bewley on Wednesday, January 28, 2015

As a an athlete, one thing that can get hard from time to time is making sure you eat right while you’re traveling. Often times you’ll find yourself traveling greater distances when games are located in other cities or even states, and as such, this can mean eating on the go.

Some athletes make the unfortunate mistake of choosing fast food as a pre-game meal, which is only going to cause them to feel weighted down and produce lackluster performance. It’s definitely not what you want to be doing.

Let’ go over a few quick tips to help you maintain performance driven eating habits while on the road traveling for your sport.

Get A Room With A Kitchenette
First, if you are traveling for a weekend and will be staying in a hotel, one of the best things that you can do is aim to get a room that comes with a kitchenette. This way, you can prepare your own healthy dishes and are in complete control over your food intake.

Even if you can’t get a full on kitchen, if you can at least get a microwave and fridge, this will allow for many possibilities.

Pack Non-Perishable Items
Next, also be sure that you are packing some healthy, non-perishable items to bring with you in the car/bus ride. This could be foods such as pop-top cans of tuna, home-made trail mix, healthy cereals, fresh fruit with natural nut butter, low sodium beef jerky, and possibly even some whey protein powder.

This way you can avoid having to turn to convenience snacks picked up a gas station, which will definitely not serve your body well.

Seek Out Delicious Healthy Recipes For Protein Bars
Another way to help encourage healthier eating on the road is to find some healthy recipes for protein bars. Commercial protein bars are often not much more than glorified candy bars, so you’ll want to stay away from them for the most part.

A home-made protein bar however you can prepare using all natural ingredients and feel confident it will serve their body well.

Order Wisely
If you are going to dine out in a restaurant for a full meal, avoid ordering up the classic chicken fingers and fries meal and instead go for a lean source of protein that comes with some complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, brown bread, baked potatoes (without butter or sour cream), or whole wheat pasta.

Especially if it is your pre-game meal, you’ll want to ensure you are getting a quality source of carbs in.

HealthyOut App
HealthyOut (Android/iOS) is a new app that can help you find something that's good and good for you when you're tired of cooking, limited on time, or just want to go out to a restaurant. Once installed, tell it the type of nutrition plan you're following, whether you’re going high-protein, balanced, or anything in between, the app can find restaurants near you and make suggestions based on your performance nutrition plan needs.

You can even customize the search based on the type of cuisine, whether you want delivery instead of dining out, or specific ingredients. From there, you can either override the app's suggestions and dig deeper, or go right to viewing the restaurant's phone number, location, or other details.

So there you have the top choices to consider when eating on the go. If you want them to perform as optimally as possible, having them eat right – wherever they are – is a must.

For more assistance figuring out the best snacks to take on the road, consider NutraCarina -- the easiest way to build a personal sports nutrition plan.

Jan 14

Nutrition For Athletes: Sports Nutrition At Sports Tournaments

Posted by Michael Bewley on Wednesday, January 14, 2015

As a parent who’s child is busy training for their sport of choice and always on the go for a wide variety of different tournaments, it’s important that you’re taking the time to plan out their nutrition for these events.

Those young athletes who aren’t fueling their body well at sport tournaments will not maintain as high of energy levels as they could and may also find that after their first game, they really don’t feel much like continuing.

Often at these sports tournaments there will be one game after the next, so maintaining a good amount of energy will be critical to success.

Let’s have a look at some key tips to follow both for their pre-game meal as well as their snacks immediately after their games.

Putting Together The Perfect Pre-Game Meal
To kick-start their energy level off, whether their first game is taking place in the morning or mid-afternoon, it’s going to be essential they get a good meal into them. Take this time to fuel them right because this may only be the large meal they get during that day if their have numerous games within just an hour or so apart.

Having a larger meal when they have to play again in hour or two often won’t sit so well with their stomach’s, so they’ll want to rely on smaller snacks instead in between.

If the tournament is an away tournament, you’ll likely be taking them to a local restaurant, so try and get them eating a lean source of solid protein such as chicken, fish, or lean steak, along with a good source of complex carbohydrate like pasta, rice, or a baked potato with salsa.

Avoid meals that are too high in fat as this could cause them to feel sluggish when they’re out playing during game time. 

This meal should be taken in ideally 90 minutes to two hours before the game is to take place.

If the tournament is a home tournament, then you can seek out some great healthy recipes to serve them that pair together the proteins and carbs that you’re looking for.  Remember to keep the calorie intake of this meal around 350-600 calories depending on their body size.

Snacking In Between
Then after the game is finished, depending on their hunger and energy level, they’ll need to eat another light snack.  This snack should be around 200-300 calories and again, should be primarily protein and carb based.

At this point fruit tends to work well since it is slightly faster digesting than more grainy types of carbs, however granola bars or home-made, lower fat muffins can also work great.

Seek out some delicious healthy muffin recipes that use oats as the main ingredient and you’ll have a powerful energy source that will fuel their body right.

Some parents may want to consider bringing along some chocolate milk in a cooler (or thermos so it’s kept cold) as this can serve as an excellent post-exercise recovery drink and far better than a carbohydrate-only sports drink.

Plus, it tends to be very well tolerated by most kids as well.

Make sure they are also drinking plenty of straight water between games as well as when there are many back to back, especially if they’re involved in an outdoor sport that has them playing outside in the heated weather, they could risk dehydration if they aren’t careful.

After Their Last Game
Finally, after their last game is completed, make sure they are again fueling up right with a wholesome meal. This time they can add a bit healthy fat into the picture, so they could choose a fattier variety of fish or something that contains nuts or is prepared with olive oil.  Seek out good healthy recipes that provide all three nutrients if preparing this dish at home so that their body has everything it needs to repair itself after the strenuous games.

Finally, if you’re at an away tournament, resist the urge to stop off at the local drive thru and order them up a burger and fries. This is a big mistake that many parents make and while the calories in the meal may not be as big of an issue since they’ve just burned up so many over the course of the day, the lack of good nutrients that meal will provide is.

The less of a habit you can get them into of ever eating these types of foods, the better.

So there you have some quick tips to remember as your child gets ready for their upcoming sports tournament. Fuel them well and they will perform to their best of their ability.

For more help finding some perfect inter-game delicious healthy recipes, be sure to check out the Nutracarina -- the easiest way to build a personal sports nutrition plan.

Jan 07

Nutrition For Athletes: Top Sports Nutrition Foods That Are Nutritious, Quick & Easy

Posted by Michael Bewley on Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Fueling your body right with the top great healthy recipes made from high quality foods will be a must if you are going to perform optimally, feel your best, and grow and develop into strong, healthy adults.

Most athletes are overwhelmed with the amount of conflicting advice out there about what constitutes good nutrition, so it’s wise to take some time to really figure this out for yourself so you can be sure you are eating properly.

Let’s go over the top sports nutrition foods that you should focus on in your performance nutrition plan.

Salmon
First up on the list is salmon, which is a very powerful source of protein for your body and will also provide some omega-3 fatty acids as well. This will be important so you can recover quickly and will also foster proper brain health and development.

Try incorporating both canned, as well as fresh variations into your nutrition plan.

Ground Flaxseeds
Ground flaxseed is the next healthy food to start adding to great healthy recipes you prepare. Flaxseeds are high in fiber, contain some protein, are rich in omega fats as well, and work great added to cereal, muffins, protein smoothies, or any other baked food.

Grind them up and you will hardly notice them in there.

Berries
Berries are a must-have food for any athlete. While they aren’t especially calorie dense, they will pack a strong antioxidant punch, which is important so that you feel your best as you go about your practices and games.

Berries are also lower in sugar content than other fruits, so a wise choice for any athlete who’s watching their sugar intake.

Oats
Oats are the next great food to be getting in. High in fiber, low in sugar, and very filling, these work well as a pre-game meal along with a main source of protein.

For those athletes who have higher energy needs, you might even consider serving these raw like cold cereal, which will allow you to get more energy in.

Quinoa
Quinoa is another great complex carbohydrate to start eating more regularly in your meals. It’s a complete source of protein, unlike most other grains, so is a great way to boost your intake if it’s normally quite low.

Quinoa is also rich in dietary fiber and will produce a slow release of energy over a longer period of time.

Chicken
Chicken is a quality protein source that’s a must for any athlete in training. This is another one where you can get creative with in your delicious healthy recipes since it can be prepared so many different ways.

It’s also lower in fat content, so good for those athletes aiming to manage their bodyweight.

Greek Yogurt
Another standout protein source to include in your performance nutrition plan is Greek yogurt. This yogurt variation contains fewer grams of sugar than most regular yogurt varieties and is also much higher in protein.

Plus, the added calcium in the yogurt will help to foster strong bone development, so a must for a growing child.

Top this with ground flaxseed and berries – two other foods mentioned above, and you have a terrific snack for any athlete hard at work.

Broccoli
One stand-out green for its potent nutritional benefits is broccoli.  As long as broccoli is prepared in a tasty manner, most can tolerate this vegetable fairly well, so seek out some delicious healthy recipes to use it in.

Broccoli can also be served up with a lower fat dip prepared with Greek yogurt and salsa for a quick snack any time.

Kale
Finally, don’t overlook kale. Kale is one of the most nutritious foods out there, but very often gets completely overlooked for other lettuce varieties.

Start adding kale to your dinner meals in the salad, or consider baking it to create kale chips instead.

Either way – get this food in.

So there you have some of the top healthy foods that any athlete should be eating regularly. For more help figuring out your overall nutrition protocol, be sure to check out the NutraCarina – the easiest way to build a sports nutrition plan.

Jan 01

Nutrition For Athletes: Tips And Tricks For Sensible Off Season Muscle Building

Posted by Michael Bewley on Thursday, January 01, 2015

If you’re an athlete who is looking for the fastest way to gain weight during the off season so that you can come back strong next year, you need to have a few smart tips and tricks up your sleeve. There’s no denying the fact that you many athletes attempt to experience safe weight gain, but come back next year at pretty much the same body weight they left at. Or worse yet, they’ve only gained body fat.

To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, it’s going to be critical that you are getting into place a proper diet for muscle gaining.

Let’s go over some tips and tricks that you should know.

Maximize The Post-Workout Period
The very first thing that you should be doing is making sure that you optimize the post-workout period. This is the primary time when your body is set to build muscle as it’ll repair the damage from the workout session just performed and go on to develop new lean muscle mass.

This means you want to flood your cells with both protein, which supplies the building blocks for new muscle growth, as well as carbohydrates, which supplies the glucose your body needs to generate that new lean muscle tissue.

Together, these are what will lead to safe muscle gain.

Avoid Processed Foods
Next, you should also be avoiding processed foods in your diet as well. Some people think that when they are attempting to learn the fastest way to build muscle, the more food they get in, the better.

This isn’t quite the case. While you definitely do want to take in more calories, you want those calories to be of high quality.

Otherwise you won’t feel healthy and your chances of gaining body fat will also be higher as well.
Natural and wholesome foods are what you want and what will produce the best results possible.

Stick To Calorie Dense Foods With Your Diet For Muscle Gaining
Moving along, you also need to make sure that you are sticking to calorie dense foods when constructing your diet for muscle gaining.

This means foods such as nuts, nut butters, seeds, oils, avocados, coconut and coconut milk, fatty varieties of fish, lean red meat, dry oats, pasta, bagels, and dried fruits.

The more of these foods you can get into your diet to put on muscle, the greater the chances will be that you do actually see the muscle building results you’re after.

Always Be Prepared
Finally, the last thing to note is that you should always be prepared. Take the time to plan out the meals you’ll serve on your diet for muscle gaining every Sunday so there is never any question what you will be eating.

Track your calories so that you can guarantee that you gain muscle and if you aren’t seeing the rate of muscle growth you desire, you can simply add more calories to the mix to step it up a bit.

Then be sure that you never leave home without some form of high calorie snack so that way no matter what your day throws your way, you will always have nourishment when you need it.  Trail, mix, beef jerky, pop-top canned tuna, protein powder, and whole wheat cereal all work great to carry around with you.

Keep these simple and effective tips in mind about the quickest way to build muscle and you can have a successful off season of muscle gain.

For more help coming up with your complete diet to get muscle, be sure to check out the NutraCarina.

Dec 17

Nutrition For Athletes: Pre-Game Meal Planner

Posted by Michael Bewley on Wednesday, December 17, 2014

If you have a big game coming up that you’ve been excited about for weeks, you want to make sure that you prepare properly by taking your pre-game meal into account. You want to make sure that you go onto the court, field, or ice fully prepared to perform to your best capabilities so that you enjoy the process and continue to improve in your sport of choice.

The pre-game meal often goes overlooked by many busy athletes and they allow just pick up whatever they can find around the house. This is a big mistake as the body has precise nutrient needs at this point that must be fulfilled. 

Let’s go over what you need to know about the pre-game meal so that you can seek out delicious healthy recipes before they play.

When To Eat
The first question you may have is when should you be eating this pre-game meal. It’s important that they eat soon enough before the games that the meal is still delivering energy to their body, but not too soon that you suffer from cramps or indigestion.

This will vary slightly from athlete to athlete, but most will be best served eating around 90 minutes before the game is to begin. If it’s a smaller snack or light meal, then 30-60 minutes can work, but they should test this out in practice first to make sure it doesn’t influence how they feel when they begin playing.

How Much To Eat
How much you should eat during their pre-game meal will depend on when you are having that meal. If they’re eating a full meal, you should consume around 300-500 calories leading up to the game.

If you’re having a lighter snack 30-60 minutes beforehand, keep it to around 200-300 calories so you don’t feel weighed down.

Some athletes can hardly stomach any solid food before a game, whether due to nerves or otherwise, so in this case, they’ll want to focus on a liquid pre-game meal of around 200-300 calories.

Liquids can generally be tolerated closer to the game than solid food can so anytime in the 30-60 minute period before playing will work well.

The Best Foods To Eat
The best foods to be including in the great healthy recipes you prepare before the game will be lean proteins coupled with complex carbohydrates. You want long lasting energy and then the amino acids to prepare the body for exercise, as well as kick-start their recovery.

Much to some people’s surprise, the pre-game meal can be even more important than the post-game meal is in terms of promoting a fast recovery.

Choose carbohydrates such as whole grains, sweet potatoes, or low sugar cereals and pair these with chicken, turkey, egg whites, low fat varieties of fish, or low fat dairy products.

What Foods To Avoid
When it comes to foods you should avoid, you’ll want to avoid simple carbohydrates for the most part because while these will produce a fast energy rush, they’ll lead to an energy crash, which can be very detrimental to your overall playing performance.

Additionally, you should avoid any food that’s very high in fat such as deep fried foods, fatty cuts of meat, fast food, or snack foods that are also rich in fat content.

A small dose of healthy fat can be okay if you’re eating the pre-game meal at least 60 minutes prior to the game, but if it’s a lighter meal closer to playing time, pass on fat entirely.

What To Drink
Finally, you should also take into account your beverage choices. As mentioned earlier, some athletes who can’t stomach whole foods may choose to use a pre-game beverage instead.

If doing so, make sure the beverage contains both protein as well as carbohydrates. A protein smoothie made with low fat dairy products or protein powder along with fruit and possibly some ground oatmeal would work great, as would some plain milk served with your carbohydrate choice.

If you are having something to drink alongside your usual pre-game meal, then water is typically the best choice.  

You should avoid sugar-containing beverages such as fruit juice, soda, or energy drinks because here again, these can lead to an energy spike, but then a crash shortly afterward.

Many athletes think fruit juice is a fine choice since it’s made from real fruit, but don’t let that fool you. It still contains far too much sugar to be used during this time.

So keep these pre-game meal tips in mind as you seek out delicious healthy recipes to prepare. If you need further assistance with figuring out exactly what to eat for your next pre-game meal, be sure to check out the NutraCarina, which will guide you through the entire planning process.

Nov 12

Nutrition For Athletes: Pre Game Meal Ideas

Posted by Michael Bewley on Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Preparing a good pre game meal is a vital element of your success. Athletes who go into their games without proper nutrition are not going to play to their full extent and may even have to cut the game early in some cases.

Fortunately, preparing great healthy recipes for your pre game meal can help you ensure this doesn’t happen.

Let’s give you a few quick ideas for the top pre-game meals to consider.  What you should be eating before you head out is going to depend quite significantly on how much time it is until you play, so we’ll provide guidance for all scenarios.

30 Minutes Prior
If you are having the meal very close to game time, if it’s first thing in the morning or you’re just in a rush and haven’t had a chance to actually cook something, you’ll want to keep it light and simple.
Some terrific pre-game ideas in this case would be:

  • An apple or banana with some natural nut butter and a glass of skim milk
  • Some Greek yogurt along with fresh berries and a tablespoon of slivered almonds
  • A tuna-filled whole-wheat pita pocket
  • A fruit smoothie prepared with skim milk, Greek yogurt, a frozen banana and a half tablespoon of peanut butter

All of these take no time to prepare so you can easily grab them as you head out the door. What you want to really avoid during this time is picking up a commercial protein bar or fast food meal if you’re in a rush because neither of these options will give your body the nourishment it needs.

60 Minutes Prior
If you do have a little more time until the game, then you should prepare a lighter meal to have versus just a snack.

This meal should contain a whole food source of protein along with some complex carbohydrates. Some great options here would include:

  • A bowl of oatmeal prepared with a sliced baked apple and skim milk
  • An egg white omelette with diced veggies, salsa, along with some whole wheat toast
  • A grilled chicken wrap with freshly stir-fried vegetables
  • A healthy variety of pizza prepared with an English muffin, tomato sauce, diced vegetables, and low fat cheese (and some diced chicken if available)
  • A salmon sandwich on whole wheat bread with some raw vegetables

These meals will all contain around 250-400 calories, so will be enough to fuel you until the game is finished, but not so much that you feel weighed down.

Two Hours Prior
Finally, if you’re planning a pre-game meal for a few hours before you set out to play, then you can definitely seek out some delicious healthy recipes that are more filling so you will be well fueled for a longer period of time.

Great options here could include:

  • Ground turkey burgers on a whole wheat bun
  • Spaghetti with ground turkey meat balls rather than beef
  • Lasagne prepared with extra lean ground beef and low fat cheeses
  • Grilled chicken breasts with oven baked potatoes in olive oil and fresh dill
  • High protein pancakes made with oatmeal and fresh berries

So there you have some quick and fast ideas to get you started. Remember to use as many great healthy recipes as possible over time so that you don't get bored of making smart choices.

For more help with pre-game meal planning, check out NutraCarina -- the easiest way to build a personal sports nutrition plan.

Nov 05

Nutrition For Athletes: Tips And Tricks For Sensible Off Season Fat Loss

Posted by Michael Bewley on Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Learning how to lose weight in the off-season is a great tool to have as this way you can focus on changing your body weight closer to your ideal at a time period where performance isn’t quite as critical.

How athletes lose weight will vary from athlete to athlete but most will prefer to get the job done when they don’t have competitive games and numerous weekly practices to worry about. Since any good weight reducing program is going to have you cutting your calorie intake, this can take a toll on your performance to at least some extent, so you need to be aware that some athletic decline may occur.

Fortunately, but using smart tips and tricks to produce weight loss in the off-season, you can experience a minimal detrimental impact and keep up your training as best as possible.

Let’s go over some of the key things to know.

Have High And Low Calorie Days
The first great tip to know when it comes to weight loss for athletes is that the best approach is to have both higher and lower calorie days. Place the lower, more aggressive fat loss days on those that you aren’t performing your training sessions so you can rest up as much as possible.

Remember that activity demands calories and if those calories aren’t coming in, that activity is not going to be enjoyable to perform. You’ll feel tired, sluggish, and weak – which definitely is not a pleasant experience.

By placing your higher calorie days on those days when you are more active, you can get around this issue relatively easily.

Get To Know Your Body
Next, start to get to know your body. Each and every person is slightly unique in terms of what weight reducing program is going to work best for them. Some respond very well to lower carb diets while for others, it makes them feel downright horrible.

Remember that there is no right and wrong way – that’s absolute thinking that will get you into trouble. Rather, there are sensible nutritional strategies that need to be tailored to each individual.

Take some time during the off-season to learn how your body responds to various dietary protocols and then adjust your intake accordingly.

Try low carb for a few weeks and see how you feel. If that doesn’t work, consider a slightly lower fat approach.  It’s through trial and error that you will figure out the best weight reducing program for you to use.

Remember that what works great for your training partner, may not work well for you at all.

Choose The Right Carbohydrate Sources
Moving along, you also need to focus on the proper carbohydrate sources as you set up your weight loss guide to follow. Some athletes make the mistake of cutting out all complex carbohydrates, relying strictly on fruits and vegetables for their intake.

While both of these carbohydrate sources are incredibly healthy so from a health standpoint this is an okay thing, the problem is they don’t supply much energy at all.

Even though you are dieting, you do still need sufficient fuel to get you through your day. If you aren’t taking in that fuel, you’re not going to train properly at all and you’ll likely give up your efforts to lose weight entirely.

Choose complex carbohydrate sources that are as natural as possible instead.

Great examples include brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes, barley, oatmeal, as well as couscous. If you eat smaller portions of these, especially around when you are most active, you will be creating the best approach for athlete weight loss possible.

Don’t Rely On Supplements
The next quick tip to remember to help you lose weight sensibly during the off-season is to avoid relying on supplements.

Some athletes simply seek out the ‘next best supplement’ that promises them fast results. Before they know it, they’re experiencing very negative side effects such as an incredibly rapid heart rate, difficulty sleeping, and trouble focusing.

All of these do tend to come about when you use central nervous system stimulants, which are what fat loss supplements essentially are.

Instead, focus on perfecting your food intake. If you eat right and maintain proper activity levels, you shouldn’t need supplements at all.

And any supplements that you do use as you go about your weight reducing program should be nutrient focused such as a multi-vitamin, protein powder, and fish oil – to make up for nutritional deficiencies you may be experiencing.

No supplement is going to produce fast weight loss so make sure that you don’t fall for their fancy marketing claims.

Monitor Your Cardio Volume
Finally, the last quick tip for off season weight loss for athletes is to make sure that you are monitoring your cardio volume. Some athletes have the tendency to really increase their overall cardio levels when the off season takes place, putting in hours each week.

This is not the route to lose weight – it’s only the route to an overuse injury. Remember that you cannot out-exercise a bad diet, so rather than running yourself into the ground on all those cardio machines, step up and start taking more time to fix your diet.

It’s far easier to create a 500-700 calorie deficit 5-7 days per week (which would produce a one pound weight loss per week) through changes to your diet plan than through hours spend in the gym.

So there you have the key points to remember if you want to lose weight during the off season and make sure that you do so in a safe and healthy manner. It’s a great time to focus on this goal, but you must still do so properly otherwise there will be a price to pay.

If you’re at all uncertain about how to create a proper weight loss diet for yourself, check out the NutraCarina, the easiest way to build a personal nutrition plan.

Oct 29

Nutrition For Athletes: What, When, And How To Eat For Maximum Muscle Growth

Posted by Michael Bewley on Wednesday, October 29, 2014

If you’re looking for the fastest way to gain lean muscle mass in a hurry, one of the top things that you absolutely must be getting into place is your diet plan. There’s no doubt about it, when it comes to experience safe muscle gain that sticks, you simply can’t do it without eating properly.

If you don’t provide your body with the raw materials needed to ensure growth takes place, you may get stronger, but you definitely are not going to be getting any larger.

So what is the best diet to get muscle?

Let’s go over what you need to know about proper nutrition so you can learn the fastest ways to gain muscle.

Get Your Calorie Intake Set
The very first thing that you’ll need to do is get your calorie intake set for growth. You need to supply a surplus of calories, which is the additional fuel that the body will then use to generate that new lean muscle mass tissue.

Most average male athletes will maintain their body weight at around 17-19 calories per pound of body weight, so you’ll need to add an additional 250-500 calories to this intake to spark new growth.

As much as you may dislike calorie counting, if you want to guarantee your success, it’s what needs to be done.

If after two weeks of eating at a certain calorie level you are not seeing the muscle gain that you had hoped for, it’s time to increase your calorie intake further.

Choose Your Foods Wisely
Next we come to the best foods to have in your diet to get muscle. For best results, you need to take in foods of all three macronutrients, proteins, carbs, and dietary fats.

It’s a must not to cut any of these out as each will play a vital role in the safe muscle gain process. Protein provides the building blocks in which new lean muscle mass tissue is built from, carbohydrates provide the energy to actually build up that muscle tissue as well as to fuel your intense workouts, and in addition to that, dietary fat helps to keep your testosterone levels higher, your body healthy, and provides another very calorie dense source of fuel as well.

When selecting your foods from each nutrient, try and choose the most natural sources possible. For lean protein, select chicken, fish, turkey, lean beef, low fat dairy products, eggs and egg whites, along with whey protein powder.

For carbohydrates, make sure that you take in plenty of unprocessed complex varieties such as oats, brown rice, quinoa, barley, sweet potatoes, whole wheat pasta, and whole wheat breads.  Avoid simple carbs such as processed snack foods (crackers, chips, granola bars, sugary cereals), along with traditional junk food like candy, chocolate, ice cream, and so on.

Even though you do need more calories since you’re aiming for safe weight gain, if you take in poor nutritional choices, you’ll have an increased risk of gaining body fat and you won’t be nearly as healthy either.

Choose wisely for lean muscle gain.  Finally, for fats, you should aim for mostly unsaturated and omega varieties coming from nuts and nut butters, healthy oils, avocados, flaxseeds, coconut, along with fatty varieties of fish.

Then, to top your diet off, don’t forget to get in some fresh fruits and vegetables. You don’t want to overdo these foods as they aren’t so calorie dense, so won’t really help your mission of safe weight gain, but you do need to get them in since they are so nutritionally dense. Add smaller servings to a few of your meals to keep your nutrition high, without getting filled up too quickly.

If you can put all these pieces of the puzzle together, you will be building a very effective diet to get muscle.

Eat Frequently
Now when it comes to how often you should be eating, since you are going to have a much higher calorie intake, you’ll find you do best eating every few hours. If you are aiming to eat just three times per day and have a calorie intake of closer to 3500 or 4000 calories, this can be extremely difficult to get in and you’ll end up feeling bloated and sluggish after each meal.

Instead, divide it up into six meals per day so you feel energized after each one and your muscles get a steady stream of nutrients to kick-start the growth process.

In addition to this, make sure that you are eating some protein and complex carbohydrates right before as well as after your training and workout sessions. This is the prime time when the body is in muscle growth mode, so you want to maximize it by feeding your body the nourishment that it needs.

Consider Liquid Calories
Finally, the last piece of advice to remember so that you can learn the best way to build muscles is to use liquid calories.

Trying to eat whole foods with such a high calorie intake can cause some digestive strain for a number of people, so blend up a high calorie protein shake every so often, like Critical Reload.

Mix together some milk, Critical Reload powder, Greek yogurt, frozen or fresh fruit, flaxseeds or nut butter, and if you want, some ground up oatmeal to boost the calorie intake.

This is a fast and easy way to get more calories in without feeling like you’re eating – yet again.  Some people who want to gain muscle as fast as possible will start to feel like they never stop eating, so using smoothies and Critical Reload can help out with this issue.

So there you have the top points to remember as you construct your diet for muscle gaining. If you take the time to plan out your daily meals and snacks, making sure all nutrients are covered and your calorie intake is met, it will pay off dramatically in the results that you see.

It is a bit of work – but well worth it!

If you would like more help with a diet to get muscle, be sure to check out the NutraCarina, the easiet way to build a personal nutrition plan.

Oct 22

Nutrition For Athletes: School Locker Muscle - Quick & Easy Snacks For Between Class

Posted by Michael Bewley on Wednesday, October 22, 2014

If you’re gearing up to put yourself on a diet to get muscle one, you might feel as though your class schedule is currently your biggest obstacle.

There’s no denying the fact that as a busy student, it can be hard to find times during the day when you can get the nourishment in that you need.

But, if you want to succeed with your goal to learn the best way to build muscle, nutrition is a big part of that game. As such, the more healthy and calorie dense snack ideas you can come up with to take for between classes, the better off you’ll be.

Let’s go over some smart snack ideas that you should know.

Bagel With Peanut Butter
The first quick and easy snack to take with you to school for safe weight gain is a bagel smeared with some natural peanut or almond butter. This will provide you with a good source of complex carbohydrates along with some healthy fast and a bit of protein to even out your blood sugar levels as well.

It’s fast and easy to prepare first thing in the morning to take with you on the go.

Tuna Pocket
A tuna pocket is another great option and tends to transport very well with you as you move through your day.

Combine some canned tuna with some lower fat mayonnaise or cottage cheese and diced onions. Place this in a whole wheat pita pocket along with a bit of olive oil dressing and some spinach leaves.

Wrap and go. You’ll be all set with a protein packed snack that will really assist with safe muscle gain.

Beef Jerky And Orange
Another smart snack that will help you learn the quickest way to build muscle is beef jerky with an orange. This is a perfect pairing because the vitamin C in the orange will actually help to boost the absorption of the iron from the beef jerky and getting in enough iron will be paramount for muscle building success.

When selecting your beef jerky, aim for a lower sodium variety in order to keep it as healthy as possible. Fortunately, it’s naturally lower in fat, so will be a great protein source mid-day.

Apple With Cheese
Going in for an apple with cheese is another smart snack to consider as you move through your diet to put on muscle.

Cheese is a source of protein and will contain some saturated fat, however smaller doses of saturated fat will help to keep your overall testosterone levels higher, so this isn’t a bad thing.

The apple will provide some crunch, fiber, and the sweet taste you may be craving, so this is a great snack pairing.

Critical Reload And Oats
Finally, for those rushed mornings when you simply didn’t have time to prepare a snack, go in for some Critical Reload powder along with oats.

Oats are a very good source of complex carbs and you can easily mix this in a water bottle along with some water (or milk purchased at the vending machine if you can), for a complete snack that will get you through your next class.

This is a far better option than some of the commercial weight gainers that you might otherwise purchase as well.

So there you have some of the top options for your diet to get muscle to eat between classes. Use these and see faster success.

For more help setting up your diet to get muscle, be sure to check out NutraCarina -- the easiest way to build a personal sports nutrition plan.