Food is fuel.
Your body is a lean, mean, roller derby machine....or a broken down junker...depending on the kind of fuel you put in it and how long you leave it sitting stagnant in the garage (or in front of the TV). Its important that as athletes we get a combination of whole foods and supplementation in order to get everything the body needs. So how do we weed through the crap and look at nutritional facts to know whats right for what? Especially with so many high tech nutrition products on the market, its hard to know what you are supposed to take for what and why.
A lot of times when I sit down with skaters to do a free nutrition profile one of the first things I see is that their diet is very high in carbs and very low in protein (yes, you can have one too. click here and send me your info). On average a woman needs between 90-150 grams of protein depending on her height and weight (1 gram for every pound of lean body mass, not over all weight). Most women I talk to get about 30 per day. If are an active person, you need protein to maintain and build lean body mass, ward off hunger, maintain great energy, and keep your blood sugar even. One of the first things I work on with someone is becoming are of how much protein is in the food they are eating which means reading nutrition labels!
Lets compare 3 labels and talk about what a roller derby athletes should look for on a lable based on Meal, Snack, or Workout fuel.
3 main pieces to look at when you are first learning to read lables. 1) Protein 2) Carbohydrates - mainly sugar and fiber 3) Calories
Protein MEALS Shoot for about 15-30 grams of protein depending on your protein requirement (yes, I can map out your protein requirement, click here and send me your info with PROTEIN in the notes section). Pre-workout meal I always opt for a Formula 1 sport because I hate burping up dinner during practice. Or if making a meal 1/3 lean protein 2/3 complex carbs.
SNACKS - Shoot for 10-15 grams of protein...20 if youre a beast like me :-). The protein bars a re good snack because its not too high in sugar but greek yogurt and fruit/veggies is a good one too.
WORKOUT FUEL - 5 grams of protein is enough during workouts to prevent muscle breakdown. You don't want your body eating your muscle for fuel but you don't want to be gobbling down a chicken breast in between jams either.
Carbohydrates First off let me say CARBS ARE NOT BAD! You need them for fuel! If you are doing any type of long over 2 hour plus endurance exercise, you want to be sure to get upwards of 60-70 grams of carbs HOWEVER, this is NON STOP 2 hours of exercise! Like cycling, distance running, etc.
When checking out labels know where you carbs are coming from. Are they sugars, fiber, other carbs?
MEALS - When looking at carb contents of dinners you want 2/3 of the calories to come from carbs (ideally complex carbs high in fiber). Before I became a health coach and learned about nutrition I used to eat a box of Cheese Its for lunch...don't laugh, I did! But I was always hungry soon after and never felt energized. This is because there was 18 grams of carbs, 4 grams of protein and 8 grams of fat PER SERVING! Mind you I was eating about 10 servings of Cheese Its which is 180 g carbs and 80 grams of fat in one meal! That means 45% of my calories were from carbs and 45 from fat and only 10% from protein which left me feeling sluggish. The formula 1 shake alternatively has 13grams carbs, 9 grams protein and 1 gram fat.
Herbalife Protein Bar Deluxe
Herbalife Protein Bar Deluxe
SNACKS - Watch the carb content of your snacks. Too many carbs and you are doomed for a blood sugar crash! I tend to keep the sugars low (below 12 grams) and fiber high (you need 28 grams a day!!) in my snacks. A protein bar and some veggies is a perfect snack. Or use greek yogurt as dip for your fiber packed veggies ( I add protein soup mix to mine for low carb high protein salty amazingness) Power Bars and Lara Bars are very high sugar/high carb snacks intended for those who are doing endurance workouts.
WORKOUT FUEL - Sugars are important during your workouts. Yes I said it, you need some sugar while you work out. This is your bodies easy access fuel source. Shoot for no atrifical sweeteners/colors and also a combination of fast and slow carbs (frutose and maltodextrin) like prolong. 30-60 grams is perfect workout fuel plus electrolytes. If you are only doing a 1-2 hour workout just use 1 scoop prolong. Most sports drinks use glucose and processed sugar which are faster absorbing sugars and wont give you a long lasting sustained energy.
Calories MEALS 200-500 calories depending on your caloric requirement (yes, I can map out your RMR, click here and send me your info with CALORIES in the notes section). If you goal is to maintain you need to consume as much as you burn, to lose you can consume less (but only 500 calories less), to gain just eat more than you burn.
SNACKS- 150-300 calories depending on your total caloric requirement. Remember this is not a meal, its just a snack to keep your blood sugar up, tummy happy, and metabolism burning, you're not supposed to feel like you just at thanksgiving dinner.
WORKOUT FUEL A few hundred calories per hour is sufficient for derby. If you are trying to lose weight/lean out, be careful how much you over compensate. Not all calorie burned are created equal. While your body bug may say 1500 calorie burned, most of that came from glycogen (sugar) stores in your muscles as well as food you had in your system and is NOT equivalent to that burger, fries, and a beer you totally justified consuming at the bar after practice.
Bottom line is its all about balance and finding out whats right for you and your body. As you begin to eat healthier you will be more in tuned with what your body needs. You don't have to be a nutrition label reader extraordinaire right away but just start to be aware of what your are putting in your body and make small adjustments. And, as always, feel free to contact me with questions, comments, and love! email@example.com
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A little motivational amazingness for you! Enjoy!
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