Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - Nutrition
Nutritional Principles to Live By

- By: Donald Christie Jr., MD

Nutritional Principles to Live By
(For Serious Athletes and Other Active People)

By Donald Christie Jr., MD, Sports Physician

  1. Food is fuel. (FOOD = FUEL)
  2. Refuel often: 5-7 times each day (3 “squares” plus 2-4 snacks - in effect, something to eat every 2_-3 hours, from breakfast till bedtime, including a high-carb/moderate protein snack within 30 minutes of completing activity).
  3. Make up a food (fuel) budget - and live by it!
    1. Make up a daily protein budget & consume over each of the 5-7 refuelings.
    2. Make up a daily calorie (energy) budget. (Weight in pounds x 10, plus a “fudge factor” to account for fat vs. lean and for growth & activity level.)
  4. Know what's in your food, that is, where's the protein, the carbs, the fat (oils). (Study “Nutrition Facts” labels.)
  5. Look at what you're about to eat and ask, “Will this help me toward my goals?” “Will this 'refueling' positively contribute to my development & training?”
  6. Get most of your fuel from real food, i.e., whole foods, unprocessed foods. Commercial snacks & meal replacements (e.g., Balance Bars, Nitro-Tech Bars, Met-Rx, Slim Fast) are convenient & safe substitutes for real food, but may lack important micronutrients (vitamins, minerals) as well as antioxidants and essential ingredients called flavonoids & phytochemicals found in a balanced diet of real food.
  7. Get your water from water and fruit & vegetables. (Note Hint #4b, below.)

Helpful Hints

  • Hint #1: Have 5-6 servings of low-fat/non-fat dairy products daily. (lactose-intolerant folks, speak with the doctor.) don't sell your bones short!
  • Hint #2: Fruit & veggies - have a serving or two of fresh fruit and fresh (or frozen) vegetables with every refueling.
  • Hint #3: Know about “good fat/bad fat.” we absolutely need some fat, but try to consume the “good” fats & oils (olive, canola, flaxseed, & fish oils) over “bad” fats (lard, butter, hard margarine, & “trans”fats).
  • Hint #4: Avoid unwanted (extra) calories beyond what your energy budget requires.
    1. Obtain most of “budgeted” carbohydrate from fresh fruit & veggies.
    2. Avoid fruit juice and “juice drinks,” which quickly “run up” the carb calorie count without your even knowing it. have an orange, a pear, a peach, or an apple and a glassful of cold water, instead.
    3. Avoid eating more than a single serving of bread, pasta, rice, or potato - all high-carb foods. (pizza crust is bread… )
    4. Exception #1: During very long and intense work-outs, drinking a sports drink - a commercial brand or homemade version (half-strength real oj plus a pinch of salt per 8 oz. drink) - can help maintain your energy & quality of performance to the very end.
    5. Exception #2: Athletes in a growth spurt or elite athletes in very hard training may have a daily energy budget of 4000-6000 calories. They can disregard “b” and “c,” above, for they need extra helpings of pasta, pizza, and potato to meet their energy needs. lucky them.

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