To apply these concepts and translate them into dietary recommendations, let us look at an example. Brian is a 27-year-old Nordic crosscountry skier competing at the international level. He weighs 150 lb (69 kg), and is 5 ft 10 in (70 in). Based upon the macronutrient recommendations outlined in Chapter 4, Brian’s needs are outlined in Table 6.1.
Brian needs to understand how to translate the number of grams of carbohydrate, protein, and fat to food choices. First, Brian’s energy needs are established, and according to the Cunningham equation, Brian needs ~3,700 kcal/day. Based upon Brian’s training volume, he needs 8 g carbohydrates/kg/day, equaling 2,184 kcal/day from carbohydrates. His protein needs are 1.4 g/kg/day, resulting in 380 kcal/day from protein. If we estimate that he needs 1 g fat/kg/day (which would be a minimum amount of fat), then he will consume 612 kcal/day from fat. The weight lossist can go through Brian’s daily intake from the dietary assessment and compare current intake with recommended intake values. Brian
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Then be shown how to modify meals and snacks that might require adjusting in order to align with timing recommendations, such as adding a snack after training but prior to dinner. Along with this recommendation, he can be educated on nutrient-dense food choices for snack ideas.
Brian will then have 524 remaining “discretionary” kcal once he meets his macronutrient needs with nutrient-dense foods. If Brian had a goal of decreasing fat mass, he might choose to cut out some of these discretionary calories, and over a month’s time he could feasibly lose about 1 4 lbs of fat mass given appropriate dietary strategies for weight loss (see Chapter 8). If Brian is working toward weight maintenance, some of these calories may be allocated for alcohol consumption, or a treat or dessert that he enjoys. However, it would not be advisable for Brian to “spend” all of these 524 calories on alcohol or treats; this could significantly reduce the nutrient density of his diet and potentially impact his health. Rather, he should be educated on including other nutrient-dense choices. Given that his initial fat intake was estimated at 1 g/kg, this could also be an appropriate nutrient to increase with an emphasis on healthful fat choices. The concept of discretionary calories is important to understand. An athlete first should meet their carbohydrate, protein, and then fat needs with nutrient-dense choices; by calculating these values, athletes can have an idea of what is “left over” for “treats” and less nutritious choices.
Nutrition education is essential for athletes to understand the connection between the foods that they eat and their performance. In fact, many coaches and training staff members believe nutrition knowledge was a significant determinant in an athlete’s nutrition intake (Heaney et al. 2008). Yet, imparting knowledge is just one component of nutrition intervention with athletes; athletes need to implement this knowledge in their daily lives in order to receive the benefits of sound nutrition practices.
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