What To Eat For Optimal Sports Performance? (Part 3)


How many times have you heard people say, you are what you eat? I have heard this so many times – even from people who do not work out. Its typically said to make you think before you swallow that donut, or when somebody is making a change to their diet and feel proud. Fact is  it's very true. In the US there is an abundance of food, everywhere you look, fast food, food business. As a strength athlete we need to eat right 95% of the time, consistency is key if you are going to make it, keep it D3. Did you know that eating fast food can make you depressed? Sounds weird… right? Apparently its true. If you generally eat a healthy diet, consuming fast food can increase your risk for depression, according to a Public Health Nutrition study of nearly 9,000 participants. In fact, those who eat greasy burgers, hot dogs, and fries are 51% more likely to develop depression than those who don't indulge. The study concluded the more fast food you consume, the greater the risk of depression. The study demonstrates that those participants who eat the most fast food are more likely to be single, less active and have poor dietary habits, which include eating less fruit, nuts, fish and vegetables.

THE BOTTOM LINE: If you have a dream to achieve, strength athlete or not, then do a u-turn in the fast food parking lot and get to the grocery store. Try to limit your fast food habit to once per month. Or if you are too busy to cook and need to grab and go, find a place that offers healthy alternatives. Fuel your body right.

Once you have completed your workout, the first thing you need to have planned is what you're going to eat, your muscles need to recover from the shock they have received. The better your recovery the harder you can train in the next workout.

Immediate Post Workout Fueling

Muscle glycogen must be replenished in order to recover and get stronger. After your work out your body is most receptive to producing new glycogen within the first few hours. Blood flow to the muscles is optimum, so muscles will absorb the glycogen. It must also be noted that the cells within muscles are more sensitive to insulin during this time period. Insulin promotes glycogen synthesis, therefore this is the time when you need to intake a high glycemic carbohydrate. In short, the glycemic scale demonstrates how fast a food is converted to glucose in the blood. A blog covering the glycemic index will be published soon. Basically, the higher the index the faster it converts to glucose, a sports drink, a banana, or potatoes are great refueling foods.

As a high glycemic carbohydrate will replenish glycogen faster, you should consume this immediately or as soon as possible after your workout. An example of a quick fix is honey, blended into a protein drink. A lot of people are not hungry right after their workout, however this is only a small drink, which you can throw into your gym bag. Get it down you.

Post Workout Fueling

After an hour of your workout you need to eat. The single most important nutritional factor affecting muscle development and strength is calories. The calories being referred to are from nutritionally dense foods, not empty calories like white breads, or fried foods. During your workout you have used up a tremendous amount of energy, a high carbohydrate diet will energize you for your workout and provide your body with its recovery needs. Studies have shown that high carbohydrate diets give strength athletes an advantage during the workout, therefore the harder you work out the more food you need to help you build more muscle.

The post workout meal needs to be a combination of high carbohydrate and high protein and fat. To build muscle you must be in a positive nitrogen balance. Nitrogen lost by excretion must be replaced by nitrogen in the food source. Protein-based foods have a high nitrogen content. A strength athlete needs to be in a positive nitrogen balance, this means the body is retaining dietary protein and using it to synthesize new tissue. New tissue means, more muscle and this will translate into a bigger PR.

Fat is not a bad food group, providing you use some common sense. Balance is key, just like with everything else. Majority of grade A protein sources are attached to a saturated fat, think about it, meat, poultry, eggs, cheese etc. What is the reason for this? Fat and protein interact synergistically with each other, and with other nutrients in your body. For example, fat helps your body absorb vitamins A, D, E and K. Dietary fat is essential for brain development, aids in blood clotting, helps control inflammation and is an important source of energy for your body. Protein is our best friend it helps build and maintain your muscles, organs, glands, skin, and hair.

How Much Fuel?

How much food you eat depends on what you are trying to do. If you want to build, then you need to eat more. If you are trying to maintain then keep things the same, if you are trying to lose weight then you will need to taper your calories. Another major factor is how hard are you working in the gym? If your work out is not very intense and you are eating a high protein high carbohydrate diet then you will gain weight, some muscle but mostly fat. Basically, if you eat more protein than your body can use and consume more calories than your body needs, the excess calories will be stored as fat. However, if you eat excess protein but consume a reduced calorie diet, you’ll likely lose weight. A study published in a 2012 edition of the “Journal of the American Medical Association” reported that during times of overeating, total calories, not the amount of protein you eat, account for increased body fat. Researchers conducting this study found that subjects who overate while consuming a normal-protein or high-protein diet gained more weight than those who overate while consuming a low-protein diet. Body fat increased regardless of the type of high-calorie diet consumed. If you are looking to build muscle, kick-start your system, add 500 to 1000 calories per day, weigh yourself daily. This is an experimentation phase, as you need to gauge how your body reacts. Adjust your needs as you see fit, remember you need caloric dense foods. Stay away from processed foods, stick with the basics.

NO Processed Foods

Processed foods are usually loaded with sugars like high fructose corn syrup. It is well known that sugar, when consumed in excess, is seriously harmful:

 Negatively impacts the metabolism

 It can lead to insulin resistance, high triglycerides, increased levels of the harmful cholesterol and increased fat accumulation in the liver and abdominal cavity

• Sugar consumption is linked to heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer

If you look at the ingredients label for a processed, packaged food, chances are that you won't have a clue what some of the ingredients are. That's because many of the ingredients in there aren't actual food... they are artificial chemicals that are added for various purposes.

Processed foods often contain:

•Preservatives: Chemicals that prevent the food from rotting

•Colorants: Chemicals that are used to give the food a specific color

•Flavor: Chemicals that give the food a particular flavor

Keep in mind that processed foods can contain dozens of additional chemicals that aren't even listed on the label. For example, "artificial flavor" is a proprietary blend. Manufacturers don't have to disclose exactly what it means, and it is usually a combination of chemicals. For this reason, if you see "artificial flavor" on an ingredients list, it could mean that there are 10 or more additional chemicals that are blended in to give it a specific flavor. Of course, most of these chemicals have allegedly been tested for safety.


Eat wholesome calorie dense food that will help you recover from a grueling workout and restock glycogen stores in order to build muscle. Be consistent in this approach and you will build muscle. Do not go into a negative nitrogen balance. Lastly stay away from processed foods they are harmful to your goals, low in nutrition and keep fast food to a minimum.

Please feel free to leave your comments. If you have any questions regarding this article, please feel free to ask your questions. Till the next time my friends………………...CONQUER STRENGTH & STAY D3!

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