By: Terry Weyman D.C., C.C.S.P.
Male or female, teen or adult, athlete or non-athlete, we have all seen magazines, movies and television shows equate “the perfect look” with being thin. Sometimes we even believe it. But any healthy person, especially an athlete, needs to remember that the scale is not the guide to follow. Athletes need the proper fuel to achieve and maintain their goals. We cannot judge or compare what goes into our bodies with what goes in (or doesn’t go in) to the bodies of non-athletes.
A recent study estimated that the amount of energy expended by a typical female adolescent athlete could be as much as 5000 to 6000 calories per day. Teens involved in athletics require proper nutrition (fuel consumption) to perform at their optimum level. The teen athlete needs to consume enough healthy foods to also accommodate the maturation process. If not, the athlete will impair their growth and strength potential. They will also notice that their energy reserves will be depleted for that extra effort in the final minutes of “game day.”
According to Lisa Kimona, RD, Kaiser Permanente Hospital, the athlete should “consume enough calories (measurement of energy when food is converted) to maintain your weight through your sports season. Most of the calories eaten should come from a carbohydrate source (such as starch, pasta, rice, fresh fruits and vegetables). A moderate amount of protein is necessary (such as meat, chicken, fish, cheese and dried beans). Though you should keep fat-intake low, fat serves some very important roles. Fat is a carrier for the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. It is also an important part of all cell membranes, and is the preferential energy source for all heart muscles. In addition, fat cells protect vital organs and nerves, and are an excellent energy source for skeletal muscles in endurance events.”
For those of you who are concerned about how much you eat, this is an example of a 2400-calorie diet.
FOOD GROUP PER DAY FOOD GROUP PER DAY
Milk (low-fat) 3 cups (8 oz) Juices 2 cups
Dark green or ½ cup Breads, cereals, 12 servings
deep yellow starches
fruits or vegetables
Citrus foods ½ cup Protein: meat, fish 2 servings
(Vitamin C) poultry, egg, dried
beans or peas
Other vegetables 1 cup Fats, salad 3 servings
Other fruits 1 cup Desserts, candy 1 serving
A sizable amount of food? NO, if you’re an athlete. This was an example of a diet consisting of only 2400 calories, well below the 5000 or 6000 calories teenagers are capable of expending. One important fact to remember is that when participating in sports, your caloric intake must match your caloric expenditures. When in doubt, don’t judge yourself off of a magazine cover. Ask what you want your body to do and provide the fuel necessary to complete the task. If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact your health care provider or nutrition counselor.
Dr. Terry Weyman is a Sports Chiropractor in Southern California, you can gain more information at www.gotcsi.com