When it comes to attaining optimal health and fitness, we at OSR in Kailua know that nutrition is just as important as exercise. Nutrition plays an even more critical role if you are rehabilitating from an injury or illness in order to help the body restore itself to a healthy state. For athletes, the quality and quantity of food ensures the body is properly fueled to perform at its best, increase energy stores, and prevent muscle degradation. If the body does not have the energy it needs to perform and recover from the activity, the likelihood of injury is increased significantly.
There are three macronutrients that the body needs in large quantities to function. These include proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the brain’s primary source of energy and are required for higher intensity exercise. Fats can provide energy for lower intensity or longer duration forms of exercise, and protein is necessary in order to maintain and build muscle.
The general recommendation of protein intake for an individual ranges anywhere from .8 to 2 grams per kilogram of bodyweight. The lower side pertains to sedentary, healthy individuals and the higher side is for endurance athletes, those that are dieting or recovering from injury. Protein should come from healthy and lean sources, such as lean cuts of meat, beans, eggs, nuts, or low fat dairy products. There are no benefits from eating more than the recommended amount of protein, as it will be converted to use as an inefficient source of energy and possibly stress the kidneys to rid the body of harmful ketones.
Carbohydrates should range from 2-5 grams per kilogram of lean body mass, once again the lower side pertains to sedentary individuals and should increase as activity increases. Examples of complex carbohydrates include fruits, vegetables, oats, rice, beans, and other whole grains. Complex carbohydrates are digested slower to sustain energy for a longer period of time than simple carbs and possess a larger amount of nutrients for the body to absorb.
Fat should make up the rest of your caloric intake and should come from healthy plant sources. Olive, coconut, or avocado oil are excellent sources, as well as nuts, seeds, and avocados. Fat should never be removed from the diet because it is necessary for proper metabolic and hormonal balance, and the body cannot produce it itself.
As an example, we will use a moderately active individual that weighs 150 pounds or 68 kilograms with 20% body fat. The average caloric recommendation for a moderately active individual is around 2000 calories.
Protein: Multiplying a bodyweight of 68 kg by the recommended 1.5 grams of protein equals 102 grams.
Carbohydrates: Subtracting 20% of body fat from 68 kg leaves us with about 54 kg of lean body mass. Multiplying 54 kg by 4 grams, as a middle range for carb intake, comes out to 216 grams.
Fat: In order to calculate fat intake, the amount of protein and fat in calories should be subtracted from the total caloric intake. 1 gram of protein and carbs is equal to 4 calories, while 1 gram of fat is 9 calories.
102 grams of protein plus 216 grams of carbs equals 318 grams. To convert grams to calories, multiply this number by 4, which comes out to 1272 calories. Subtracting this from the total intake of 2000 calories comes out to 728 calories. Further, dividing 728 calories by 9 to find the amount in grams, comes to 81 grams of fat.
The specific amount of macronutrients that works for each individual varies, you may feel better with a higher carb intake and lower fat diet or vice versa. Although there are ranges that depend on the individual, no macronutrient should be completely eliminated from the diet, as each is required in large, but proportional amounts to achieve and maintain a healthy, functioning body. Here at Oahu Spine & Rehab, we work with patients every day that are athletes, often athletes have very specific nutrition plans including counting macros.
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