How Many Calories Should an Athlete Eat Per Day

Daily Caloric Requirements for Athletes: The Definitive Guide

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Need of energy in athletes

An athlete’s key to an active life routine is physical fitness. Whether an athlete is a runner or a game player, they all rely on energy, ability and strength. It takes time, training, and patience to be the best, but that all is not enough. They need to be vigilant about getting enough energy-efficient calories, vitamins and other foods constituents that provide energy.

Athletes must take more calories than the ordinary individual because they have to do more physical exertion, which needs a high degree of energy. The fundamental objectives of athlete food plan does not require weight loss ultimately athletes need to eat the extra calories than they eat. In reality, if body muscles have to be build up, the purpose of the athlete’s diet may be to obtain weight.

What 1 calorie really is?

In terms of food science energy is measured as calories. Describing it more technically quantity of energy required to increase 1-degree Celsius of 1 gram water, is termed as 1 calorie. Cells require energy to keep contraction of their muscles repetitive and to promote athletes performance.

How much energy athletes need?

The amount of calories necessary to help an athlete varies based on the BMI of the individual and the complete amount of actions that take place in one day. Approximate daily calorie expenditures of a person ranged from 2,700 to 2,900 calories, for a female from 2,000 to 2,100 calories. Athletes must add all extra calories by eating additional food removed due to workout. For instance an athlete of 160 pound, running 8 mph, in one hour will consume 986 calories. This must be compensated in the diet. The body has to be supplied 500 calories per day only for muscles.

Each individual’s calorie intake needs to be specific

As every person’s body characteristics and energy consumption are distinct, so a highly specific calorie consumption for each individual has to be organized. However, an athlete requires the amount of calories at least 3,000 to 4,000 a day, it can be a more or less sometimes. For example, an Olympic Gold Medalist, was known to utilize 12,000 calories a day. Although this amount is 9,500 more than the suggested figures for working youthful people by the Food and Drug Administration.

As path to good health is distinct for everybody. The quantity of meals that athletes need are subjected to their height, age, weight and activity. Generally, the amount of calories that you consume each day needs to alter. As we know that normal individuals need 1,500 to 2,000 calories per day but for athletes increase in total calories could be from 500 to 1,000 calories.

There are different sources of calories. Carbohydrates, proteins and fats are the main kinds of calorie sources. Calories from individual food constituents should be taken into account, in relation to complete calories.

For this purpose given under are calorie compositions of each individual constituent required for athletes.

Carbohydrates as chief calorie provider

Carbohydrates are best for them because carbohydrates are the most rapid fuel for burning calories. Cells in the body readily use carbohydrates as energy. However, it is not easy to store carbohydrates. A glycogen molecule which is made up of twisted sugar units is the only type of carbohydrate the body can store up. The body utilize protein and fat for energy after consuming glycogen and other carbohydrates. Proteins and fats are a little more inefficient as they take more energy and long time to transform them into usable type of energy.

Carbohydrates must be included in athletes’ calorie consumption, particularly for athletic activities, because carb burns (give energy) rapidly. Carbohydrate charging approach increase the quantity of carbohydrates three days before the case by up to 70 per cent of complete calories. It is estimated that 500 g of carbohydrates a day is required by an athlete based on a 3,000-calorie intake. However, certain fat levels are always used to supply the body with energy. Approximately half of the complete energy spend is acquired from the consumption of carbohydrate in an adequate exercise. To keep on the metabolism of carbohydrates instead of fats it’s very important to take carbs in high levels.

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Fat contribution in calorie requirement

Fat is also a significant calorie provider. It’s the primary source of energy where energy is required in tiny quantities. Being an athlete don’t substitute carbohydrates for fats. Fat should not exceed 30% of your calories daily.

Always choose unsaturated fats. This is much healthier than saturated fat and trans fat. There can be issues in health if too much fat are utilized. The threat of cardiac issue and diabetes can be increased because fats can increase LDL.

How Much Protein Do Athletes Need

How much protein do athletes need?

Protein should make up 10-15% of your calories daily. In foods eggs, milk, seeds, meat and beans, proteins are present. Some athletes believe that big quantities of protein must be consumed. While protein helps build muscle, but higher quantities provides great mass. Too much protein can damage your health over moment.

Proteins build tissue. Sportsmen who want to build up their muscles sometimes eat a high protein diet during strength training. Athletes with clear strength training, such as weightlifting, but also athletes wishing to repair or prevent ripped muscles are included. There is a questionable value of a high protein diet. Athletes have a more protein-driven diet than others.

According to a 2016 research study published in Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics by Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine recommends 1.2 to 2.0 g/kg/day protein intake to support all metabolic adaptation, repair, remodeling etc. The study also suggests that protein intake goals should be met with a effective diet plan that enables athletes to spread small portions of protein across the day and following strenuous workout/training sessions.

In a latest study “Dietary Protein for Training Adaptation and Body Composition Manipulation in Track and Field Athletes” published in march 2019, led by a sports scientist at the University of Stirling features the advantages of quality protein intake over and above requirements set out in various countries at ∼0.8–1.0 g/kg/day for training, adaptation, manipulating body composition, and optimizing performance in track and field athletes. This study also suggests a protein intakes of ∼1.6 g/kg/day for the goal of weight maintenance or weight gain. The study outlines that optimal protein intakes can also exceed 1.6 g/kg/day for athletes who are reducing calorie intake and attempting to minimize loss of lean muscles.

Journal Reference:

General Caloric Calculations

  • To calculate calorie requirement of a 220 pound athlete, multiply weight by 10: 220 x 10 = 2,200 calories
  • For main activities multiply above calories with 20% or 30% then add up: 2,200 x 1.2 or 1.3 = 2,640 – 2,860 calories
  • Add 100 calories for each 10 minutes of intense workout or hard exercises to add exercise calories. This instance shows an extra 1,800 calories when an individual is doing workout for three hours (including sports practice, lifting and cross-training). 2,640 – 2,860 + 1,800 = average 4,400 – 4,660 calories a day

Some advices

Athletes have to remain in form with lots of energy and nutrients. They may not have sufficient energy without the calories of carbs, fat and protein. Lack of food may also contribute to malnutrition. Calculate BMR to find out the calories level.

Get medical assistance when you and your trainer believe weight loss. Before creating significant nutritional modifications, speak to your physician.

Where to get Carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates supply energy. When the body needs more energy, complex carbonic hydrates-starch-are stored as glycogen in the body, and converted to glucose. Glycogen is a slow release of energy. For endurance in the last stage of the show, carbohydrates are helpful for athletes. So marathon runners can eat lots of foods like pasta, for example, within a week before the race. This helps them carry on to the end of the competition.

Carbohydrates foods include pasta, bread, pulp, cereals, rice, fruit, vegetables and (dried beans and poultry). In dairy products, like milk and yogurt and foods with additional sugar, small quantities of carbohydrates are found.

Carbohydrates are important for maintaining blood glucose levels and replacing muscle glycogen during exercise. Athletes are recommended to weigh 6 to 10 g/kg per day. The amount required depends on total daily energy, the type of exercise you do, your gender and the environment. Multiply your total daily carbohydrates (6-10 g/kg per day) by body weight to calculate your total daily need.

You can find out how your personal needs are as a sport dietitian.

  1. The carbohydrate storage in your body is very small and needs regular refilling every 4 to 5 hours (particularly when exercising daily or twice a day). Follow this strategy for high intakes of carbohydrates: high carbon foods should be at the top of your priority as a food and snacks and should fill most of your plate space.
  2. Also remember that vegetables and salads are good sources, but they do not contribute greatly in carbohydrates. Ensure that you have your main food as pasta, rice, potatoes or beans.
  3. A sports dietitian can help you plan a diet to meet your needs if you have very high carbohydrate requirements.

The most people keep their diet balance, but athletes may have certain dietary needs than normal ones. It reflects the equation of personal balance of energy. When people get more active and engage in exercise, they use more energy to restore their energy balance. Athletes change their diets according to their training and performance schedule.

How to calculate your total daily calorie needs

How do you calculate caloric expenditure?

Athletes need about 2500 calories per day on average, while women need about 2,000. Intensive athletes can increase this to about 5,000 calories per day.

The following equations can be used to calculate how much energy is required for the body:

Harris Benedict equation

Total Energy Expenditure (TEE) = Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) x Physical Activity Level (PAL)

PAL Values:

  • Sedentary or light activity: 1.40-1.69
  • Active or moderately active: 1.70-1.99
  • Vigorous or vigorously active: 2.00-2.40

PAL or physical activity level is the energy required to perform every activity (e.g. exercise or day to work). A great athlete will have a higher BMR-like rugby attacker. Runners or skiers are expected to have higher PAL.

  • If you want to lose fat, use a caloric deficit of 20%, that is your caloric intake would be 80% of Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE).
  • To gain lean muscle mass, you need to consume 100-300 calories above your Total Daily Energy Expenditure.

When athletes should eat?

The diets may vary by day or a competition schedule, according to the training program. An elite rower, for example, can eat two breakfasts–one before and one after training. During long matches, tennis players often eat bananas. Usually, two hours before game, athletes do not eat.


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