To maintain your energy and health as an athlete, you need to eat a carbohydrate-rich meal plan every day. Depending on your sport and workout routine, you should consume anywhere from 3 to 5 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight. Approximately 55 to 65 percent of your calories should come from carbohydrates.
How can you determine the amount of carbohydrates you need? One way to estimate is the Balanced Plate method. This is a practical and easy-to-use technique that shows you how to build a balanced, nutritious meal to support your energy needs.
Here's how the Balanced Plate method works:
Visualize a typical lunch or dinner plate. Half or 2/3 of your plate should be carbohydrates (Remember: Veggies are carbs too).
Nutrient-rich carbohydrates are foods that have been minimally processed or are not processed at all. Therefore, they contain greater amounts of their naturally present nutrients. A wide variety of foods fit into the nutrient-rich carbohydrate category such as:
- Whole grains
- Beans and legumes
- Starchy vegetables
More: Why Are Carbs Important?
Whole grains, beans, and legumes are great sources of not only carbohydrates, but also fiber and protein. Additionally, they are packed with health-promoting nutrients such as iron. Fruits and starchy vegetables are also carbohydrate-rich, full of fiber and contain antioxidants which help protect the body against harmful unstable molecules.
Calcium is vital for bone health while protein is important for the growth, maintenance and repair of muscle tissue. Enjoy three to four servings of calcium-rich foods or beverages daily.
One serving is equivalent to:
- 1 cup of milk or yogurt
- 3/4 cup cottage cheese
- 1.5 oz. cheese
- 3 oz. tofu