Eating for Performance (Basics-Fats)
Today will wrap up the basics of essential macros for performance nutrition.
Just a reminder for those who missed previous posts, this is for athletes eating for performance goals specifically NOT muscle gain, weight loss, or health – just straight up performance.
ESSENTIAL MACROS FOR PERFORMANCE: FATS 🥑🥜🥛
As previously mentioned, after total needed caloric intake has been established, carbohydrate intake is likely the limiting factor in energy for athletes.
Once carbs have been established you will ensure that adequate protein is maintained and hopefully not over-consumed.
This leaves us with the remainder of the calories coming from fats.
👻I have to say it was VERY challenging for me to keep this one simple since fats are farrrrrr from simple. But we will dive deep many moons down the road on advanced fats.
Since the high-performance diet for sport leaves a small amount of wiggle room for fat consumption compared to carbs and protein it is vital to focus on quality fat sources to ensure optimal performance can occur.
Without going crazy on which types of fats and exactly how much of each is ideal (advanced nutrition) I’ll keep it simple and say:
🚨HAVE A BALANCED FATTY ACID MEAL PLAN🚨
1️⃣ Saturated fats – (most animal products/ coconut & palm oils)
2️⃣ Monounsaturated fats – (olive oil, avocado, macadamia nuts)
3️⃣ Polyunsaturated fats- (seeds & most vegetables oils)
It would be very easy to go down rabbit holes of which ones are good/bad/ugly/ etc… at the end of the day for athletes focused on performance (basics)… keep a balanced diet of fats and you will probably be OKAY.
If you log your food and 80% of your daily fat intake is regularly from the same exact food source then maybe raise an eyebrow and get it fixed. (This would typically happen with saturated and polyunsaturated fats). I’ve never encountered an athlete consuming an over abundance of monounsaturated fats on the regular.
It is important for athletes to get the minimum necessary amount of ESSENTIAL fats for these reasons:
1.) Required for normal skin health. ✅
2.) Fat soluble vitamins (A,D,E, & K) must be delivered in a fat package. 💊+🥑+☀️ =✅
3.) Necessary for neural function and growth. 🧠
4.) Improved release of somatotropin (growth hormone). 👍
5.) Reduction of inflammation (unless there is an imbalance). ✅
Higher amounts of omega 3 fatty acids could potentially give the following performance advantages: 🔥🔥
1.) Enhancement of aerobic metabolic processes.
2.) Reduce the ability of red blood cells to congregate (decreasing the change of unwanted blood clots).
On the contrary, too much fat intake is typically associated with REDUCED ATHLETIC performance.
1️⃣ It is very easy to go overboard on fat sources when eating processed foods containing oils.
2️⃣ Excess fat calories can limit the required intake of protein and carbohydrate.
3️⃣ Athletes should note that excess amounts of fat can raise triglycerides and cholesterol levels beyond what would be considered ideal particularly when combined with HIGH AMOUNTS OF CARBOHYDRATES. 🍕🍟🍔 = 😮
^^^ This is usually NOT the case when consuming the same amount of fats on a moderate to low carb diet, which we will discuss in eating for health. High carb does not typically go well with high fat. Carbs and fats are not bros. ❌
When excess fats can help athletic performance: 🤔
1️⃣ When athletes have a hard time sustaining weight even with adequate carb and protein requirements being met (eat more fat). Many times these athletes are called “hard-gainers” or “ectomorphs.”
2️⃣ When athletes need to consume 4,000+ total calories in a day… this can be challenging off primarily carbs and protein. Usually endurance athletes.
Note – doing 4-5 cardio sessions per week does not qualify as an endurance athlete. Endurance athletes are typically 10+ sessions per week and multiple hours per session.
3.) ^ MCT oils could be a great option for “hard-gainers” or athletes who struggle to get in enough total calories because they are easy to consume and can be used strategically for performance aid.
In a nutshell 🥜, I recommend athletes eating for performance to:
1️⃣ Avoid oils, butter, cooking with added fats, and avoid processed foods with added fats when possible.
2️⃣ Get a good portion of the saturated fats from fatty fish like salmon, grass fed meats (better omega 3 balance), or other whole food sources.
3️⃣ Get the remainder of balanced fats from vegetables, nuts (brazil, pecan, walnut, & macadamia), avocados, and hummus (blended sesame seeds).
4️⃣ Avoid HIGH fat meals within 2-3 hours pre workout and 2-3 hours post workout.
This wraps up essential macronutrients for performance (the basics).