Calculating Carbohydrate and Protein Needs for Athletes

You see the advertising for protein bars, shakes and supplements, and recognize how carbohydrates provide energy, but how do you accurately determine how much you need in your diet to perform your favorite activities?

Carbohydrates are the main energy source of the body and come from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, milk and yogurt. Protein is the main nutrient for building and repairing tissue in the body and is made up of 20 amino acids, 11 of which the body can make.

Unfortunately the body cannot make nine of those amino acids so it is important you eat foods with those amino acids. Eating a variety of protein sources helps ensure you get the proper combination of essential amino acids.

Main Protein Sources:

  • Beef and milk products
  • Chicken and eggs
  • Turkey
  • Fish
  • Pork
  • Nuts
  • Beans

Carbohydrates provide energy, and protein repairs and builds tissue. If you are participating in an activity that lasts more than 90 minutes, you will need more carbohydrates and less protein. If your activity level lasts less than 90 minutes, you will need fewer carbohydrates. If you are involved in activities that cause a lot of tissue breakdown, then increased protein is needed.

Whether you’re an athlete or working to increase your physical fitness, calculate your macronutrients to help maintain overall health and wellness. To calculate your carbohydrate requirements, speak with a dietitian about your specific nutrition needs based on weight, height, physical activity and any medical conditions you may have. A dietitian can also help you to calculate your protein requirements or other nutrient needs.

Learn more tips from the CDC about maintaining a healthy weight, nutrition and physical activity. If you have more questions or would like to talk with someone about your nutrition needs, please contact our team at Memorial Weight Loss and Wellness Center.

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