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Nutrition basics to take your diet to the next level

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With the holiday season nearly wrapping up, New Year's resolutions are just around the corner. With that in mind, we at NFL Up! thought it would be perfect timing to go over nutrition. We have a basic nutrional walkthrough that should help you stay off the holiday treats or assist in building a new diet for next year.

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Nutrition is one component of a fitness program where many people are often misinformed. Everywhere you turn, you hear or read about someone who has gained or lost 20 pounds in one week. This type of information is misleading and dangerous. As athletes, you must know the facts about diet and dietary habits in order to perform at your optimum level. You cannot run a high-performance race car on kerosene.

Everyone should eat a well-balanced diet. Approximately 60 percent of your daily calories should come from complex carbohydrates, 25 to 30 percent protein and 10 to 15 percent fat. Here are some examples of these three categories.

Complex Carbohydrates

» Breads
» Grain products
» Fruits
» Vegetables
» Pastas

Fats

» Red meats
» Fried Foods
» Bacon
» Ice Cream
» Cheese

Proteins

» Fish
» Poultry
» Bacon
» Meats
» Beans

Timing is Everything

When trying to ingest a larger number of calories, it will be necessary to increase your meal/snack frequency. It takes some planning to schedule and prepare for five to nine meals per day. Eating frequent, smaller mixed meals will ensure a steady supply of calories to the body. This will provide energy, facilitate recovery and maintain elevated levels of amino acids in the blood stream. The presence of elevated levels of amino acids may accelerate uptake and increase protein synthesis.

Studies show that the timing of meals relative to training has a positive impact on the adaptations made by the body. Ingesting sufficient carbohydrate and protein prior to training may help reduce exercise-induced catabolism. A post exercise combination of carbs and protein (in a 3:1 ratio) will assist glycogen storage, increase protein synthesis and augment the hormonal response, which will promote muscle growth.

Experts have come up with specific recommendations regarding the quantities of carbs and protein both before and after strength training and endurance-type exercise. This can certainly be modified to meet individual needs on both training and non-training days.

Ryan Capretta is the founder and director of Proactive Sports Performance and an NFL Up! Fitness Ambassador. Capretta has trained athletes such as Aaron Rodgers, C.J. Spiller, Clay Matthews and Colin Kaepernick.

Looking to get fit? Check out NFL Up! for workouts and tips and the NFL Up! Instagram feed for quick images and videos.

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