Monday, April 25, 2011

Nutrient Needs

Football currently is a male only sport. The average age for a player in the NFL is 25-28 years old. For linebackers the average age is 25 years old. Linebackers in the NFL typically weight 247lbs on average, which is 30lbs more than the running backs that they tend to tackle the most. Linebackers need the body mass to stop the offense with force. Linebackers also cannot be overweight or else they will never catch up to and tackle the ball carrier that they are trying to stop. Most teams in the NFL practice twice a day for about two hours each time so the nutrient requirements for the players will be even higher than the normal mildly active person that weighs the same. For a linebacker the average caloric intake is around 3800-5700kcals a day and that is based on the player’s weight. Football players used to be able to get whatever without getting in trouble, but that is no longer the case. Now in this day and age athletes and teams have somewhat of a better understanding on how nutrition affects performance. Athletes are monitored closely to see what they eat. A few years back football players and other athletes would run to a fast food burger joint and get lunch, but we now know that eating like that is not conducive to performance. Carbohydrate intake need to make up about 60 percent of a player’s total intake of calories, which on an average diet of 4000 calories totals out to be about 2400 calories of carbohydrates alone. To estimate the carbohydrates in the diet you can add up 10-12 grams per kilogram of body weight. For fat to be determined you use 1.8g/kg of body weight, while protein is 1.2-1.7g/kg of body weight. In a diet of about 4000 calories a day the fat intake should roughly be around 133g which is a caloric intake of 1200kcals. Most of the fat intake should be healthy intake of fat such as olive oil, polyunsaturated fats and others while limiting saturated fats. The daily intake for protein in a 4000 calorie diet 134-190g a day, with a caloric intake of 400-500kcals. Fats should make up 20-30% of the total calories and protein should make up 15-20% of the total calories. Players should try to eat a meal 2-4 hours before their competition or practice and limit themselves on sugar, fat and focus on carbohydrates, which is what they need to provide the energy their body will demand from them for their competition When a player is prepping for a competition or practice that player needs to make sure that they have eaten enough calories to supply their energy needs. It is well known that a high-carbohydrate mean prior to team practice or a competitive event helps “top-off” glycogen stores and ensures adequate blood glucose levels at practice or game time (Fink et al., 2009).  Pre-game meals need to focus on carbohydrates and be about 1-4.5g of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight. The foods the players eat also should be foods that they are familiar with. A player also needs to make sure that they drink enough water throughout the day. After practice an athlete needs to drink 3 cups for every pound lost during exercise to stay hydrated and prevent dehydration and the problems that come with it. Also football players need to watch their sodium intake, because it can lead to other heart problems such as hypertension. Alcohol can also be a problem with players, because their college habits of binge drinking could carry over and they could party a little too hard after a win. High sodium chloride intake strongly predisposes to hypertension. Increased alcohol consumption may acutely elevate blood pressure. High intakes of potassium, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and protein, along with exercise and possibly vitamin D, may reduce blood pressure (Savica et al., 2010). When prepping for the day an athlete should take advantage of a meal plan that they can follow easily and this eat healthy throughout the day. Below is a meal plan that would be a good starting point. An athlete must remember that pre-game meals and snacks must be limited on the fat, sugar, sodium, and fiber for various reasons. Fiber might cause GI discomfort, while fat will make you feel full and sluggish. If a player takes in too much sodium it can make a player thirsty and dehydrate faster. Some good options for a pre-game meal would be something along the lines of waffles and eggs, a turkey or ham sub with little to no mayo, or even some pasta with grilled chicken. After a workout, practice, or competition what an athlete can eat is much more lenient such as steak with rice or pasta, Salmon with potato and vegetables. The athlete can also eat more of what he wants

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