June 8, 2005
Healthy Weight Gain
Athletes: Eat up to bulk up, but choose the right foods
Editor's note: In this weekly column, Atlanta registered dietitian and Georgia State University nutrition instructor Chris Rosenbloom offers advice on how to maintain a healthy diet and active lifestyle. And she's prepared to answer your questions as well — whether you're trying to shed pounds, lower your cholesterol, fuel yourself to excel at your favorite sport or simply eat better and live longer.
Summer is a time when most people think about losing weight. But there is a group of young people trying to gain weight this summer: high school athletes.
Young athletes are poring over muscle and fitness magazines and cruising the aisles of health food stores in search of the magic pill, powder or potion that will put the pounds on for football, basketball or soccer season.
Gaining weight is not as easy as it seems, although many of you might argue that point. Athletes need to do three things for weight gain: Eat more, eat smart, and do progressive resistance exercise or lift weights.
•Eat more: This sounds simple, but the volume of food needed for weight gain can tire the jaws of most athletes. One way to increase calorie intake is to choose calorie-dense foods; that is, foods that pack a lot of calories into a small volume, such as nuts and dried fruit.
Milkshakes, smoothies and fruit juice also can contribute to calories. I once analyzed the food record of an athlete who consumed 2,000 calories a day from fruit juice! Keep in mind that grape and cranberry-apple have more calories than apple or orange juice.
Peanut butter or other nut butters are good choices for sandwiches and for topping toast or bagels, or add a slice of avocado to a sandwich or tortilla to increase healthy calories.
Use zero-trans-fat margarine on potatoes, vegetables and breads; low-fat sour cream on baked potatoes or chicken quesadillas; and olive oil and Parmesan cheese on bread.
Choose higher-calorie vegetables, too. Potatoes, beans, corn and peas have more calories than salad greens and broccoli.
Aim for an additional 500 calories each day during the summer and eat six times a day.
•Eat smart: Time your food intake to match your exercise. Most high school athletes who are trying to gain weight work out twice a day, so provide your muscles with fuel to stimulate growth.
Research suggests that eating a carbohydrate-and-protein snack before exercise provides muscles with the growth stimulation they need. The combination of carbohydrate and protein will provide the nutrients needed to repair muscles after a hard workout and help strengthen muscle.
Most athletes think protein is the king nutrient — but I think calories are king and protein is a prince. Protein is important but is not the only nutrient critical to building muscle; the calories provide the energy needed to increase weight. Carbohydrate-plus-protein food choices include low-fat chocolate milk, a hard-boiled egg with toast, turkey on a bagel, and plain yogurt with added fruit.
•Weight training: Eating all the food in the refrigerator won't increase muscle mass unless you stimulate your muscles to get big. That only happens with weight training. Find a professional certified strength and conditioning specialist to set up a summer coaching program tailored to you and your sport, suggests Scott McDonald, CSCS, an assistant player-development coach for the Georgia Tech Athletic Association. "Don't let your friends train you, but work with a certified professional to get the most out of your summer workouts."
500-CALORIE SNACKS OR MINI-MEALS
2 Nature Valley peanut butter granola bars
12 ounces low-fat milk
1 packet instant cinnamon and spice oatmeal, mixed with water, per directions
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped almonds
2 ounces Swiss cheese
3 ounces turkey breast
8 ounces Boost high-protein vanilla shake
2 oatmeal cookies
1 cup instant chocolate pudding prepared with low-fat milk
Banana nut muffin
1 1/2 cups chunky beef soup
1/2 cup canned corn, drained (add to soup)
Small corn muffin
•Chris Rosenbloom, Ph.D., R.D., is a member of the nutrition faculty in the College of Health and Human Sciences at Georgia State University. She'll answer nutrition questions of general interest at email@example.com. Or send your questions to her c/o The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Eighth Floor, 72 Marietta St. N.W., Atlanta, GA 30303.
Posted by Lisa at June 8, 2005 10:39 AM
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