Does your nutrition change based on your activity levels or based on your training days? I recently learned about The Athlete’s Plates, created by the dietitians at The U.S. Olympic Committee. The plates are meant as guidelines and can be modified for your specific nutrition choices. As an athlete, I like that the plates encourage different nutrition depending on activity levels. Athlete’s nutrition is a key factor in performance.

You might be thinking, “I’m not an athlete.” Well, if you exercise consistently, participate in sport, train consistently, are working towards physical goals, you should call yourself an athlete. Sports psychologist and associate professor of athletic coaching at West Virginia University, Kristen Dieffenbach, suggests everyone should consider themselves as athletes. Everyone should recognize that this status is not reserved for individuals who get a paycheck from it. Calling yourself an “athlete” can impact how you perform, how you train, and how you fuel your body.

Physical demands of your practices, exercise sessions, races, etc. differ day to day and your diet should reflect these differences. One¬†way to modify your plate and to maintain performance levels is to listen to your body. This takes practice and can be tricky, especially if exercise decreases your hunger cues or appetite levels. Which, is one of the reasons I like the Athlete’s Plates. It consist of an easy training plate, moderate training plate, and hard training/game day plate. And the moderate training plate is designed to be your baseline plate. Add more or less food to this plate depending on your training levels.

Easy Training Plate – Nutrition for an Easy Day

An easy day may contain a light workout or low-intensity workout. Easy day plates can also be used for those athletes who are trying to lose or manage their weight. Easy plates can also be a guideline for those athletes who are engaged in sports that do not require as much energy.

Easy Training Day Nutrition

Moderate Training Plate – Nutrition Baseline

The moderate plate may a plate you use for days that have higher intensity workouts or if you participate in more than one training session. The moderate plate is also designed to be your baseline. Take notice of the amount of food on the moderate plate and you can use this to adjust up or down, depending on how much energy (calories) you need for the day.

Hard Training Plate – Nutrition for Game Day

A hard day contains an endurance workout, dual practices, or a competition. If your competition requires extra fuel from carbohydrates, the hard training plate is a good one to use. This plate dedicates half of it to grains. This plate supplies you with the energy you need to get through a hard training day and perform at the your best level.

Athlete's Nutrition for Race Day

 

Most of all these plates give you flexibility and guidance. Are they helpful to you? Do you adjust your food intake based on your training days and rest days?

 

For more information on the Athlete’s Plate, click here for a good guide on the Athlete’s Plate.