When an athlete needs to build muscle, the single most important factor to remember is that it is vital to also increase calories. This can be difficult for an athlete who is trying to shed pounds in order to “make weight” for a competition, or for one who is stuck in a mindset of restricting calories to “cut up” or “lean out”. This is an example of going in two very opposite directions and it is not unusual that the CSNS will need to use some persausive coaching skills to redirect an athlete operating with this type of thinking.
Building muscle requires an intense, rigorous training program. A tremendous amount of energy is required to fuel this type of exercise — energy that is best supplied by carbohydrates. A high carbohydrate diet will allow for the greatest possible recovery of stored muscle glycogen. This type of ongoing replenishment lets muscles work equally hard on successive days of training. Research studies continue to show that high-calorie, high-carbohydrate diets give athletes an edge in their workouts. Ultimately, the bottom line is that the harder your athlete is able to train, the more muscle they will be able to build.
As mentioned, in order to build one pound of muscle, a total of 2500 kcals per week must be added on top of normal food intake values. This means that introducing extra calories into your athlete’s diet will be a new strategy for most sports enthusiasts to acclimate to. Ideally, the specialist should increase caloric intake for the athlete by 500 to 1000 kcals per day. This needs to be done gradually, so that the athlete does not gain fat mass during this time. We suggest that strength trainers and specialists work together during the building phase to introduce only 300 to 350 calories a day in the beginning, as this will help the athlete to make adjustments in their food intake. After the first week (or possibly two), it is recommended to increase caloric intake by 500 calories per day. Be sure to verify that the athlete is not gaining extra weight as fat pounds before introducing the next 1000 kcal increment as part of their daily intake.
In fact, most of the additional kcals consumedshould come from carbohydrate sources — in the form of food and liquid carbohydrate supplements. One example of 1000 calories worth of carbohydrate from food would be 2 cups of pasta, one bagel, and one banana. It really does not take that much additional food to increase carbohydrate intake. It is also important to remember that the athlete will not be eating these items without combining them with other foods from different macronutrient groups as well. Over time, you and the athlete will work to fine tune kcal intake and to combine foods with other macronutrients to enhance muscle building, if in fact, that is the goal.
To eliminate guesswork and to be the most precise as possible, the Sports Nutrition Specialist can match the athlete’s carbohydrate intake to their weight. As an example, an athlete who wants to build muscle mass should take in about 8g of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight each day. If you are working with an athlete who does cross training with strength training, the calculation is closer to 9g of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight each day, if the goal is to build muscular size or mass.
But it can be hard for some athletes to successfully meet increased carbohydrate intake without considering the use of supplements. The use of liquid carbohydrate supplements is a great way to increase the daily intake for your athlete. It also appears to support muscular growth as well.
A Certified Sports Nutrition Specialist (CSNS) can easily create a high carbohydrate diet by using the United States food guide pyramid as a framework or practical tool for meal planning. As you know, the food guide pyramid was developed by the United States Department of Agriculture and includes multiple categories of food within the pyramid: the bread, cereal, rice, and pasta group; the vegetable group; the fruit group; the meat, poultry, fish, dried beans, eggs, and nuts group; the milk, yogurt, and cheese group; and lastly the fats, oils, and sweets group. The pyramid also illustrates very clearly the relative importance of a variety within the various types of food recommended.
Every food group in the US food guide pyramid contains carbohydrate foods. However, because the bread, fruit, and vegetable groups are the richest sources of carbohydrates, those foods are emphasized. Your athletes daily carbohydrate selections should include a variety of carbohydrates from within these groups recommended within the pyramid suggestions.
. Kleiner, Susan M (2006), Power Eating: Energizing workouts, (40-41).