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2/29/12 11:31 A

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Katie Jeffrey-Lunn, MS, RD, CSSD, registered dietitian wrote this article for Active..

The balanced plate method is a user-friendly method that does not require you to count grams. It is only a guideline aand as such it may not meet the needs of everyone, but I found it helpful as a starting point.
To maintain energy and health as an athlete, you need to eat a carb-rich meal plan every day. You should consume anywhere from 3 to 5 grams of carbs/pound of body weight. Approximately 55 to 65% of calories should come from carbs. Carbs often get a bad "wrap" from those of us trying to lose weight, but the brain for example, runs only on carbs.
Here's how the balance plate method works:
Visualize a typical lunch or dinner plate. 1/2 to 2/3 of the plate should be carbs, (veggies are carbs too). Nutrient rich carbs are foods minimally processed if processed at all. Examples are: wholegrains, beans and legumes, fruits, starchy veggies, yogurt, and milk.
Calcium is vital for bone health while protein is important for growth, maintainance and repair of muscle tissue. One should have 3 to 4 servings of calcium rich foods daily: 1 cup milk or yogurt, 3/4 cup cottage cheese, 1.5 oz cheese, 3 oz tofu.
The remaining 1/4 to 1/3 of the plate is for lean protein sources like fish, poultry, and meat. Eggs, soybeans, beans, legumes, and peas are also a vegetarian option. Protein sources should be baked, grilled, broiled, or roasted instead of fried. Adults need 3 0z. of animal protein or a plant equivalent at meals to reach their protein needs. 3 oz. is approximately the size of a deck of cards. Plant sources include: tofu, tempeh, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
Eating a serving of non-starchy veggies is a need as well. This might include: broccoli, spinach, carrots, tomatoes, or sweet peppers. These veggies provide a variety of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and fiber.
It is also essential to enjoy 1 to 3 servings of heart-healthy fat at each meal. 1 serving is about 5 grams and 45 calories. This is equivalent to: 1 tsp olive oil, 1/2 tbsp. pumpkin or sunflower seeds, 2 tbsp. avocado. Other healthy fats include: olives, nuts, salmon, Mackeral, tuna, sardines, and Flounder.
A reminder that this is just a starting point. In order to develop the best diet for you personally, you might want to enlist the help of a registered dietitian.


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