Sports Nutrition Review 1-5, Estimating Calorie Intake

Posted by on Feb 4, 2013 in Nutrition, Review Topics | 0 comments

Let’s say you have a large football player approach you wanting to gain a large amount of muscle mass.  At 6’3 230lbs, you go over the player’s daily meals and discover he is consuming 20% protein, 50% carbohydrates, and 30% fat in 3500 calories of food.

What would your recommendation be?

If you said to increase protein, like my initial thought would be…you would be WRONG.

The first priority according to the guidelines in the NSCA book, would be to increase calories.

Activity Level Male kcal/lb Female kcal/lb
Light 17 16
Moderate 19 17
Heavy 23 20

Football is considered a “Heavy” activity level, and thus this athlete with an estimated caloric need of 23*230 = 5290 calories is woefully underfed.

  • Light – Walking 2.5-3mph, garage work, housecleaning, golf, table tennis
  • Moderate – Walking 3.5-4mph, cycling, skiing, tennis, dancing
  • Heavy – Heavy digging, basketball, climbing, football soccer

For the CSCS exam, you should be able to identify if an athlete is underfed.  Either memorize this table or just get a good feel for how much athletes should be eating at different activity levels, and if it seems like too few calories, it probably is.  Know that adequate protein can vary greatly with the activity type, but generally 10-15% is the minimum requirement.  In the above example, since the athlete was consuming 20% protein (considered adequate), but only ~60% of required calories it’s obvious the priority should be on increasing caloric intake.

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