As an endurance athlete, you need to eat enough nutrients, like protein, every day to help you build muscle, increase strength, and maintain mental and physical function. And as we age, it’s even more important to increase intake of essential nutrients to maintain muscle health. One way to achieve this goal is through diet coaching.
Evidence: A new study found that middle-aged women who received nutrition education, tailored protein prescriptions, and diet coaching were able to increase their protein intake within 12 weeks.
Kelly Jackson Ph.D., Certified Nurse Practitioner, Principal Investigator and Certified Spin Instructor tells Bicycling she and her colleagues decided to focus on women because “women tend to be underrepresented in research studies due to the simple fact that women have less muscle mass than men.” And the other reason, according to data collected in national health and nutrition surveys, middle-aged women tend to eat an insufficient amount of protein, which Jackson says puts older women at risk. increased risk of muscle loss.
To combat this problem, the group of researchers set out to explore how to help older women increase their protein intake using a prescription that has been shown to be an effective way to protect against muscle loss linked to obesity. age. Here is what happened.
During the first week of Jackson’s study, 53 women, ages 45 to 64, were recruited and divided into two groups: one received diet coaching for 12 weeks and the other did not. The researchers interviewed each participant by phone on three separate days to determine a baseline for their eating habits. And that same week, each participant took baseline tests to assess their grip strength, muscle mass, four-meter walking speed and ability to stand up from a chair unaided with their arms crossed over their chests. .
The second week, everyone met with both a dietitian and Jackson to receive nutrition education and a protein prescription per meal – 0.59 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day, which was adjusted based on an individual’s BMI.
For the remaining 10 weeks of the study, participants in the coached group continued to speak with Jackson one-on-one over the phone to receive dietary coaching which consisted of discussing how much protein they ate at each meal and, if necessary, of the various ways of increasing their intake. . Participants in the uncoached group only received phone calls during the fourth and twelfth weeks of the study.
Ultimately, both groups improved their protein intake, but the coached group ate more protein, especially at breakfast.
So what’s the takeaway?
Although both groups ate more protein at the end of the study, 72% of participants in the coached group increased their intake, compared to only 25% of uncoached participants. Translation: Diet coaching can be a game-changer, especially for a cyclist who needs protein not only to fuel their daily activities, but also to help increase strength, repair muscle, and fuel their workouts. It may also be particularly beneficial for older people at risk of age-related muscle loss.
The study results suggest that diet coaching, nutrition education, and protein prescriptions per meal are effective methods to help you not only increase your intake of muscle-building macronutrients, but also maintain the habit. consume more. If you have a protein deficiency or aren’t sure you’re eating the right amount of protein each day, consider teaming up with a registered dietitian nutritionist to make sure you’re eating enough macronutrients throughout the day.
Benefits of consulting a dietitian
You might think you can manage your fuel needs with little or no help. Or that you’ve covered all your bases by reading nutrition articles and following online social media influencers and experts. But as this study shows, working with an experienced professional like a registered dietitian can help you understand your needs and tell you what you might be missing from your diet to achieve your health and performance goals.
For starters, registered dietitians are trained to help you identify your body’s needs by assessing your activity level, medical history, and personal food preferences. Plus, they’re well-equipped to help you choose different food options to suit your lifestyle and budget.
“A registered dietitian nutritionist assesses the vitamins and minerals regularly consumed in an athlete’s diet and can advise you on which foods to increase to meet micronutrient needs,” says Julie Stefanski, RDN, CSSD, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In this case, a dietitian can help you determine if you are eating enough protein to fuel your workouts, along with other essentials like fiber, carbohydrates, healthy fats, electrolytes, etc., and if not. isn’t, he can help you find different ways to kick it up a notch.
Additionally, teaming up with a registered dietitian can help you identify gaps in your nutrition plan to help improve your overall performance. They can figure out if you need to supplement your diet or just eat more of a certain nutrient and how to do it.
“Many athletes rely on certain foods or beverages as a habit without moving toward things that might better support their performance,” Stefanski says. Dietitians can introduce you to new recipes and help you incorporate more nutrient-dense foods into your diet, such as avocados, cottage cheese, spinach, etc.
Plus, working with a dietitian can help you focus on things you may have forgotten or missed in your diet, like recovery nutrition. Stefanski says what you eat after a workout is important for helping with muscle recovery and growth, bone health and immune support.
Ultimately, according to Stefanski, dietitians can help you:
- Measure the amount of energy and macronutrients needed to meet your basic needs, as well as your training needs
- Calculate how much fluid your body needs throughout the day and during workouts
- Promote healthy eating habits
- Answer any nutritional questions or concerns you may have
How to find an experienced dietitian
When it comes to finding the right person to guide your nutrition, there are a ton of different options to seek out. But be careful who you choose.
“Registered Dietitian Nutritionists are trained to use a diagnostic approach, known as the Nutritional Care Process, when assessing a client. The nutrition care process includes assessment, determining a nutrition diagnosis, intervention, and evaluating an individual’s progress,” says Stefanski.
Additionally, a registered dietitian or dietitian nutritionist must have a bachelor’s degree in the field, complete an internship, pass an exam, and obtain a state license. He therefore has a lot of experience in helping you develop a nutrition plan.
Two of the easiest ways to find a dietitian near you is to visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website or do a Google search to find experts in your area. You can easily find a dietitian (you’ll see the initials RD or RDN after their name) to suit your needs and budget, as some dietitians offer a variety of different services at different prices. Additionally, your appointment with a dietitian may be covered by insurance if you have recently been diagnosed with an injury, such as a stress fracture, or if you have digestive issues.
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