Big Data Numbers and Analysis of Athletic Diets

Hannah Williams has been following our Sports Techie community blog for quite some time now and shared the recently published Infographic “Athletic Diets : The Numbers” researched by Nursing School Rankings. Diets are a popular and progressive topic that can be controversial. That’s probably even more so when it comes to athletes all over the world and what they eat locally and while away at competitions. This Infographic provides some diet and health related statistics, both general and for athletes, with an emphasis on those that competed in the 2012 London Olympics. Most of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Athletes will be monitoring and maximizing their diets using sports technology solutions and smartphone or tablet apps to help eat right and win medals.

Athletic Diets

Here’s the link:

The Skinny on Athletic Diets INFOGRAPHIC
The Skinny on Athletic Diets INFOGRAPHIC

Athletic Diets Infographic Analysis

The USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) has guidelines for caloric intake for active men and women. Athletes in tremendous shape are able to use their high metabolism to simple burn calories at ten times the amount of the average person while doing almost nothing but moving the remote control or using their mobile devices as they watch their favorite sport events, games and training programs.

The dietary data regarding the 2012 London Olympic Games offers some compelling stats to consider. Soft drink and fast food giants Coca-Cola and McDonald’s have sponsored the Olympics since 1928 and 1976 respectively. Over 10,000 athletes from 206 countries competed and ate throughout the UK. Basketball players were the heaviest and cyclists are the leanest athletes. The average weight per Olympic athlete was 160.27 pounds or 72.85 kilograms.

The USADA (US Anti-Doping Agency) provides an “optimal dietary intake guide” for athletes. Carbohydrates make up at least half of the daily consumed calories. Foods low in fat and high in protein are critical for enhanced athletic performances. Burning your bodies fat more efficiently is a direct result of maintaining an advanced fitness level.

My athletic Mother and Grandmother to our baby son eats a gluten free diet on Doctors order. The Paleo diet restricts consuming refined and processed foods, dairy and certain other restricted edibles. Complex carbs are out for athletes who partake in the Paleo diet meaning no more pizza, mashed potatoes, or cereals and grains. You can eat meat, poultry, eggs, fish, vegetables, fungi, roots and fruit. The key is to remember to place special emphasis on “grass-fed” and “organic” when it comes to non-veg proteins.

There are over 7 million vegetarian in the United States. Vegetarians and vegan athletes have been around since the 1924 Olympics. I have eaten plenty of vegan cuisine and like it. The public stigma associated with veganism is over-blown because the Industry has matured so fast that meatless meat tastes just like the beef, chick and pork you eat while training, practicing and playing in games or other sport and exercise activities. The hardcore vegan will not eat TVP (textured vegetable protein, sometimes used in “mock” deli meat slices) so if you are interested in this dietary path you will need to do same same thing.

The universal Body Mass Index (BMI) is a gauge of overall health. For the average person, BMI can be an indicator of potential for diabetes, cancer and other health issues, while worldwide athletes may be better off measuring their LBM (Lean Body Mass) — which factors in % body fat.

The AICR (American Institute for Cancer Research) has the following BMI ranges for their BMI calculator:

  • Underweight — less than 18.4
  • Normal — 18.5 to 24.9
  • Overweight
    — 25.0 to 29.9
  • Obese — 30.0 and above

Finally, the extremes of athletic dieting today can involve raising your own animals like in China where teams do this to avoid ingesting performance enhancing drugs. Nike says to, “Be Like Mike” in a TV commercial or train like sponsored athlete Usain Bolt, who ate McDonald’s while racing at the Beijing 2008 Olympics to meet his daily calories intake needed as the world’s fastest man. Drinking honey and yes, urine, which supposedly helps detox, seems to also work. Eating chicken as a ritual like many athletes do is actually smart but emulating boxer “Money” Mayweather who eats burgers before boxing matches may not be so intelligent. Of course, you do not ever need to eat 8,000 calories daily like swimmer Mark Phelps did while training for the 2008 Olympics in order to peak for your upcoming triathlon race, soccer match or football game.

Sports Techie, Understanding all the different diets that athletes can follow on a short-term basis, for medical reasons and for dramatic lifestyle changes, will help you become an optimized athlete.

What diets and foods do you like the best as an athlete? Let us know as a blog comment or post your thoughts via our Sports Techie social media network links below.

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