Carbohydrates, protein and fats: The 3,2,1 rule
The meat and potatoes of the podcast (pun intended) is on how you can improve your performance by calculating the right amount of macronutrients you need per day. Little likes to use a really simple 3,2,1 rule which basically states that you should take in 3g per kg of body weight of carbohydrates, 2g/kg protein and 1g/kg fats. This rule suits most people on most days, but on intensive exercise days, this may need to change.
Using the 3,2,1 rule means that for a 70kg athlete, you’re probably looking at 210g carbs, 140g protein, and 70g fat. However when you’re doing a lot of exercise, the recommendations might be higher, especially for carbohydrates. Little goes on to explain that although some studies show up to 10g/kg of carbohydrates might improve performance, these studies are often done with cyclists who not only have different metabolic demands, but are also able to easily consume these extra carbs as a drink or a gel during their sport. In his experience, up to 5 or 6g/kg for footballers is more realistic when the exertion levels have been high.
Little also delved into the most important day of the week for many athletes – match day. When it comes to improving performance, this day is what it’s all about. Little revealed some juicy details as to what pro players are doing on match day. He explained that at the professional level, players will often eat at the club, which means dieticians and chefs can get their heads together to offer the players a carbohydrate-rich meal before the game. These meals might contain more calorie-dense foods, compared to rest days, which would have more of a balanced menu.
“Chefs are the most important personnel to have in your nutrition team – without a good chef you might as well feed them paper you’ve written the meal plan on,” Little said.