By Monique Richard MS, RDN, LDN
Fall is here and along with everything pumpkin and back-to-school, so are fall sports. Soccer, basketball, football and winter sports may be colliding in your household while simultaneously in full swing. Get your game on by starting with good nutrition.
Whether you are an athlete, a workout guru, or plan to be both this fall, you understand the impact that diet has on your performance, endurance, and recovery. You know nutrition can improve outcomes but did you know it can also:
• Help you train longer and at a higher intensity
• Delay the onset of fatigue
• Promote recovery
• Help your body adapt to workouts
• Improve body composition and strength
• Enhance concentration
• Help maintain healthy immune function
• Reduce the chance of injury
• Reduce the risk of heat cramps and stomach aches
Read up for some general pre- and post-workout needs and schedule an appointment with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) for information regarding your specific needs related to sports nutrition.
During the pre-workout/game, making sure your glucose stores are stocked and your muscles are fueled will ensure ATP (energy molecule) to be produced while you are burning up that glucose and in need of more.
• Choose a carbohydrate-rich snack or meal before exercise to top off muscle stores (glycogen). Liquid meal replacements may be a better option if you have pre-game jitters.
• Include small amounts of protein. Protein helps build and repair muscle tissue and may help reduce post-exercise muscle soreness.
• Choose meals and snack items that are low in fat and have a low glycemic index to ensure optimal digestion.
Sample foods & fluids (remember hydration is as critical as nutrition) 3–4 Hours Before
• Peanut butter and honey on toast + instant breakfast drink
• Fruit and yogurt smoothie + low-fat granola
• Oatmeal with brown sugar and almonds + skim milk+ banana
• Low-fat cottage cheese + crackers + fresh grapes
• Lean hamburger on bun with lettuce and tomato + side salad + yogurt-fruit parfait
• Turkey and Swiss sandwich + fruit + sports drink
• Low-fat tuna melt sandwich + fruit cup + fat-free yogurt 30–60 Minutes Before
• Sports drink or water
• Sports gel, sport beans, gummies, raisins, or a sports bar
• Piece of fruit or jam sandwich
During the workout/game the goal is to keep up the carbohydrate
supply and hydration for energy and muscle fuel.
•Sports drinks with carbohydrate and electrolytes.
•Easily digested carbohydrate-rich foods during endurance events like:
a banana, bread or roll with jam or honey, sports foods (gels, gummy
chews, raisins), or bite-sized pieces of low-fat granola or sports bars.
After the game or workout it is important to restore fluid and electrolytes (sodium and potassium) lost in sweat and replace muscle fuel (carbohydrate) utilized during practice.
• Provide protein to aid in repair of damaged muscle tissue and help formation of new tissue.
• Begin nutrition recovery with a snack or meal within 15-60 minutes following practice or competition to restore glucose and glycogen stores.
Recovery Snack Ideas
• Smoothie made with yogurt and frozen berries
• Sports drink (carbohydrate, electrolyte, fluid) + sport bar (carbohydrate, protein)
• Graham crackers with peanut butter + low-fat chocolate milk + banana
Recovery Meal Ideas
• Whole wheat pita sandwich with turkey and veggies + pretzels + low-fat milk
• Rice bowl with beans, cheese, salsa, avocado + whole grain tortilla chips or whole wheat tortilla
• Stir fry with lean steak, broccoli, bell peppers, carrots + brown rice
Bottom Line: By improving your overall nutrition with balanced meals and a variety of food from healthy sources of carbohydrate, protein, and fat you will be a stronger force to be reckoned with. Three adequate, nutrient dense meals, snacks and hydration at the right time will enhance your performance and up your game.
Adapted from the Sports, Cardiovascular, and Wellness Nutrition (SCAN) Dietetic Practice Group from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2009.
State of Franklin Healthcare Associates