As July comes to a close, it’s likely you’re starting to gear up for summer training in preparation for your fall sport(s). In this two part blog series we will take a look at the two areas all athletes need to focus on in order to get the most out of their training: Sports Nutrition & Training Regimen. In this post we’ll be focusing on sports nutrition.
First, sports nutrition is a complex matter and in no way will you learn everything you need to know about it through this post. However, our goal is that you’ll take away at least a few of the fundamental basics to ensure you eat healthier and in a manner that stimulates peak performance.
Staying hydrated before, during, and after workouts will quite simply improve your in-game performance. It allows your body to deal with heat, humidity, and fluid loss during exertion. In addition it allows your body to better adapt to rigid exercise routines and assists with recovery. According to the McKinley Health Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign you should drink:
- 1-2 glasses of water when you get up in the morning
- 20 oz. of water or a sports drink two hours before exercise
- 10 oz. of water 20 minutes before exercise
- 10 oz. of water every 10-20 minutes during exercise
- 16-20 oz. of water or a sports drink post-exercise
Water vs. Sports Drinks
According to the McKinley Health Center, water is great for lower intensity exercise lasting 45 minutes or less. Sports drinks are better for higher intensity exercise lasting 45 minutes or more.
It’s important to eat three meals a day. And the old adage of “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” even applies to sports nutrition. Breakfast helps you fuel your body and muscle groups for a day’s worth of activity. When it comes to understanding what to eat, follow this guide:
- Carbohydrates are best for fueling your working muscles for exertion. You’ll want to stick with whole grain carbohydrates and plan to consume around 5.5g per pound of body weight.
- Protein is best for muscle growth and repair. When it comes to choosing protein, a variety of lean proteins will be your best bet. It’s recommended to consume 3 servings of dairy plus one good meat or vegetarian protein source daily.
- Fat is simply fuel, but your body only needs it in moderation. Great sources for fat are nuts, olive oil, avocado, and fish. If you consume a balanced diet, your fat intake will be just fine.
Snacks are essential to any diet and help supplement the energy your body needs in-between meals. In fact, to achieve peak performance the American College of Sports Medicine reported that it is best to consume a variety of snacks in order to consume both glucose and fructose sugars. In their study, cyclists were asked to bike 62-miles. Those who consumed both forms of sugar (glucose and fructose) finished the race 16 minutes faster on average than those who only consumed only one form of sugar (glucose or fructose). And when it comes to snacks, we’re not talking chips. We’re recommending sport approved snacks such as granola bars, fruit, low-fat crackers, dried fruit, fig bars, light popcorn, sport nutrition bars (e.g. Cliff Bars), pretzels, etc.
Looking for more? Download these two guides for additional tips on sports nutrition:
McKinley Health Center’s Sports Nutrition Quick Tips Guide
American Dietetic Association’s Tips for Fueling Athletes
Be sure to check back in a few days when we discuss how to have a healthy exercise regimen.