Fueling Your Passion Ensuring Adequate Nutrition for the Athlete By Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services Team
In this post, please note that another name for sugar is glucose.
Calling all athletes!
Whether you’re running the NYC marathon or your first triathlon, nutrition is an important key to performance excellence. Knowing the best foods to eat before, during, and after you compete is essential for a successful event and, of course, not “bonking out”! Here’s the lowdown for fueling your race.
2 to 3 days before the event:
Consume a meal consisting mostly of carbohydrates, moderate amounts of protein plus some amounts of fat; it’s the most favorable repast for athletes before entering a competition. Eat simple, easy to digest (lower in fiber) carbohydrates such as white bread and pasta approximately two to three days before you compete. Louis Burke, PhD, recommends this lower residue intake to minimize intestinal contents —and therefore prevent the need for bowel movements during the event.1 Eating this way is a key element of running free from bloat and gas during the competition.
This meal focuses on carbohydrates because they are digested faster than protein and fat, thus providing the muscles with adequate glucose (sugar) for glycogen stores (your body’s storage form of glucose). This gives athletes enough energy reserves to maintain higher and longer levels of intensity during the event.2 Adequate glucose storage in the muscles will prevent you from experiencing weakness and fatigue when participating in events requiring extra endurance.
Eating your pre-event meal three to four hours before the game or race is another key element to performing at your very best. A balanced meal will provide you with the maximum available energy you need for competition. Giving your body enough time to digest the meal is key.3
Here are some good examples of pre-competition meals—to be consumed 3 to 4 hours before the event:
Cheerios with low-fat milk and fruit-flavored Greek yogurt with banana
Omelet with cheese and baked hash brown potatoes
White English muffin with avocado and hummus and an applesauce side
Keeping yourself well hydrated both before and during exercise is essential to successful performance. Drinking two cups of fluid (8 oz. per cup) at least two hours before your event can be helpful in preventing dehydration. It’s also important to make sure that you drink another two cups of water for every hour you are competing.5 Preventing dehydration can keep you from feeling fatigued and can prevent your muscles from cramping during your competition. If you’re an athlete participating in an event lasting over an hour, you should also think about electrolyte depletion. Excessive sweating causes you to lose important electrolytes such as sodium and potassium—and can adversely affect your performance. To replace lost electrolytes, consider choosing a sports drink such as Gatorade which will aid in electrolyte repletion and rehydration. Sports drinks usually contain carbohydrates, sodium and potassium. Gatorade (and other sports drinks formulated especially for athletes include water, glucose/sugar and electrolytes) provides the ideal ratio for rehydration and repletion of electrolytes and glycogen stores.6
Recovery foods to consume at your post-event meals are just as important as your pre-event meals. During exercise, your body breaks down its muscle glycogen stores. When your body uses the available glucose in your blood, it needs to switch to reserves. It can quickly break glycogen down into glucose which causes the glycogen stores to become depleted. Due to this breakdown, replenishing your body with carbohydrates is crucial for adequate recovery.7 Make sure you eat enough carbohydrates to restore the glycogen in the muscles that was depleted during the event. Protein will help to repair the muscles that were stressed. Antioxidants are also beneficial at this time; they aid in repairing any free radical damage that occurred during your intense exercise. In general, consuming carbs and proteins within thirty minutes of your workout is ideal for muscle recovery. This muscle recovery period will last for about 30 minutes to four hours post exercise.
Here are some post-event meal ideas to help you recover and prepare for your next workout:
Oat bagel toasted with almond butter and fresh strawberries
Whole grain wrap with grilled chicken, hummus and tricolor peppers
Whole-wheat burrito with white rice, beans and veggies
Grilled salmon and quinoa with steamed squash
Smoothie with low-fat milk, banana, peanut butter, protein powder and wheat germ
Spaghetti and meatballs with spinach
On average, it’s recommended that a female athlete (about 5’4” and 140 lbs.) consume approximately 500 grams of carbohydrates and 76 to 89 grams of protein per day. It’s recommended that a male athlete (about 6’0” and 180 lbs.) consume approximately 700 grams of carbohydrates and 98 to 113 grams of protein per day.7
Providing yourself with the proper energy foods both before and after your competition can make a huge difference in your performance. Eating a low residue, carbohydrate rich diet is important for your pre-event meal while eating within thirty minutes of a competition is crucial for your post-event recovery. What you feed your body both before and after competition can be the most important key for turning an adequate performance in your event into an excellent one!
What do you eat before and after an event? What foods work for your body? Do you have any secrets to your success that you can share with our readers?
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7. The Position Statement from the Dietitians of Canada, the American Dietetic Association, and the American College of Sports Medicine, Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research in the Winter of 2000, 61(4):176-192. Accessed April 13, 2014.
The Hollywood image that’s plastered everywhere—online, on TV, in magazines– is simply not realistic and can be harmful. Yet, it’s what some women and men strive for. They may see how skinny Demi Moore or LeAnn Rimes have gotten and think this is the ideal. I want to remind everyone that most people do not have such bodies naturally! Most people do not have the time or money to focus on their bodies the way the Hollywood stars do. Most people can’t afford a full staff of a dietitian, a trainer, an esthetician, a chef, and a dermatologist…. Plus, celebrities are getting paid A LOT of money to look this way and if they don’t meet the criteria there is always editing and airbrushing to attain the super skinny, youthful look. To meet the Hollywood ideal, most men and women need to restrict their intake to a caloric level that is equivalent with that of an eating disorder. Most stars don’t acknowledge that they have an issue, although Victoria’s Secret model Adriana Lima openly admitted recently that she simply stopped eating solid food 12 whole days before the Angel runway show!
Remember, beauty is from the inside and shines when one is confident from their inner core. There is a great new web site promoting a new definition of beauty – check it out at www.BeautyRedefiend.net/.
Twitter: Yes, I now tweet despite resisting previously. You can follow me at @MomDishesItOut
Collaborating with Experience Wellness Group: Directing their nutrition services and providing Meal Support Therapy two days a week
Sharing expert nutrition advice on a regular basis with Zeel.com
Dabbling in forms of print and online media, including Diabetes Forecast and eHow.com
My gratitude specifically extends to my husband, my children and my parents. With their help I have been able to expand Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services and have had the opportunity to witness my clients’ successful adaptation of moderate nutrition lifestyles.
I look forward to sharing the nutrition message of healthy moderation in parenting, feeding and eating with all of you in 2012. Thank you for your love and support, and continuing to help me spread the message by “liking” my pages on Facebook, sharing my blogs and of course, by living healthily and moderately.