Important Nutrition Guidelines for an Athlete
Nutrition is your secret weapon
If you want your car to run properly, you must fill it with quality gasoline.
The same goes for your body. Eating a quality diet will benefit you in more ways
than you can imagine. You are what you eat.
Develop a habit of eating frequently- Learn HOW TO EAT.
Eating every 3 hours is optimal to maintain the level of energy needed to get through
training, recovery, injuries, and just to keep the tank full. Infrequent eating patterns
(eating 1-3 meals per day) will impact your performance and may cause the body to store
more fat. LEARN HOW to time your meals around your workouts and daily schedule. All it
takes is a little planning. During the school year make sure you have enough food with
you throughout the day, eating a snack 60-90 min. before the after school workouts is
Breakfast is for Champions!
You have heard this phrase a million times. The main concern for an athlete is the fact
that your body burns muscle while you sleep because you have not eaten in 8-12 hours.
Some of you run or have a workout early in the morning and possibly on an empty stomach
(BIG MISTAKE). Skipping breakfast not only causes your body to burn more muscle for
energy, but also increases your chances of overeating later in the day, increasing
your risk for greater fat storage. Eating a breakfast or having a protein shake or a
balanced (30% protein, 30% fat and 40% carbohydrate) breakfast will work to your
advantage. I want you to get into the habit of eating breakfast and your body will remind
you when it is time to eat. (Breakfast suggestions: Whole Grain Cereal, Oatmeal,
Whole grain bread with Nutella or Peanut Butter, poached egg or scrambled eggs, Greek
style yoghurt etc.)
Learn how to time your nutrients for greater muscle gains and recovery
The timing of nutrients, especially protein and carbohydrates, are extremely important to
repair damaged muscle tissues caused by an intense workout or a long endurance run. Having
a combination of protein and carbs immediately post workout can improve muscle recovery
by 250% as opposed to not eating soon after a workout. After a workout, you need sugar
(50-100g) and protein (40-50g).
Be smart about Nutrition Supplementations.
Low blood ferritin and iron is a common cause for poor performances in young women runners.
Eating red meat and foods high in Iron (FE) is critical. I recommend that all young women
have their iron levels checked periodically and supplement with iron if they have low
ferritin and iron levels. Absorption is very important therefore you must avoid all
foods containing caffeine.
Have a plan in place to achieve success with good nutrition
Athletes who have a good quality diet have a plan in place to achieve their goals. Planning
involves: having healthy foods in your house, packed in your school lunches, bringing quality
snacks to school. Fresh Fruit, protein snacks such as almonds, cheese sticks and whole grain
crackers are all good choices.
Be smart when dining out, particularly Fast Food restaurants.
A good day of eating can be lost by eating one meal at McDonalds! (I find it very ironic that
McDonalds is one of the Olympic Sponsors!) It is best to avoid fast food, however if this is
the only option you have there are ways to make the best of a bad situation: avoid the mayo,
avoid shakes and desserts, down size and order the Kids Meal size, order grilled instead of
fried, order salad, drink water and pass on the soda. When you get the chance, chase all the
bad food down with a healthy fruit or vegetable snack.
Especially during the summer months, humid climates (Florida, Texas) where you lose more
fluids from sweating, or dry climates like Colorado. Hydration is critical for the management
of electrolytes. Body temperature, electrolyte balance, and absorption of key vitamins are
altered depending on your hydration status. It is important to go into your workouts hydrated!
Dehydration can significantly impact your performance. Drink at least Ĺ to ľ of your body
weight in daily fluid ounces. For example, if you weigh 100 lbs. you should be drinking up
to 25-50oz. of fluids a day.
Donít underestimate the importance of snacking!
Think of snacking as refueling. What I mean by snacking are the meals in between breakfast,
lunch and dinner. A snack could consist of a handful of nuts, a PP&J or Nutella Sandwich,
fresh fruit such as an apple or an orange. Remember how beneficial it is to eat every 3-4
hours. A quality snack will help you achieve this. Referring back to the CAR ANALOGY... you
cannot expect your gas tank to remain full for 6-8 hours of driving so refill it every 4
hours with a meal or snack.