Feel like you’re hearing all kinds of nutrition information everywhere? I sure do! It’s on the news, all over Facebook feeds, in magazines, on Instagram… It can be hard to decipher what is real, and what is not! So, I am here to give you science based professional advice that IS real! Nutrition is a tool for you to use. Food can affect your performance positively, or negatively. Let’s work on putting food in to fuel us the right way.
Stay Fueled Up
Now that we have been practicing having snacks and fuel before practices and games, here comes the next step. Topping off your fuel during long practices/games and then re-fueling. I’ll talk to you a bit about why each is important, and provide you with some tips so, hopefully, we’ll have a full tank all of the time!
During: Make a Pit Stop
During competition, we want to keep your energy up the whole game. Gas tanks need a re-fuel after a long drive, your body works the same way. No matter how much you fill up with before, eventually, your tank will start to become emptier after time. You can use up all of your energy stores that you had packed before the game during long hard games.
During competition meals can be a bit of a challenge before it can be hard to consume high quality foods in a pinch. Take advantage when you are off the court as an opportunity to fuel and hydrate. Consume your solid food options in small amounts.
This is most important if you have multiple matches. You will want to consume something every 2-3 hours. Look for the same types of foods that you would consume before practices.
When reaching for foods to top off during a long match, aim for foods that are high in carbohydrates with some protein. Ideal ratio is 4:1 (carbs:protein). Make sure the foods are LOW in fat. Avoid foods like chips, candy, high sugar granola bars, chocolate or soft drinks. You also may need to experiment with which foods work best for you.
If you are working for an hour or less, this step with food is not necessary. However, for any practices/games over an hour, or if you have multiple matches, making a pit stop to fuel up will help restore energy levels.
No matter the length of the practice or game, make sure you have a routine to stay hydrated with small, frequent sips of water. Drink before you are thirsty.
Make sure to pack easy to prepare, quick to eat foods. Especially if you are playing multiple games during the day.
Mid-Fuel Top Offs
· Fruit: bananas, apples, oranges and grapes are easy to grab
· Small energy bar (Cliff Bars are great)
· Energy Chews
· Dried fruit
· Sports drink
· Handful of pretzels
· Healthy granola bars
· Rice cakes with peanut butter
Feeding your body after a practice/game is just as important as beforehand. Many of us don’t understand that muscles undergo some microscopic damage during intense activity. There are hormones that are also elevated with intense exercise. The minute you bring protein into the diet, it suppresses stress hormones and prevents soreness and muscle damage. Muscle-cell repair occurs the quickest within the first two hours after your workout. Eating ASAP will help facilitate maximum muscle-cell repair.
Sure, most of us already do eat after a game because we’ve worked up an appetite. However, what you eat at this meal is important because it helps your body recover more quickly.
This post fuel snack should include fluids, carbohydrates and focused on protein. Ideally, you should be eating a meal within an hour after exercise. If that cannot happen, a snack is appropriate until you can eat a meal. This snack or meal should be 50% protein and 50% carbohydrates. Ideally, you will still be in uniform when enjoying your re-fuel foods.
Re-Fueling Food Ideas
· Peanut butter and jelly sandwich on wheat bread – Easy grab for a quick snack. Protein from the peanut butter and carbs from the bread and jelly are a great way to refuel.
· Chocolate milk - Really! Perfect amount of carbohydrates and protein to refuel tired muscles.
· Whole wheat pita with hummus and veggies
· Yogurt with berries and ¼ cup mixed nuts. Spice it up with cinnamon if you like!
· Green refuel smoothie: 2 scoops of whey protein powder with water, ½ banana and a handful of spinach.
· Tuna sandwich with light mayo on wheat bread
· Turkey slices with thin sliced cheese and apples
· Oatmeal with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and sliced fruit
Don’t forget to re-hydrate! You want to drink at least enough water to replace all of the seat you lost. 16oz is a good goal to aim for.