Do you want to maximize your athletic performance and feel your best?! Fueling your body pre and post workout is crucial for performance and recovery. It is not a one size fits all formula, but there are a few basics for everyone to keep in mind. It really is all about small changes for long term results, and fueling your body specific to YOU- no cookie cutter one size fits all plan- but instead figuring out what works around your schedule, for your body, metabolism, training, etc. Most importantly you really cannot out exercise a poor diet! Overall, performance comes down to not only diet, but lifestyle factors as well! My name is Melissa Conover, and as a nutritionist, I am committed to working with you on tips for how to make you the best athlete you can be. Here are some of the basics to get you started in maximizing your performance:
Tip #1: Think of Food as Fuel
Pre and post workout meals are important in ensuring adequate performance, I am sure you have heard that before- be sure to incorporate ALL food groups including lean protein, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, dairy, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds- but timing of meals can make a difference as well as the amount, and ratio of each food group!
Pre-workout (About 45 min. to max 3 hrs before):
Focus on carbohydrates (ex: grains, fruit, honey) with a small amount of protein (ex: chicken, eggs, peanut butter). It shouldn't be too heavy of a meal, especially closer to 45 minutes out.
Example meal- Banana and peanut butter, yogurt and fruit, rice cake and almond butter, hard boiled egg and a Clementine, oatmeal and a few nuts, 1/2 c grapes and 10 almonds
Stay Hydrated! Long periods of endurance training will require more carbohydrates, and may even require some refueling with simple carbohydrate sources during the workout.
Immediate post workout snack:
Focus on simple carbohydrate such as a small piece of fruit until you get your actual meal in- there are also some supplements that can help recovery (see tip 2 for more on this)
Post-workout (1 hr. to max 2 hrs):
You want to focus on protein (aim for minimum 25 grams). Additionally, now is when you can add in some healthy fats, and grains.
Example meal: 3-4 oz grilled chicken breast, 1/2 sweet potato, 1/2 c spinach and 1/3 of an avocado.
Tip #2: Think of Supplementation as an Insurance Plan
DID YOU KNOW the FDA does not regulate supplements?! Some supplement companies have been getting in trouble for putting false claims on labels- so no matter what you have to be careful which supplements you choose- you can contact me to figure out which are safe for you to use as an athlete and how to actually tell which are credible companies, and also to help filter through which supplements can benefit you and which are just a money waster!
While I always promote food first, the right supplements can be a back-up to fill in any nutritional gaps for optimal health. For example, if you do not eat 2-3 servings of fatty fish per week, a fish oil supplement can be beneficial for you. A multivitamin and probiotics are also great to fill in those nutritional gaps and get your gut health back on track. For athletic performance, amino acids can be helpful for performance and recovery, and can be consumed before, during, and after workouts! Depending on your specific needs, you may also need protein, calcium, etc. for your specific needs and goals.
Tip #3: Hydration is Key
Hydration is extremely important in addition to diet, and specific needs for athletes depends on the variability in sweat rates for each person. Before working out, ensure you are hydrated. A good way to calculate how much you need to rehydrate is to weigh yourself before working out. Then after your workout, weigh yourself again. Typically, any "weight loss" in that time is actually water loss- so that is how much you need to rehydrate. Every 2.2 pounds lost is generally about 1 liter.
Tip #4: Reset to Maximize Recovery
Sleep is crucial! You recover in your sleep, and an adequate amount of sleep can help prevent soreness so you are ready to crush your next workout! Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
Overall, it is a bit of a balancing act, and sometimes getting in an adequate amount of nutrition requires some planning. These are some basic and crucial ways to maximize your performance, whether you are a beginning in the gym, to an athlete- to take you one step forward. So, next time you head to your gym, school, or stadium, make sure you’ve fueled your body with the right foods that will give you the energy you need, you are hydrated, and fully rested. Visit my Level Up Sports profile, and contact me at [email protected] for a consultation to figure out your INDIVIDUAL needs to see lasting results and maximize your athletic performance!