Nutrition Tips for Athletic Events

With the upcoming Woodside May Day Fun Run & Walk and all of the other fun summer athletic events, I thought this would be a perfect time to talk about sports and nutrition. Below are important nutrition tips for anyone participating in athletic events.

Pre-workout Meals:

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommend eating a meal or snack rich in carbohydrates, moderate in protein, and low in fiber and fat prior to working out. These meals vary based on individual tolerance, body weight, and time before exercise. For example, low-fat yogurt with granola and fruit might work 1-4 hours before exercise, whereas a piece of fruit or sports gel may be better tolerated 30-60 minutes before a workout.

During Exercise:

For workouts under 45 minutes, water is the most important thing to focus on. Once exercise exceeds 45 minutes, 30-60 grams of carbohydrates per hour is needed to maintain adequate muscle fuel. Again, focus on easily digested carbohydrates found in sports nutrition products, bananas, pretzels or gels. Hydration and electrolytes are also essential for prolonged workouts to avoid dehydration.

Post-workout Meals:

Within the first hour of completing a workout, it is important to replace the fuel your muscles used with carbohydrates and include protein to initiate muscle tissue repair and regeneration. For instance, a smoothie with greek yogurt and fruit is a great option and easy to digest. It is also important to replace water and electrolytes that were lost through sweat.

Use training as a way to practice eating routines:

The type of food and timing of meals before, during and after training can affect performance. Individual tolerance to foods can vary and establishing an eating routine prior to the event is essential. Never try a new food or drink before or during an event or race. (May 2018)

Annie Rubin, MS, RDN