Optimal nutrition is the key to helping athletes train better and smarter. Here’s how to fuel up at your next meal to power and recover from your next session.
Whether you’re planning ahead with snack or meal ideas, sports nutrition doesn’t need to be complicated to help athletes and active people fuel their busy lives. Proper nutrition is key for feeling energized and focused during workouts, and also helps the body repair muscle, replenish glycogen stores, and supports recovery and rehydration after the workout ends.
Often times, athlete may be under-fueling or missing opportunities to get the most out of their training. Other times, they just need a few tweaks to the timing of their nutrition to get the most out of their meals.
Here are a few nutrition tips to make sure you don’t undermine your training efforts.
If you need fast and simple options to get you out the door in a hurry, oatmeal is a great powerhouse breakfast ingredient. This complex carb offers fuel, fiber, and mild flavor that can swing to the sweet or savory side of the spectrum. Try baked oatmeal, or overnight oats are another convenient option that can also be made ahead of time. Some other ideas include:
- Half of an English muffin with peanut butter and jelly
- Banana with almond butter
- Greek yogurt with frozen fruit and almonds
- Cottage cheese with fresh or frozen fruit
- Avocado toast with nuts or seeds sprinkled on top
- Your favorite granola bar + string cheese or piece of fruit
Snacks offer an opportunity to fuel up if your workout lands long after your last meal. Fiber, fat, and protein are great ways to balance other meals, but can cause gastrointestinal (GI) distress or upset stomachs if consumed right before exercise. Stick to snacks that emphasize carbohydrates for energy, and be sure to hydrate well especially when it’s hot, humid, or you plan for a workout longer than an hour.
Smoothies can be a simple way to fuel up without feeling overly full or bloated – no one likes to feel uncomfortable when they start to move. No blender? No problem. You can also fuel up with super simple, grab-and-go options like fruit (fresh or dried), granola bars or granola, and grains like mini bagels, English muffins, or your favorite version of toast.
Once your workout is over, the tough stuff is just getting started! Recovery and rest is a huge part of training that can be easily overlooked. Recovery meals should be balanced with carbohydrates to refuel, protein to repair, fats and fiber to fill you up, and plenty of vitamins, minerals, and important antioxidants and phytochemical to help combat inflammation and support overall health. Sandwiches and wraps are among the easiest things to refuel with, especially if you can prep parts of the recipe ahead of time.
Plan ahead, and see how nutrition can fuel both your training and your life.
Adapted from the original article.
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Cara Harbstreet, MS, RD, LD is a Kansas City-based Registered Dietitian helping individuals jumpstart their journey to wellness. By breaking the cycle of dieting, Cara focuses on creating sustainable lifestyle changes for people who are motivated to reclaim their health. Connect with Cara over at Street Smart Nutrition.