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Lauren Antonucci, MS, RDN, CSSD, CDE, CDN
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Lauren Antonucci, MS, RDN, CSSD, CDE, CDN
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Fall Fueling for Athletes, Marathoners...and Mere Mortals!
's fall, which means shorter days and cooler weather. It also means something else -- most of us unknowingly start eating more. Perhaps we eat more simply because swimsuit season is over, and we can now hide
amongst layers of clothes. It might be because we crave warmer comfort food as the temperature plummets. Whatever the reason(s), how we eat factors in to how we function, and in sport, the food we consume continues to fuel us during training and into competition. So, as we fall into fall sports - football, soccer, and swimming and the like- plus marathon season, let's lock in on how we can fuel to perform at OUR highest level!
Nutrition and training are the two most important factors determining performance on competition day. Most athletes spend many hours per week training, planning, and preparing their training sessions, but how much time
do you spend on your
plan? Runners have chosen their target race and other athletes know when key game/race days are, so the training plan can be dialed in.
So, what is your game/race day nutrition strategy?
What is your plan for staying hydrated within that?
If you haven't given those two questions much thought, you're missing a key opportunity to improve your performance and recovery. We are sure you are well aware that it is important to stay properly hydrated by consuming water and various water containing foods, to ensure optimal metabolic function. It becomes even more critical during sport, and often becomes an overlooked aspect of training at this time of the year. As the fall brings cooler temperatures, sweat rates decrease (as long as we don't overdress!), and drinking water is not as sought after compared to the rigors of summer when it is hotter. Yes, the temperature is dipping, but the importance of staying hydrated does not.
Consuming a balanced meal containing carbohydrates, proteins, and fats - about 1-3 hours before training/competition - is your first nutritional goal. You certainly don't have to "carb load" on a huge meal at this point. In fact, that could be counterproductive. Rather, the idea here is to find meals that are easy on your stomach, help you feel energized, and maintain your blood sugar. Carbohydrate recommendations pre-race or competition range from 1-4 grams/kg body weight depending on time you eat. As always in nutrition and training, these ranges should be modified according to the individual tolerance of the athlete, their training needs, and feedback from their training routine. Here are general guidelines to get you started;
- 1-2 g/kg bodyweight -- 1-2 hours before
- Good choices include bread, bagels, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, pasta, crackers, energy bars and sports drinks
- 1 ounce per 10 pounds of bodyweight
- Examples = 12 oz for 120# athlete, 16 oz for 160# athlete
Sports drinks containing 6-8% carbohydrate are beneficial for exercise lasting longer than 1 hour or very intense workouts. For long workouts, games, or marathon events, athletes are advised to consume approximately 30-60 grams of carbohydrate/hour for events up to 2-4 hours, or even 60-90 grams of carbs/hr for long events (as practiced and as tolerated). Sports drinks can offer a substantial benefit for athletes who exercise in the morning after a full night's rest where liver glycogen levels are low. Supplementing carbohydrates during this type of exercise will also benefit athletes who have not eaten a pre-exercise meal. Practice with sports drinks + adding energy gels and/or sports chews...or even pieces of bananas during long training sessions to see how your gut will tolerate them. Remember, 'Nothing new on race day" can only be carried out if you have practiced your plan in training!
The goal is to restore muscle and liver glycogen between training sessions or after the competition is over. The carbohydrates help fuel before and during physical activity, but also play an important role in the recovery phase. Post-workout nutrition requires two things: protein to repair broken down muscle tissues and protein synthesis, and carbohydrates to replace muscle glycogen. Aim to consume both within 1-2 hours after a training event or competition:
- Most athletes should aim for about 1/2 their body weight in grams of carbs
- Again, great choices include whole grain breads, potatoes, oatmeal, quinoa, pasta, yogurt or other grains/carbs of choice
- 15-25 g (initial meal; within 30 mins)
- Examples include 4 oz fish, red meat or tofu, 2-3 eggs or 6 oz Greek Yogurt
Eating a whole foods meal that meets these requirements is ideal. However, whole foods aren't always practical. Some athletes aren't hungry and some may not have the desire to eat food immediately. In those cases, it's easy to default to a liquid carbohydrate and protein drink, which will be easily digested and generally well tolerated.
To restore fluid balance post exercise, drink 16-24 oz of fluid for every pound lost due to sweat. Eating salty foods will also help replenish the sweat lost during exercise and restore electrolyte balance.
instead of waiting until you are behind and then trying to play catch up, get proactive and stay ahead of your hydration by following these key steps:
PRACTICAL STRATEGIES TO PREVENT DEHYDRATION
- Start drinking water as soon as you wake up.
- Carry a bottle around with you throughout the day.
- Drink water with all meals and snacks
- Have a bottle easily accessible and sip throughout the day.
- Rely on sports drinks during high-intensity practices.
- Replace electrolytes lost through sweat by salting your food at meals before and after workouts and competitions.
- Monitor your urine color and volume (as discussed in previous newsletters:
- Take our Sweat Test!
Consistently meeting hydration needs can be a considerable challenge at any time of the year. Be sure to monitor your fluid intake and urine output (at least frequency and color) throughout the changing seasons.
When you're making smarter fueling choices, you may notice you're not as sore after more intense practices or that your immune system seems stronger. As stated above, the process of fueling properly before, during, and after practices helps rebuild torn muscle fibers that result from intense workouts. Great training and luck with genetics may get you far in the world of athletes, but making nutrition and hydration a priority will ensure you reach your full potential.
Yours in fueling,
-The Nutrition Energy Team
*Karp, J. R., Johnston, J. D., Tecklenburg, S., Mickleborough, T. D., Fly, A. D., & Stager, J. M. (2006). Chocolate Milk as a Post-Exercise Recovery Aid.
International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism,16
(1), 78-91. doi:10.1123/ijsnem.16.1.78
**Rosenbloom, C. A. (2012).
Sports nutrition: A practice manual for professionals
. Chicago, Ill: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
The start of fall weather and back to school, (read busier schedules and change of foods we crave), are getting us in the mood for more eggs, fall veggies, more lentils and the beginning of soup and stew season. As always, we try to provide you with quick, easy healthy and tasty recipes you can enjoy yourself and share with family and friends. Here are a few of our current favorites-please try them and let us know what you think!
Egg Breakfast "Muffins"
makes 6 muffins; 1 serving= 1 ½ muffin
These egg breakfast muffins are an easy grab and go option for busy mornings or an afternoon snack. The protein packed egg combined with the fresh peppers and greens make this a well-balanced and nutritious snack. What's best about these muffins is their versatility. Try adding grilled chicken or bacon to enhance the protein content and flavor, or remove the cheese and make them dairy free!
- 1 bell pepper (red, orange, or green)
- 3 spring onions
- 4 cherry tomatoes
- 6 eggs
- 1 cup spinach
- 2 slices of cheddar cheese
- ½ tsp salt
- 4-5 splashes of hot sauce
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- Dice pepper, onion, and tomatoes and place in a mixing bowl
- Wash spinach and lightly chop. Add to the mixing bowl
- Add the eggs and salt, and mix well.
- Optionally, add hot sauce to the mixture; Lightly stir to incorporate.
- Oil the muffin tin with olive oil and pour egg mixture evenly into muffin slots. Top the muffins slots, filled with the egg mixture, with cheese
- Bake for 14-16 minutes or until the tops are firm to touch. Enjoy.
Quinoa Bowls with Avocado (eggs)
2 servings; serving= ½
c quinoa, 1 egg,
The wave of quinoa bowls has arrived! The versatility of them is what makes them enjoyable for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. This one in particular is loaded with anti-inflammatory foods: olive oil, avocado and tomatoes. Also, it is packed with fiber, protein, and B vitamins, and potassium to fuel you for the day!
Because this recipe is loaded with anti-inflammatory ingredients and foods, this a great dish to eat after a workout. The natural, anti-inflammatory foods help combat the toxins released from the breakdown of your muscles during your workout. Reducing the amount of inflammation allows your muscles to recover and repair faster after an intense exercise session or competition.
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divide
- 1 tsp red wine vinegar
- ¼ tsp kosher salt, divided
- 1 c cooked tricolor quinoa
- 1 c grape tomatoes, halved
- ½ c canned unsalted black beans, rinsed, drained, and warmed
- 2 tbsp chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
- 2 large eggs (hard boiled or poached)
- ½ ripe avocado, slices
- Whisk together 1&1/2 teaspoons oil, vinegar, and dash of salt.
- Combine quinoa, tomatoes, beans, cilantro, and 1/8 teaspoon salt; toss gently to combine. Divide mixture evenly between 2 bowls.
- Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon oil; swirl to coat.
- Crack eggs, 1 at a time, into pan. Cover; cook until whites are set and yolk is still runny, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Drizzle dressing evenly over quinoa mixture; top with eggs and avocado. Sprinkle with remaining dash of salt. Garnish with additional cilantro, if desired.
Curried Lentil and Vegetable Stew
4 servings; serving= 1 ½ c
This vegetarian stew is a quick and easy, nutritious, and delicious meatless dish to assemble. The lentils are packed with carbohydrates, protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, which have been shown to reduce heart disease, lower blood pressure, diabetes, and improve weight loss.
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 (8-oz.) pkg. prechopped yellow onion
- 2 cups chopped zucchini
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 c chopped seeded tomato
- 2 tsp curry powder
- 2 c unsalted vegetable or chicken stock
- 2 tbsp whole-wheat flour
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 1 (17.6-oz.) pkg. steamed cooked lentils (about 2 ½ cups)
- 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
- 2 tbsp plain whole-milk yogurt or Greek-style
- ¼ c chopped fresh cilantro
- Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high. Add onion; sauté 4 minutes.
- Add zucchini and garlic; cook 3 minutes.
- Add tomato, curry powder, and ketchup; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Combine stock and flour in a small bowl. Add stock mixture to pan; bring to a boil.
- Stir in salt and lentils; cook 3 minutes.
- Remove pan from heat; stir in lime juice.
- Divide lentil mixture among 4 bowls; top evenly with yogurt and cilantro.
A Note from Lauren...
Fall is officially here, and yet summer has yet to leave us! It's almost October... and I'm still running in tank tops!
While I love exploring the Farmer's Market for fresh, seasonal produce, the weather is not helping my transition to Fall veggies and fruits. I prefer to combine summer and fall veggies together in yummy sautes. Add some beans or other chopped protein for an all-in-one meal! I love easy dinners especially during the beginning of the school year when everyone is adjusting to new schedules.
For those athletes increasing their training and preparing for upcoming races, remember your nutrition needs will also transition like the weather. Take time to prepare your nutrition plan to ensure your training (and race day!) is focused and effective!
Need some help figuring out your training and race day nutrition plan?
The sports dietitians here at Nutrition Energy can help you navigate the confusing world of bars, gels, hydration needs, recovery nutrition, etc. Have a favorite race day product? Tweet us @NutritionEnergy or let us know on Facebook!
Lauren Antonucci, Director