Winning the Day with Nutrition: Tips for Today’s Athletes
Spring is here and that means warmer days, more opportunities to soak up Michigan sunshine, and also spring sports! Whether you’re a soccer player, tennis player, or all-star track athlete, most likely you’ll be participating in all day tournaments this season. Nutrition is important; however, ensuring you’re properly fueling during weekend tournaments is critical for performance, preventing injuries, and staying energized during long bouts of competition. Below are a few quick, simple, and nutritious tips for making the most of game day nutrition.
A good breakfast consists of carbohydrates (cereal, toast, muffin, pancakes, milk) + protein (eggs, yogurt, milk) + water. Breakfasts should be lower in fat and fiber so as not to cause stomach discomfort on top of pre-game jitters. Here are a few possibilities for a winning start to the day:
- Scrambled eggs + whole wheat waffle + low-fat milk
- Smoothie made with low-fat milk + low-fat yogurt + banana + strawberries + spinach
- Toast topped with nut butter + banana
- Oatmeal made with low-fat milk and topped with blueberries
During Games. Hydration during games is especially important to prevent cramping or overheating, The American College of Sports Medicine recommends the following for flowing with fluids:
- For playing time < 60 minutes: 3-8 ounces of water, every 15- 20 minutes.
- For playing time > 60 minutes: 3-8 ounces of a sports beverage, every 15-20 minutes. “Nature’s sports drink”, low-fat chocolate milk, is the perfect beverage on the sidelines.
Between Game Fuel. The key play to fuel properly between games is to load up on nutrients without over eating. Focus on consuming low-fiber and low-fat foods, such as low-fat chocolate milk, to prevent delayed digestion or stomach cramping.
It can be challenging to time snacks or meals between games. If there’s less than 60 minutes between games, athletes should consume mainly carbohydrates followed by fluids to help fuel. 1-2 hours between games allows for a larger snack, or small meal. Choices should consist of mainly carbohydrates with a small amount of protein. Don’t forget to follow with water.
Half time snack ideas or < 60 minutes between games.
- 8 ounces of low-fat chocolate milk
- Banana ( ½ of a banana for young athletes)
- Peeled orange or clementine segments
- Small serving of grapes
- Melon cubes
- Dried fruit
1-2 hours between games.
- Low-fat chocolate milk
- Nut butter sandwich + fruit or vegetable
- Baked potato topped with low-fat Greek yogurt + salsa + shredded chicken
- Bagel + low-fat cream cheese + fruit or vegetable
- Turkey pita sandwich + low-fat glass of milk
- Smoothie made with low-fat Greek yogurt and low-fat milk
Post-game victory. Immediately following the game, celebrate your winnings with a glass of low-fat chocolate milk. It’s a sweet way to raise your glass in honor of a game well played. Chocolate milk refuels with healthy carbohydrates and high quality protein, as well as electrolytes, vitamins, minerals. It also helps to rehydrate, and tastes dairy-licious! Be sure to continue refueling your body with a well-balanced meal a few hours after competition.
Get more information on nature’s sports drink, chocolate milk, and discover sports nutrition tips, and information on healthy living from Registered Dietitian Nutritionists, the experts on nutrition!
Emily Joseph is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She specializes in weight management, sports nutrition, food allergies, and school food service. Along with her love for nutrition, Emily has a huge passion for blogging. She has a personal blog, and also writes for a national fitness center. Her posts can be found on the company’s website, “Fit and Fresh.” Emily resides in the city of Grand Rapids, MI, one of her favorite cities.