Blue Mountain Hospital registered dietitian Kim Jacobs shared nutrition tips with Prairie City athletes last week.
“Proper nutrition is just as important as training, and I wanted to encourage these athletes to start their season off right,” she said.
She touched on the following topics: training diet, pre- and post-competition nutrition, fluids and traveling.
Following a good nutrition plan results in the ability to train longer and harder, delay fatigue, help the body recover faster after working out and perform much better overall, she said.
Here are the guidelines Jacobs suggests:
For training, follow a diet rich in carbohydrates, moderate in protein and low in fat for optimal training.
Especially during exercise, 55-70 percent of total calories should come from carbohydrates, our body’s preferred source of fuel.
This includes foods such as bread, cereal, rice, pasta, starchy vegetables, fruit, milk, yogurt and beans.
Protein builds and maintains muscle mass and aids in muscle recovery and should account for 12–15 percent of total calories.
Fat is a source of energy during low-intensity activity as well as long-duration activity and should account for less than 30 percent of total calories.
Before an event, athletes will want to choose foods that are rich in carbohydrates, moderate in protein and low in fat, and also easy to digest.
Athletes should also avoid sugary food right before exercise and allow plenty of time for food to digest.
A good rule of thumb on digestion time: three-four hours for a large meal, two-three hours for a smaller meal, 1-2 hours for a snack. Also, always stick to familiar foods and drink plenty of fluids before competition.
She suggests the following:
• Daily: avoid thirst, check urine (light, not dark).
• Two-three hours before activity: 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 cups fluid.
• Every 15 minutes during activity: 3/4 to 1-1/2 cups (3-6 gulps).
• After activity: 2-3 cups for every pound lost.
Jacobs also had eating tips for athletes on the road.
“Snack on wholesome carbohydrate foods about every two hours to keep blood sugars normal,” she said.
She shared a list of high-performance “grab-and-go” foods: yogurt with granola, fresh fruit, whole-grain bagels, pretzels, Fig Newtons, dried fruit, 100 percent fruit juice, graham crackers, rice cakes, string cheese and crackers, peanut butter and crackers, pudding, granola bars, flavored milk, smoothies and animal crackers.