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How athletes should eat part 3

Information provided on the blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or offer treatment plans.

Did you miss part 1 or part 2? Check them out first!

Eating at events that last all day/weekend

It is extremely important for athletes to eat after competing. Their muscles need the proper fuel to recover, and they need enough nourishment to get them ready for the next race/competition. If an athlete competes, with minimal rest, and on the same day, then foods that are high in protein and fat will more than likely still be in the stomach potentially causing stomach or gastrointestinal (GI) distress. Here are some guidelines to help athletes make wise food choices at all day athletic events.

Stick with carbohydrates that are in liquid form, such as sports drinks.

If something solid needs to be eaten, try fruits like oranges, watermelon, cantaloupe, peaches, pears, applesauce, or bananas.

These foods are digested very fast and therefore, will not cause as much of a problem with stomach cramping or GI distress.

Two to Three hours between events or heats

Solid foods in the form of carbohydrates can be eaten, as there is enough time to digest them before competition.

Try eating bagels, hot or cold cereal with nonfat milk, or English muffins along with fruit like bananas, apples, oranges, peaches, or pears

Be sure to drink plenty of fluids, like water or sports drink, for hydration, electrolyte replacement, and restoration of glycogen stores. Avoid drinks that contain caffeine, carbonation and other stimulants.

Four or more hours between events or heats

With four or more hours between events or heats, an athlete may want a meal, which should be composed primarily of carbohydrates. Keep the meals simple. The following meal examples for the situation are appropriate:

A turkey sandwich on two slices of whole wheat bread, low-fat yogurt with fruit, and water or sports (fluid replacement) drink

Spaghetti with lean meatballs, bread, salad with low-fat dressing, and water or a sports (fluid replacement) drink

During Exercise

Consuming carbohydrates during exercise lasting longer than 60 minutes ensures that the muscles receive adequate amounts of energy, especially during the later stages of the competition or workout. Here are some guidelines to follow:

Consume 6-12 oz. of a sports drink with 6-8% carbohydrate concentration every 15-30 minutes during exercise. One gulp is about 2 oz.

Water is needed to aid in absorption of the carbohydrate. Drinks with a concentration greater than 10% are often associated with abdominal cramps, nausea, and diarrhea.

For high intensity activities, sports drinks and gels containing multiple forms of sugar can increase absorption and delivery of carbohydrates, but avoid energy drinks. They are not a substitute.

Take a cooler to all day events. Here are some recommendations on what to keep in that cooler.

Food Serving size Fat Carbs. Protein
Baby carrots 7 carrots 0 grams 3 grams 0 grams
Breadsticks 1 stick (2 oz.) 6 grams 24 grams 4 grams
Celery 1 large stalk 0 grams 2 grams 0 grams
Cherry tomatoes ½ cup 0 grams 7 grams 1 gram
Chocolate milk (low-fat) 1 cup 2 grams 26 grams 8 grams
Cottage cheese (low-fat) ½ cup 1 gram 3 grams 14 grams
Dried fruit 1 package 1 gram 188 grams 7 grams
Sports drink 8 oz. 0 grams 14 grams 0 grams
Granola bar 1 bar 5 grams 43 grams 10 grams
Fresh fruit 1 piece or 1 cup <1 gram 19 grams 3 grams
Ginger snaps 1 oz 3 grams 22 grams 2 grams
Hummus ¼ cup 5 grams 13 grams 3 grams
Meal replacement drink 1 can (11 fl. oz.) 3 grams 40 grams 10 grams
Nuts (mixed) ¼ cup 15 grams 7 grams 5 grams
Peanut butter 2 tbsp 16 grams 7 grams 8 grams
Pita bread (whole wheat) 1 pita 2 grams 35 grams 6 grams
Turkey sandwich (3 slices deli meat, low-fat mayo, 2 slices whole wheat bread)/ baby carrots Turkey: 1 sliceMayo: 1 tbspBread: 1 sliceCarrots: 7 Turkey: 1 gram per sliceMayo: 5 gBread: 5 gCarrots: 0 g Turkey: 0gMayo: 0gBread: 24gCarrots: 3g Turkey: 5g per sliceMayo: 0gBread: 2gCarrots: <1g
Vanilla Wafers 4 wafers 10 grams 19 grams <1 gram
Whole grain bagel 1 bagel (4 oz.) 1.5 grams 47 grams 11 grams
Whole grain cereal 1 cup 1 gram 47 grams 7 grams
Whole grain crackers 5 crackers 15 grams 11 grams 1 gram
Yogurt (non-fat) 8 oz. 0 grams 15 grams 11 grams

 

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Mark Robinson, ATC, CSCS

Mark Robinson is a certified athletic trainer and certified strength conditioning specialist, focusing in sports medicine, for OrthoIllinois. He also trains individuals and athletes with and without a variety of medical issues at Precision Sports Training and competes as a contract athlete for Running for a cause.


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