Thursday, October 11, 2012

Heathly Half-Time Fuel for the Performance Athlete

Do you compete in a high-intensity, endurance sport (like soccer) with minimal breaks during games? 
Do you find yourself without any opportunities to hydrate or fuel during competition? 
Do you have a hard time eating a pregame meal because of a nervous stomach or "butterflies"?

Competing at a high-intensity for long periods of time without a break can leave you dehydrated and fatigued from low energy, especially if you do not hydrate and fuel properly before competition.

Consider this:
Three main causes of exercise fatigue and impaired sports performance are:
  1. dehydration
  2. reduced energy stores in muscles ("glycogen")
  3. low blood sugar levels
For some sports, the only opportunity for a break is half-time.

Rehydrating and refueling during competition (at half-time) can help keep sports performance at optimal levels and help get you through the second half of the game, especially those crucial final minutes when physical and mental fatigue can really take a toll. This is even more important if you consider those unexpected overtime periods that sometimes occur.

Halftime is a great opportunity to refuel and rehydrate. Fluids provide the much needed hydration for your body to cool itself and maintain its optimal temperature. Carbohydrate foods provide the much needed glucose (sugar) your brain and muscles use during competition.

Here are some half-time snack suggestions that provide your body with the much needed fluids and fuel (glucose) to stay strong, delay fatigue, and keep your performance high. These foods are high in water content, high in carbohydrates, and low in fat so they digest quickly.

  • Sports Drinks (Gatorade) or water
  • Bananas
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Cut-up melon
  • Sliced oranges
  • Apple wedges

Remember one of the most important rules of sports nutrition:
Never try anything new for the first time on GAME DAY!!!  
Try different carbohydrate foods during practice first to see if they settle well in your stomach.
Everyone is different. What works for a teammate, may not work for you.

Fuel Excellence!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Nutrition & Recovery from Injury- Important Nutrients for the Healing Process

Don't let injuries sideline you on game day. A healthy sports diet can help you heal, recover, and get back in action!
Protein: Injuries, surgeries, and stress can all increase protein needs, especially in young athletes. The body uses protein to build bone and muscle, heal injuries, and fight infections by keeping the immune system healthy.
  • Good sources of protein include fish, chicken, turkey, beef, pork, eggs, beans, soy foods, milk, cheese, and yogurt.

Calcium & Vitamin D work together to build and maintain strong bones.
  • Calcium is in dairy foods like milk, yogurt, & cheese; Calcium-fortified soy milk, almond milk, and orange juice; and veggies like broccoli and kale. 
  • Vitamin D is found in fish, eggs, and in fortified foods like milk & some orange juices. Your body can also make its own Vitamin D from the sunlight!

Vitamin C helps your body to form collagen. Collagen is a protein needed for strength and flexibility; it repairs tendons and ligaments and strengthens bones. Vitamin C also gives your immune system a boost. Make sure you eat plenty of foods with Vitamin C.  
  • Fruits and veggies are good sources of Vitamin C: oranges and orange juice, broccoli, red & green bell peppers, strawberries,  grapefruit and grapefruit juice, tomatoes, papaya, cantaloupe, watermelon.

Vitamin A is needed for growth & development, bone formation, wound healing, and it helps the immune system work properly.
  • Good sources of Vitamin A include bright orange fruits like mangoes, papayas, apricots, cantaloupe, and peaches; milk, eggs, liver, and fortified cereals; carrots, sweet potatoes, and red bell peppers; spinach, kale, and other dark-green leafy veggies.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Youth Soccer Nutrition Tips

Fuel up 
to play hard!

New ball. 
New cleats. 
New uniform. Training camps. 
And the list goes on. We want to provide the best for our soccer star, so let’s not forget one of the important factors affecting performance: 
good nutrition!


Kids need high amounts of energy to meet the demands of soccer, growth, and development. Being properly fueled and hydrated before practice (and games) helps them perform at their best and stay healthy.

Nutrition Tips before Play:

-ALWAYS eat breakfast and lunch. This fuels their muscles and their brain for the school day.

-Have an after-school snack BEFORE practice. Carbohydrates are the main fuel for sports. Muscles use carbs for energy during practice and games, and carbs are also the main fuel for the brain. Snacks high in carbohydrates and low in fat work best because they digest quickly. Avoid fatty snacks and fast  foods before practice and games, because they can lead to stomachaches and make your child feel tired.                  

-Fluids are also important before play for proper hydration. Dehydration can cause headaches, muscle cramps, and fatigue which can really hurt performance and lead to injury. 
Avoid carbonated beverages because they may cause bloating and stomachaches.

Snacks Recommended Before Play: 
Allow approximately one hour to digest the snack before practice.

-Fruits, granola bars, bowl of cereal, yogurt, bagel, pretzels or whole-grain crackers, whole grain toaster waffles, half-sandwich.

Fluids -Water, Fruit smoothie, Gatorade, Low-fat Milk or Soy milk

Good Luck and have a successful season!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Fueling Water Polo - VCHS Edition

Water polo is one of the toughest sports. It requires many skills such as speed, endurance, strength, and power.  Proper nutrition is the key to achieving your optimum performance, both individually and as a team. Eating the right foods at the right times can:
  • Allow you to train longer & harder 
  • Reduce fatigue 
  • Reduce risk of injury 
  • Help you recover more quickly from practices and games
  • Improve your overall performance

Fueling Water Polo

Carbohydrates (Carbs): whole grain breads, cereals, pastas, rice, fruits, veggies, crackers, low-fat milk & yogurt.
  • Carbs are the main fuel for sports, so most of your calories should come from carbs. 
  • Your muscles use carbs for energy during practice and games, and carbs are also the main fuel for your brain. 
  • Eating carbs before practice will help keep your energy high throughout practice and allow you to train harder. This will help improve your overall performance. 
  • Carbs can also “refuel” your muscles after practice and games. Refueling as soon as possible after practice increases your muscles’ energy storage for your next practice. Overtime, this can help you recover more quickly and make practices seem easier, allowing you to train even harder. 
Protein: fish, chicken, turkey, beef, pork, eggs, beans, soy foods, milk, cheese, yogurt.
  • Protein is necessary for muscle recovery and repair after practices and games. 
  • Protein is also very important for growth and development during the teen years. 
  • Getting the right amounts of protein will help you stay healthy and improve your game. 
Fluids → water, sports drinks (Gatorade), milk, 100% juice

  • Fluids are very important before, during, and after training and games. Yes, even though you are in the water, you can still become very dehydrated if you don't drink fluids. 
  • Dehydration can cause headaches, muscle cramps, and fatigue. This can really hurt your performance. 
  • It is important to start drinking fluids at least 1 to 2 hours before practice, take short fluid breaks every 20 minutes during practice, and continue drinking fluids after practice so you can “rehydrate” your body. 
  • Water is fine during games as they less than one hour long. 
  • However, it is recommended to drink sports drinks with added carbs and electrolytes (like Gatorade) during practice, because practices are long and strenuous. This added fuel will give you energy during the last minutes of practice when your energy is running low. Water with fruit during practice can also work great, but liquid calories like Gatorade tend to digest more easily while swimming.
Tips for Fueling High School Water Polo Practice
on School Days.

ALWAYS EAT A HEALTHY BREAKFAST AND LUNCH!  How else will you survive the school day?  Student athletes who eat breakfast perform better in the classroom than those who skip breakfast.

Some healthy examples include (but not limited to):
  • breakfast: cereal with fruit and milk, large fruit/yogurt smoothie, breakfast burrito with eggs, cheese, and ham, pancakes or waffles with fruit, large bowl of oatmeal with dried fruit and milk, large bagel topped with PB and glass of milk.

  • lunch: brown bag it! Make a healthy lunch at home and bring it to school- PB & jelly sandwiches, deli meat sandwiches, fruits, cheese and crackers, sports bars, water or Gatorade. Avoid fatty, greasy fast foods and junk foods because they can cause stomach aches and make you feel tired and sleepy before afternoon practices.

HAVE A QUICK AFTER-SCHOOL SNACK.  Fuel up right before practice. It should be small, high-carb food and low in fat so it digests quickly enough before your practice.**
  • Pre-practice snack ideas (have both food & fluids) 
    • Foods: Fruit, granola bar, crackers, or pretzels. 
    • Fluids: Water, Gatorade, small low-fat, skim, or soy milk.
**You now have "Healthy Vending" machines at school, but bringing healthy fuel from home is much cheaper.   

EAT DURING STUDY HALL BEFORE THE LATER PRACTICE SESSIONS:  When study hall and later practice sessions begin, there will be a very long time between lunch and practice, so be sure to bring a "2nd lunch" to eat during study hall.                                                 

REFUEL AND REHYDRATE IMMEDIATELY AFTER PRACTICE: Eating a snack with carbs and protein as soon as possible after practice (within 30 minutes) helps your muscles recover more quickly. The snack should be readily available so you can eat it as soon as possible. Chocolate milk, sports bar, and fruit is a great post-workout recovery meal.

EAT A HEALTHY, HEARTY DINNER WITHIN 2 HOURS OF PRACTICE; DON'T FORGET FLUIDS TOO!  Your dinner meal will help you refuel and recover for the next day's practice.

Remember, the best energy booster and muscle builder for athletes is 
a healthy sports diet. 

Go Warriors!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Friday, June 15, 2012

Protein needs immediately after exercise.

I thought I would share a great blog about post-exercise protein needs. More isn't better! 



Post-exercise protein: How much is enough? 

Posted by Nancy Clark RD CSSD on Jun 15, 2012 5:31:56 AM

How much protein does a weight-lifter need to get an optimal response from exercise? --Is it an absolute amount or grams per kilogram body weight?
Speaking at a symposium sponsored by PINES (, protein researcher Daniel Moore PhD of the University of Guelph in Canada reported that for generalized advice, 20 grams of post-exercise protein does the job for the average athlete. More is not better. In a study that compared 20 and 40 grams, the higher 40-gram dose offered minimal additional benefits for muscle protein synthesis. Don’t waste your money on supplements, and also don’t fill up on protein while ignoring your needs for carbohydrates to refuel your muscles. You want to consume three times more carbs than protein!

For more personalized advice, the best bet is to determine post-exercise protein needs according to body weight. Moore recommends targeting about 0.25 g protein per kilogram body weight (that’s about .11 gram per pound) to maximize muscle protein synthesis. This means:
-- a 50 kg (110 lb) female would need approximately 12.5 grams protein post-exercise
--a 100 kg (220 pound) man, would need about 25 grams protein post-exercise.
Any excessprotein primarily gets burned as fuel or stored as fat.

You want to offer your muscles a continous supply of protein, so enjoy repeated “doses” throughout the day. Most athletes do this naturally with meals and snacks.

For more information:
Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook, Chapter 7: Protein to Build and Repair Muscles

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Want to run faster? "BEET" it!

 Today, the first Wednesday in June, is NATIONAL RUNNING DAY!  Not a fast runner or jogger? No worries!  Just get up and get our there! Remember the quote to the left!

If you are already a serious runner and want to increase your speed? A new study published in the April 2012 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, shows that eating cooked beets "acutely improves running performance." Apparently the key is the nitrate.

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (A.N.D.), "researchers tested 11 moderately fit runners as they ran a pair of 5-kilometer races on a treadmill. Before one race, they gave volunteers a placebo; before the other, they gave them a 200-gram (7-ounce) serving of baked beets (which contains approximately 500 milligrams of nitrates).
The results? After eating beets, the runners went an average of 3 percent faster and shaved 41 seconds off their times. And their biggest speed gains came over the final 1.1 miles of the race. According to the study, 200 grams baked beetroot, or an equivalent nitrate dose from other vegetables, should be consumed 60 minutes before exercise."

Want to run faster? "Beet" it!! - Here is a link to the A.N.D. article and important information on general sports nutrition and running.

Baked beets recipes - some ideas to help you beet it!

Fuel Excellence!