Athlete nutrition

By MaryKate McCann
November 17, 2012

The sound of rich French vanilla ice cream smothered in hot fudge nestled on a warm brownie and topped with whipped cream makes my mouth water.

But did I burn enough calories to treat myself to this fudge brownie sundae?

Let’s just say I am an athlete who consumes foods everyone else is nagged to avoid. Sports drinks, bars and gels are used before, during and after exercising, but the calories you put back in your body are the most important in improving your athletic routine.

I know after I compete in competition I feel I can eat desserts and fatty foods because I burned a lot, but that’s not the case. After burning those calories your body needs to refuel so that you will not only obtain, but also maintain, optimal performance.

Your daily eating pattern is critical. Fueling with protein instead of a Big Mac and hydrating with water instead of beer, will help you stay in good health so you can train and compete at your best.

When a physical workout is over, the mental work isn’t.

Athletes burn up mass amount of calories and what you decide to eat after you burn those calories will determine your success. You have to understand how much a serving size is and how many calories a serving contains.

It’s called portion control. Your daily diet should supply you with the fuel and nutrients needed to recover quickly between workouts and maintain an appropriate body weight.

During digestion, the body breaks down carbohydrates to glucose and stores it in the muscles as glycogen. That is why coaches are always advising an athlete to eat a good amount of spaghetti, potatoes, lasagna, cereals and other grain products. Athletes on high-carbohydrate diets can exercise longer than athletes eating a low-carbohydrate diet.

Athletes need to find balance between food and physical activity and get the most nutrition out of calories.

The choices you make outside the gym and in the kitchen will make or break your performance.

Choose high-calorie, nutrient-dense foods instead of low-fat, low-calorie options.

  • Whole wheat bagels
  • Whole wheat hoagie buns
  • Oatmeal with granola
  • Granola
  • Cereals that contain nuts and granola (1 serving = 200 calories or more)
  • Whole grain chips
  • Pasta dishes
  • Muffins
  • Nut-based granola bars
  • Trail mix
  • Peanut butter
  • Nuts/seeds/flaxseed
  • Avocado
  • Olive oil
  • 2% milk/chocolate milk
  • Full-fat yogurts
  • Cheese
  • 100% juice
  • High-calorie protein powders
  • Lean cuts of red meat

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MaryKate McCann

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