Guilderland, NY – Spring is here! Yippie! Time to get ready for some outdoor sporting events. Is your calendar starting to fill up with weekend soccer and lacrosse tournaments or the baseball double header? If the answer is yes, then how are you feeding your athlete to perform their best? Sports nutrition is an exploding field and very scientific. There is so much information available that it can often be overwhelming. Here are some tips to help you manage tournament day.
Carbohydrates are an athlete’s primary fuel. When eaten, carbohydrates break down into small units of glucose or simple sugar. There are various types of carbohydrates that break down at different rates. Whole grains break down slower than white flour grains. Using whole grains in general is a great idea. But when feeding an athlete who has a soccer game in an hour, it is recommended they get quick fuel by eating simple carbohydrates. Post-game meals or end of the tournament day are good times to eat whole grains. The overall nutrition plan of an athlete should be 50-60% carbohydrates. While fat and protein are important nutrients too, they take longer to breakdown and are best eaten when there is adequate time to digest (such as post-game or at least 2- 3 hours before the game).
Pre-game nutrition and eating in between games at tournaments should consist of mainly carbohydrates. Follow these tips to help give your athlete the nutritional edge and keep their energy level high. (The following list does not take food sensitivities or allergies into consideration).
It is always better to be prepared for those long days at your sporting event. Take food with you so you can avoid the hot dogs, burgers, fries and soda at the concession stand. Save those foods for after the sport is done for the day.
Keep food in a sports bag or in the car: Crackers, cereal, granola/cereal/sports bars, raisins, pretzels, dried fruit, trail mix and water.
Take a cooler: Water, diluted fruit juice (apple, orange, cranberry, grape), sports drinks, V8 juice, 1% milk or chocolate milk, yogurt, fruit (bananas, apples, grapes, raisins, oranges, watermelon), vegetables (carrot sticks, celery, broccoli, etc. with a low fat dip), low fat string cheese, turkey or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, bagel with reduced fat cream cheese or peanut butter, pudding and hummus.
Carbohydrate-rich pre-game meals: bagels, waffles, pancakes, flour tortilla, oatmeal, white rice, pasta, baked potato, sandwiches, bean burrito, peanut butter sandwich, low-fat yogurt, fig cookies and fruit cereal bar.
When eating at restaurants for pre-game meal and between games: Focus on high carbohydrate and low fat foods to refuel and provide energy. Avoid high-fat meats: beef, bacon, ham, sausage, etc. Order foods such as spaghetti, lasagna, breads and salad. Order thick-crust rather than thin crust pizza. Order low-fat toppings on pizza such as mushrooms, green peppers, lean ground meat, onions and skip the pepperoni and sausage. Try vegetable soups or chili with crackers, bread, pretzels, and graham crackers. Avoid deep fried foods such as French fries (try baked potato), fried fish or chicken. Try baked or broiled chicken and fish. Choose leafy green salads loaded with fresh vegetables. Go easy on the cheese, croutons, salad dressing and mayo.
I hope this gives you a few ideas to keep the energy high for your athletes this summer. As always, if you have question about this article or a health condition feel free to call the Sports & Spinal Wellness Center for a free consultation at 518-869-3415. Please visit our website for more information at www.sportsandspinalwellness.com. We would be happy to be a part of your health care team.