A few months back I went to an interesting lecture on sports nutrition given by Dr. Felicia Stoler, DCN, MS, RD, FASCM. She is a fellow RD and Exercise Physiologist who has been featured in various media outlets and has a book out called, “Living Skinny in Fat Genes.” She is a strong proponent of meeting your exercise/sports nutrition needs via foods rather than supplements. For one, there is limited regulation on supplements and secondly, with regards to protein supplements for athletes, most can (and probably do) consume adequate amounts from the foods they eat. To optimize athletic performance, nutrition helps but training and getting adequate rest for an event is key.
An athlete requires fluids and electrolytes for hydration, carbohydrates for fuel (which can also come from candy), protein for repair, and vitamins and minerals for health. To properly hydrate yourself in preparation for an athletic event requires that you do not rely on the feeling of thirst to determine when you drink water, as it is not a reliable indicator of when you should drink. Sports drinks can be useful when exercising for greater than one hour. They not only rehydrate you but also provide necessary fuel. These sports drinks should consist of 5 to 8% carbohydrates, contain sodium, and consumed when exercising greater than one hour.
The following is a breakdown of some of the nutritional tips Dr. Felicia Stoler gave to encourage top athletic performance:
1.) Have the athlete create a food log to determine what diet regimen works best for that athlete.
2.) The athlete should weigh him or herself before and after exercising to determine fluid losses (or if too much fluid has been consumed).
3.) 2 hours before an event/training
- Drink approximately 17 oz. of water
- Consume a well chewed solid food meal
4.) 1 hour prior to event/training semi liquid or liquid meals are allowed.
5.) 10-15 minutes prior to and during exercise drink 8 to 10 oz. of water.
6.) After 90 minutes of exercise, 8-10 oz. of a sports drink should be consumed every 15 to 30 minutes.
7.) Following exercise, consume 20-24 oz. of water for every pound lost.
8.) During the important 2 hour recovery period, make sure you have a snack consisting of a 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio. (examples she gave were chocolate milk, turkey and cheese with apple slices and pretzels, and tuna on whole wheat).