Eating to give maximum performance for sports events can be tricky, but not impossible. Leslie Bonci, RD, sports nutritionist for the Pittsburgh Steelers suggests that most athletes can detract from performance by making the following common mistakes:
- They skip meals
- They don’t drink enough before, during and after practices/events
- They wait too long to refuel after exercise
- They don’t always get enough calories
Skipping meals can really impact performance because muscles need fuel to exercise. Try to eat every 3-4 hours to give your body maximal energy. Eat something within 15 minutes of exercise such as a sports drink, cereal bar or trail mix to help your body recover.
Drink the minimum number of ounces you need each day. To figure this out, take your body weight (pounds) x 0.3. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, you need 45 ounces. This includes all fluids except alcohol.
Here are some general guidelines; drink 2 cups of fluid 2 hours prior to exercise; drink 3 cups of fluid for every pound lost. And drink it, rather than pour it on your head!
Refuel with care by balancing carbohydrates, protein and fat. Carbohydrates are good for you! The plate should always be filled 2/3 with rice, pasta, potato, bread, cereal, fruits or vegetables. Muscles need carbs for fuel during activity and so does your brain.
Most people make mistakes when it comes to protein. A general rule is that the body weight (pounds) is the minimum number of grams of protein a day that is needed and total body weight (pounds) is the maximum number of grams of protein a day. Protein powders are not necessary.
Remember, too much protein usually means too little carbohydrates. There should be a little fat at every meal because it helps slow down digestion and sustain athletes. It is important to limit the amount of fatty foods you have before exercise however, because it can upset the stomach!
Getting enough calories is often difficult and if you find yourself overly hungry after a sporting event, chances are you aren’t eating enough and you could actually over eat. Monitor this closely and adjust your intake accordingly.
For more information about eating to perform join Leslie J. Bonci, MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN, one of the country’s most recognized sports dietitians and nutrition consultant for the Pittsburgh Steelers and other national sports teams, as well as a member of the US Olympic committee sports nutrition network as she presents “Show Me What I Want to Eat,” 12-1 p.m. on July 15th at Kootenai Medical Center’s Fox Auditorium. This presentation will provide tips to tweak your eating to optimize performance and is free to the public, but space is limited. Registration is required, so call 666-2030