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Registered Dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner, the Right Foods at the Right Time for Athletes

3:20 PM, Mar 15, 2012   |    comments
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It's amazing what eating the right type of food at the right time can do for you. Among other benefits, you may be able to train harder and feel better with proper nourishment. I encourage my clients to fuel their bodies before, during and after their workouts and created a sports nutrition rule book to guide them. Consider printing/saving this information for your next round of training and races.

My next post will include tips on what to eat during the rest of the day...breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks! Stay tuned.


-Before exercise, the most important thing to eat is carbohydrate-rich foods to fuel your muscles.

-Consume a pre-workout snack approximately 20 minutes before activity.

-Examples of pre-workout carbohydrate snacks include:

a. fruit: apple, Florida grapefruit, banana

b. granola bar

c. oatmeal


Thirst is not a good indicator for how much water you should drink or when.  By the time you feel thirsty, chances are you are already dehydrated. 

Even just slight dehydration will negatively affect mental and physical performance and can cause muscle cramps, joint pain, fatigue, headaches and decreased concentration. 

Here are some general hydration guidelines: 

-Before exercise, drink about 8 ounces of water.

-During exercise, drink about 8 ounces of water every 15 minutes. 

-If you are exercising longer than 60 minutes (that's you, marathoners and 1/2ers!), consume a sports drink because your body needs to replace fluid, carbohydrates and electrolyte losses such as sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium, calcium. How much? Aim for 7 to 15 grams of carbohydrates every 15 minutes, which is about 4 to 8 ounces of a sports drink every 15 minutes. PS-If you don't use a sports drink, be sure to use water and sports gels or chews that have carbohydrates and electrolytes (especially sodium).

-After exercise do the "weight test" by weighing yourself before and after exercise. The goal is not to lose any weight. But, if you do observe a weight change, drink an additional 16-24 ounces of fluid for every pound lost.


-Post workout, you need two things: protein and carbohydrates. 

-Protein repairs tired muscles and carbohydrates replenish your energy stores (glycogen). 

-Aim to eat within 30 minutes of exercise since this is when your body is best able to repair and replenish itself. 

-Examples of protein and carbohydrate recovery foods include:

a. low-fat cottage cheese and peaches

b. natural peanut butter and half a whole grain English muffin

c. hardboiled egg and whole grain crackers

d. a smoothie with low-fat dairy and frozen fruit (See the recipe below; it's a perfect balance of protein and carbohydrates.)

Grapefruit Berry Recovery Smoothie Recipe

1/4 cup rolled oats

1 cup Florida grapefruit juice

1 container (6 ounces) Greek plain low-fat yogurt

1/2 cup frozen unsweetened mixed berries

1 Tablespoon honey or 100% maple syrup

Pulse oats in blender until powdery. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Makes 1 smoothie. Nutrition Info: 380 calories, 5g fat, 2.5g saturated fat, 60mg sodium, 68g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 52g sugar, 18g protein, 25% vitamin A, 140% vitamin C, 15% calcium, 10% iron.

Optional: Add "smoothie boosts" such as fresh baby spinach (1 cup), ground flaxseeds (1-2 Tablespoons), unsweetened cocoa powder (1 Tablespoon) or cinnamon (to taste).

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