Whether you’re a professional athlete or just train like one, you probably already know that sports nutrition plays a big role in your performance. You have to pay careful attention to your pre and post workout nutrition, so you can fine tune – not just what you eat – but how and when you eat it.
“It is well established that healthy nutrition and physical activity (PA) are key lifestyle factors that modulate lifelong health through their ability to improve body composition, musculoskeletal health, and physical and cognitive performance, as well as to prevent metabolic diseases including obesity, diabetes mellitus, and cardiovascular disease across the lifespan,” writes Karsten Koehler and Clemens Drenowatz, in their research linking nutrition and physical activity.
“While the health benefits of nutrition and physical activity are often studied singularly, it has become more and more evident that the integration of nutrition and physical activity has the potential to produce greater benefits when compared to strategies focusing solely on one or the other.”
Convinced? If you’re looking to take your workout sessions to the next level by optimizing your sports nutrition, you might want to incorporate these five tips from our team of wellness experts:
Maximize your intermittent fasting for performance
Intermittent fasting has proven benefits for athletic performance, but athletes should fast for no more than 12 hours every day from 7pm to 7am.
Time restricted eating, or intermittent fasting, longer than 12 hours will use your body's fat reserves, leading to weight loss. As an athlete, losing weight is not your top priority – staying in optimal health is.
Letting your body's digestive system rest for 12 hours each day is a smart “reset,” especially when done overnight when your body is already in parasympathetic (rest and digest) mode.
Fasting from 7pm to 7am is a way of giving your rest an extra boost; I like to call peak on peak. Think of it this way: it's like when you see lawn sprinklers on when it's raining; the point is to get the biggest bang for your buck!
Fasting during these hours allows your body to build on its natural reset mode, creating an environment for optimal performance.
Sydney Golden, Founder, Modern Health Guide
Recovery is just as important as exertion
It’s essential for athletes and active individuals to eat the right foods at the right time to recover from intense workout sessions.
Anyone can work out, but not everyone knows how to assist their body in recovering properly from training. Whether you’re a weekend warrior or an elite athlete, proper sports nutrition is key to recovery.
When selecting post workout nutrition, stick to single-ingredient, clean, whole foods in their natural state. Avoid processed, packaged, bagged, or “fast” foods that have a list of ingredients you (and your body) do not recognize.
Opt for clean, high quality protein and pair it with the phytonutrients and antioxidants of dark berries, leafy greens, and colorful vegetables. These foods will support tissue recovery after a workout.
Adding in essential amino acids and anti-inflammatory supplements and/or herbs, like turmeric, will help complete the recovery cycle and lower the oxidative stress involved with workouts. Healthy fats from clean sources can also help balance your hormones as your body repairs itself.
Dani Williamson, MSN, FNP, Owner, Integrative Family Medicine
Looking to add some recovery-enhancing turmeric to your diet? Our Vitality is packed with inflammation-fighting turmeric and black pepper to aid in absorption.
There’s a reason they say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The part they don’t mention is that it’s twice as important for athletes.
When athletes rest or sleep, their metabolisms slow down to help their bodies restore. When they wake up in the morning, they don’t have the energy to be at their best performance levels.
First thing in the morning is the time to have a healthy meal to help you get through the rest of the day. Daily breakfast helps energize you in the morning and power up your metabolism to perform at its best.
Breakfast also fuels your brain to cooperate with the rest of your body, so you can maintain mental focus and toughness during your workout sessions – an essential for high-performing athletes.
Natalia Maldonado, Co-founder, Warrior Life Code
Think of food as fuel
One sports nutrition tip for athletes or serious fitness enthusiasts is to think of the food you eat as fuel for your workout. For active individuals, that fuel is going to come in the form of carbohydrates. Just like you have to put fuel in your car, you also have to put fuel in your body for effective workouts.
Carbohydrates are broken down by the body into glucose. Glucose then circulates through the bloodstream (called blood glucose) and goes to the cells and muscles for energy. Your brain also needs glucose for fuel.
You should be eating foods with simple or complex carbohydrates before exercise or sports. You can also eat protein before a workout, but it’s not used as fuel, so it’s not as vital as carbs. Carbohydrates and protein should both be eaten as post workout nutrition.
Protein, of course, is important for muscle repair and recovery, so add some to your carbohydrates for a balanced meal or snack. The recommended ratio of carbs to protein for post workout nutrition is between 2:1 and 4:1. That means you need to eat two to four times as many carbohydrates as protein.
Melissa Morris, ISSN certified sports nutritionist and ACSM certified exercise
Drink plenty of fluids the entire day. Doing a strenuous activity, especially in hot weather, can leave you dehydrated. Intense exercise makes you lose fluid quickly. That’s why it’s important to hydrate frequently and not wait until you feel thirsty. If you're dehydrated, you can't perform optimally, and you may feel dizzy, tired, and experience muscle cramps.
Water helps you transport nutrients to give you energy and keep you healthy. It also regulates your body temperature and helps to maintain normal muscle function. Water lubricates joints and tissues.
For athletes, it’s advisable to drink 17 to 20 ounces of water two to three hours before exercising. During exercise, drink eight to 10 ounces of water every 10 to 20 minutes and eight ounces of water no more than 30 minutes after exercise for post workout nutrition.
Kevin Daly, Marketing Manager, Zevo Health - https://www.zevohealth.com/
As you can see, optimizing your sports nutrition goes a long way in enhancing your performance. If you’re looking for a post workout nutrition supplement, our Restore can give you a quick boost while you whip together a meal or snack made of protein and carbs. We’ve enhanced this dragon fruit-based juice shot with trans-resveratrol, a naturally-occurring chemical known for improving circulation and lowering blood sugar levels. Get your workout going with KOR!