Sports nutrition is so essential to both your performance and your physique! I love breaking down sports nutrition because when you can nail your fuel the sport itself becomes that much more fun. You have the energy to crush your workout, the game, or practice. No more lack of energy here! I struggled for years to feel super energetic and fueled when playing sports. I would force myself through using sheer determination. Now I use that mental power to play the game!
How to Determine Which Approach is Best for You
You want to up level your game by nailing your nutrition. So how do you decide which approach is best for you?
- First, determine what type of sport you are participating in. Are you an endurance athlete? A strength athlete? A sprinter? An everyday athlete who likes to mix it up? Each of these activities requires different types of fuel to get you to the top of your game.
- Second, determine how much time there is between your meal and your sport. Do you eat right before you play? An hour before? Two hours before? This makes a difference as to which types of food and how much to eat!
- Thirdly, you must test things out. Maybe you try drinking a protein shake made with berries and peanut butter powder and find that it makes you feel sick. Or maybe you eat a banana and find that it doesn’t give you enough fuel. I can give you all the recommendations in the world, but each body is a bit different.
So, take this article, the advice, and the recommendations and find what works for you!
Breaking Down Endurance Sports
Endurance sports are a field of their own because you are pretty much going non-stop for 60+ minutes. This means that your body needs ample fuel to make sure you stay energized. Let’s break endurance sports down a little further.
- Long Distance Cardio – Long distance running, swimming, rowing, biking, cross country skiing, etc. depletes your body’s glycogen stores almost completely. Glycogen is the fuel that makes your muscles work. A good rule of thumb is to eat 20-25 grams of protein and 50-60 grams of carbs about 90 minutes before your workout. During your workout, about 45-60 minutes in, take in more carbs. This could be in the form of a sports drink, gummies, or another quick acting carb. Post workout take in another 20-25 grams of protein (preferably through a shake) and another 50-60 grams of carbs to help with recovery.
- Time Intensive Team Sports – Time intensive team sports, such as soccer, football, field hockey, basketball, ice hockey, etc. also require sufficient fuel and carbs to keep you on point. 60-90 minutes pre-game or practice, take in 20-25 grams of protein and 40-50 grams of carbs. During halftime, take in another 20-30 grams of carbs in the form of orange slices, sports drinks, fruit juice, or another quick acting carb. Post-game or practice, take in another 20-25 grams of protein (quick digesting) and another 40-50 grams of carbs.
- Low Intensity Long Lasting Sports – This is sports such as golf, disk golf, low to moderate intensity hiking, etc. These sports do not deplete your glycogen stores like running or soccer, however you still need the proper fuel to play at the top of your game. 90 minutes or so before beginning, take in 20-25 grams of protein and 30-40 grams of carbohydrates. During the workout, you probably won’t need any extra fuel, however if you do try munching on a piece of fruit or sipping on diluted fruit juice. Post-workout, take in another 20-25 grams of quick digesting protein and 30-40 grams of carbohydrates.
Do you want to dive a bit deeper into the details of nutrition for endurance athletes? Check out this video!
What the heck are stop-go-stop sports? These are sports where you expend a lot of energy for a brief period of time and then rest for a period of time. Sports such as sprinting, tennis, and weight lifting. For these particular types of sports, you won’t necessarily need an intra-workout carb unless you are feeling depleted, it is really hot out, or you didn’t eat enough before you started working out.
90 or so minutes before your workout, eat 25-30 grams of protein and 40-50 grams of carbs. If you need an intra-workout boost, sip on a sports drink or diluted fruit juice. Post-workout, have some chocolate milk. Seriously. Chocolate milk has just the right ratio of carbs and protein to maximize recovery! If you are anti-chocolate milk, aim for 20-25 grams of protein and 40-50 grams of carbs!
If this was interesting for you, check out this video that gets down even deeper into the details of nutrition for performance!
The Final Countdown
Now you have the nitty gritty on sports nutrition. Don’t forget to keep an apple or a sports drink ready in your bag in case your energy flags. Using protein and carbs pre and post workout will allow you to have the energy you need while building and maintaining critical muscle. Drink up, chow down, and get out there and work!