Fuelling Bodies for Athletics

By: Michelle Giangualano, Olympic Athlete & Founder, Bundles of Energy  & Carrie Dancey, RNH & Nutrition Consultant

Proper nutrition is an integral part of training for all athletes; it should provide the building blocks for optimal performance, behaviour and health.  Whether young children or adults, excellent nutrition is required to support optimal health while allowing them to reach their maximum potential as athletes, both now and in in the future.

Many athletes today are not eating a well-balanced, wholesome diet that supports their health. This is usually a result of the ever convenient, over-processed and highly refined foods that are eaten because of busy lifestyles. On the other hand, whole natural foods contain highly valuable nutrients as well as energy to fuel their bodies. They are also free of refined ingredients such as sugar, which suppresses the immune systems of vulnerable young bodies and food dyes that are known to affect behaviour and attitude.

Here are some considerations for fuelling your athletes:

  • Hydration: For most athletes water is the most effective way to hydrate the body; drink plenty before, during, and after the activity. Choose filtered water, for the best benefits (for more on great water choices, email us). Be cautious with sport drinks & other types of drinks as they often contain significant amounts of refined sugar and artificial food coloring. Check labels and look for all natural ingredients if you use them.
  • Pre-activity: Complex Carbohydrates provide the body with energy, and carbohydrates are the primary fuel for exercise* (Williams 130).  Choose fresh or frozen vegetables, fruits, as well whole grain foods (Check labels: Crackers & breads should contain “whole grain…” and you should recognize what all the ingredients are. If you don’t know what some thing is, it is likely best to avoid it).
  • Post-activity: Athletes should eat a small snack within 15-30 minutes after activity, to encourage quick recovery. This snack should include a protein carbohydrate combination. Such as:

– A fruit & protein smoothie, with fruit such as mixed berries and proteins such pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds or a high quality protein powder. Make your own & pack it in a thermos for immediate consumption after activity.

– Trail mix with nuts, seeds and dried fruit (use dried goji berries for added nutrients and protein.)

– Fresh fruit, fresh vegetables & a protein snack such as”Sun Energy Balls“.

– A sandwich or wrap with nut butter, seed butter, or other high quality protein source such as organic chicken, eggs, fish, and legumes (beans and lentils).

  • Be sure to avoid drinks and snacks that are high in refined sugar, after activity as these refined ingredients are known to suppress the immune system & do not support much needed recovery of muscle tissues and energy stores.

In general, the best way to support the overall health and performance of all athletes, is with a well balanced diet, that focuses on live, whole and natural foods: organic fruits and vegetables, whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, whole grain breads and pastas, and high quality proteins. For free recipes based on whole, natural ingredients, go to www.bundlesofenergy.com/recipes or email us for more info on our available nutrition programs and services: info@bundlesofenergy.com .

Reference:
*Williams, M.H. Nutrition For Health, Fitness, & Sport, 9th edition. 2010. NY: McGraw Hill
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