Sports Nutrition: The Winning Edge – Guest Post by Anna Key, RD, LD

by | Apr 13, 2016

Doughnuts - healthy eating?

From my training and general reading, I have some understanding of nutrition and can give some basic advice (Thankfully not quite like in the picture!) . However, a goal of this blog is to provide my clients with high-quality knowledge and to do that for nutrition we will turn things over to local sports nutrition expert Anna Key, RD, LD from Huntsville Hospital. Thanks Anna!

Anna Key, RD, LD; Registered Dietician, sports nutritions expert

Anna Key attended Samford University where she received her Bachelors of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics in 2005. She has been employed at Huntsville Hospital’s Wellness Center since 2006 where she performs individual nutrition counseling for weight loss, diabetes, cardiac rehab, eating disorders, sports nutrition, intestinal disorders, and gastric bypass. She is also an instructor for weight loss classes held at the Wellness Center and appears on ABC, CBS and NBC affiliate channels.

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Sports Nutrition: The Winning Edge

Every person is different, but at least one thing we all have in common is the need to eat. The amount and types of food we need to eat varies by who we are individually. Obviously, someone who does regular intense physical activity will need to eat differently than someone who is sedentary for most of the day. So what exactly do athletes need to eat? How can food help you maximize your performance on race day or before the next big game or match? What you put into your body can directly affect your performance output, so knowing what you need and what you eat can make a world of difference.

  • Hydrate for high performance

    • One of the most important things you can do for your body is to keep yourself hydrated. Drinking a healthy amount throughout the day is important, but you also need to drink around your exercise schedule
      • Drink 2-3 cups of water or a sports drink two hours before exercising
      • Drink ½-1 cup 15-30 minutes immediately before starting exercise
      • Weigh yourself before and after exercise to see how much fluid you need to replace
        • Drink 2-3 cups or 16-24 ounces of fluid for every pound of water lost or assess the color of your urine. The color of apple juice = dehydration. The color of lemonade is ideal.
      • It is ideal to increase your water intake days before your event to ensure you are adequately hydrated.
  • Making the most with macronutrients

    • The ideal macronutrient breakdown for most athletes involves higher carbohydrate with moderate protein and fat.
    • Carbohydrates
      • The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 30-60 grams of carbohydrates per hour of exercise.
      • Eat carbohydrates 30 minutes before and after exercise so that your body will not use protein for energy. They are a quick main energy source for working muscles and are crucial for building glycogen stores for better endurance.
      • A good general target is to make over half of your calories come from healthy carbohydrates.
    • Protein
      • Protein works to rebuild and repair our muscles throughout an exercise session. Keep in mind – it’s important to eat a balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat (not just protein) if you want to “bulk up.”
      • Having too much protein can increase your need for fluids, which in turn can increase your chance of dehydration. It can also end up stored as fat if the extra calories are not used.
      • Eat protein within 30 minutes to an hour of exercise, and at each meal and snack throughout the day.
      • For power athletes, 1.6-1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is a good standard. Endurance athletes may do better with 1.2-1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Normal individuals often only need 0.8-1.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
    • Fat
      • Fat is not our enemy. It works to insulate our organs, regulate our temperature, keeps us feeling “full,” and is the home for vitamins A, D, E, and K.
      • Try to get 30% of your total kilocalories from fat, and focus more on the type of fat you’re consuming.
        • Consume mostly unsaturated fats- think olive and canola oil, nuts, avocados, hummus, tuna, etc.
        • Avoid trans-fats. These are found mostly in processed foods.
  • Fueling for fitness

    • Make sure to eat breakfast! Research has shown a 20% performance improvement with breakfast consumption. Even a PB& J with a glass of milk will do!
    • A pregame meal should consist of high carbohydrate foods.
      • Fill 2/3 of your plate with high carbohydrate options like pasta, bread, rice, etc. and the other 1/3 with lean grilled protein choices and veggies. Try steak and veggie stir-fry with rice, or a grilled chicken sandwich with fruit and chips/pretzels.
    • Give your food some time to digest to avoid stomach pain.
      • 3-4 hours for a large meal, 2-3 hours for a small meal, and 1-2 hours for a snack
    • Post-game, consume a high carbohydrate food (40-50 grams), protein (10-20 grams), and fluids within thirty minutes to an hour of exercise. Examples would be a large handful of trail mix, a Clif Builder bar, or Power Bar Complete Protein.

The best way to get a nutrition plan designed for your specific needs is to meet with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, who can generate individualized recommendations as well as meal and snack ideas based on your age, weight, gender, activity level, and other factors.

Be a winner by using great nutrition

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1 Comment

  1. Frank Walton

    What about micronutrients from fruits and vegetables? A 1991 journal article reported there are 12,544 compounds in fruits and vegetables


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