Nutrition Basics for Athletes and Weekend Warriors

Whether you are in the gym lifting, running outside or doing soccer and mud runs on the weekend, the food you eat can either hurt or help your performance and recovery. Keep sugar, alcohol and processed foods to a minimum, as these foods will slow you down, decrease performance and reduce the rate of recovery.

Adopting a diet high in vegetables, healthy fats and good protein is the best way to ensure you will have maximum energy. While there are many supplements used by athletes to increase athletic performance, the studies are not very strong or conclusive. Many in the competitive world are adopting more of a paleo diet, which incorporates organic, grass fed meats and fish, fats such as coconut oil, avocado and seeds as well as plenty of vegetables. While this may not be the perfect diet for you all the time, it could be a good way to prepare your body if you are planning on doing a race. The advice differs for children and teens who are not yet fully grown, as they may need more carbohydrates than adults.

Protein:

Your muscles need protein to repair after an intense workout. You should always consume 20-25 grams of protein within 30 minutes of a workout. Some great whole foods alternatives to protein powders are hard-boiled eggs, hemp seeds or a pack of tuna.

Carbohydrates:

Studies have shown that your muscles take in carbohydrates much more efficiently after a workout. You should always include some complex carbohydrates as part of your pre- and post workout meal or snack. Some great choices are a piece of whole fruit, whole grain bread with peanut butter, or coconut water.

Water:

Dehydration can reduce athletic performance, endurance, and put unnecessary strain on the heart. Just a .5% drop in body water causes stress to the heart, and we get thirsty around 1% body water loss. Be sure to keep hydrated before, during and after any athletic pursuits, especially if they are outside in the summer. Plain water, a sole made of 32oz water and ¼ tsp Himalayan salt, and coconut water are your best hydrating drinks.

Creatine:

Creatine could help improve your performance, though it probably won’t help build more muscle. Take 2-3g of creatine for about 30 days leading up to your event, or during a time period where you have multiple events.

Vitamin C:

Vitamin C has been shown to decrease delayed onset muscle soreness. If you find that you are too sore to move after heavy lifts or a weekend race, take 1-2g of vitamin C.

-Lara Lattman, Nutritionist

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