Sports Nutrition

Like you put gas in your car before you take it for a drive, you want to put quality fuel in your body before you exercise.

  1. Helps prevent hypoglycemia (low blood sugar): light headedness, needless fatigue, blurred vision and indecisiveness – interfere with performance
  2. Helps to settle the stomach, absorb some of the gastric juices and ward off hunger
  3. Fuels your muscles – from the carb you eat long before exercise and the carb you eat within an hour of exercise which enters the bloodstream and fuels the brain


Pre- Workout

Pre-work out meal should be carbs and protein.
If you’re keen on maintaining optimum physical performance, carbohydrates will need to play a major role in your diet. In simple terms, our muscle and liver tissues store energy in the form of glycogen which our bodies are able to manufacture from the metabolism of carbohydrates in our diet. Glycogen stores are directly proportional to the amount of muscle mass you have, so your overall size and training volume will have a direct impact on the amount of carbs you will need to fuel your workouts. Failing to top-up your glycogen stores or, even worse, not eating before a workout, will result in early fatigue, reduced coordination, and the dreaded “hitting the wall”.

The most important things to consider when choosing your pre-exercise carbs are that they are of good quality, and low-Glycemic. Research shows that eating a low GI meal ideally 2-4 hours before you intend to exercise provides sustainable energy and improves physical performance. Low GI foods are considered to have a rating of 55 or less on the GI scale (think oatmeal, whole grains, or legumes). Carbs too high on the glycemic index are more risky to eat before training because they can set you up for nasty blood sugar fluctuations that will leave you weak, light-headed, and unfocused (think sugary cereals or white bread).

*0.5 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight 1 hour before moderately heavy exercise or 2 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight 4 hours before exercise

Example: 120lbs= 60g of carbs (240 calories) 1 hour before exercise

½  cup plain yogurt (60 calories) +1 banana (105 calories) + ¼ cup Granola (90 calories)

Here are a few examples of healthy meals or snacks to try before your next workout:

  • Muesli with unsweetened yogurt and fresh peaches
  • Cheese and veggie omelette with a slice of whole grain toast
  • Sliced apple or banana with natural nut butter, or whole nuts
  • Hummus with whole grain crackers or rice cakes
  • A whole-food fruit and nut bar

Post- workout

Post workout meal should contain carbs and protein in a 4:1 ratio and be consumed within 30 to 45 minutes post workout.

Complete protein. Eggs, dairy, meat, quinoa, and soy have the highest levels of bioavailability because they contain all of the essential amino acids.

Good quality medium-high glycemic carbs to quickly replenish glycogen stores in the muscles and liver. It is essential that a combination of protein and carbs be consumed in the 2 hour window immediately after exercise to encourage your body to efficiently absorb the amino acids and glucose from the bloodstream into your muscle cells.

  • Homemade shake with organic whey or vegetarian protein powder and fresh tropical fruit
  • A handful of dried fruit with mixed nuts
  • Cottage cheese with a banana
  • Plain yogurt sweetened with honey or maple syrup
  • Pretzels and low fat cheese

You need to drink 4-6 ounces of water for every 15-20 minutes of exercise. That can add up to a lot of water! 
Sports drinks don’t hydrate better than water, but you are more likely to drink larger volumes, which leads to better hydration. The typical sweet-tart taste combination doesn’t quench thirst, so you will keep drinking a sports drink long after water has lost its appeal. However, they do contain electrolytes which may have been lost through perspiration. Coconut water is a great alternative to sugary sports drinks.
Muscle cramps are often associated with dehydration
Avoid energy drinks as they’re not needed if you’re fueling your body properly. Energy drink caffeine content generally ranges from 50 mg to a mind-blowing, perhaps literally, 505 mg per can or bottle. Long term use of caffeine, especially in teens, has not been determined and could pose major health risk later in their lives, such as obesity, hormonal issues, and cardiovascular health risks.


About Hannah Pidgeon, RHN

Graduated from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition in 2011. Consulting in Charlottetown, PEI. Mama to a beautiful baby girl.
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