How to Fuel your Sport!

Sports Nutrition 101

Fuel Sources

  • Intro

When you consume a meal or a snack, the food you eat is digested in the body and nutrients are absorbed. This provides the body with energy to perform its necessary functions as food is transformed into calories.

To maximize athletic performances, it is critical that you consume enough calories from a variety of different food sources, since athletic activity burns calories faster than when the body is not performing physical activities.

A balanced intake of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats can provide proper proportions of nutrients and energy to your body during physical activity.

Carbohydrates are the most important source of energy for endurance and power. Proteins help build new body tissues, and fats provide energy when you are exercising at lower intensity.

  • Carbohydrates
  1. These are the best fuel source for energy production!
  2. Try to get most of your carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables because these are the healthiest sources of carbohydrates! Try to avoid refined carbohydrates and sugar as these are the unhealthy sources of carbohydrates, cause inflammation in your body and are often stored as fat.
    1. Healthy carbohydrates: fruits (apples, oranges, berries, etc.), vegetables (broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, zucchini), starchy vegetables (sweet potatoes, potatoes, corn, green peas), whole grains (quinoa, 100% whole wheat breads and pastas, rye, brown rice, wild rice, oats/oatmeal, buckwheat, triticale, bulgur, millet, sorghum and amaranth), beans
    2. Unhealthy: refined carbohydrates (breads, pastas, chips, sweets desserts, bagels, muffins, cereals) and high sugar products (cakes, cookies, donuts, ice cream, soda, juice, chocolate milk, etc.)
  • Protein
  1. Protein is what rebuilds and repairs your muscles after a tough workout or game and it also primes the pump to make sure the right amino acids are available to your muscles during the workout.
  2. Try to avoid unhealthy sources of protein and choose lean proteins instead!
    1. Unhealthy sources: fried chicken and processed meats (bologna, salami, etc.)
    2. Healthy sources: chicken or turkey, fish, lean beef, eggs, nuts/nut butters, full fat Greek yogurt and cheese!
  • Healthy Fat
  1. Fats provide you with energy and essential fatty acids that your body requires!
  2. Fats help your body use vitamins and keep your brain, nervous system and skin healthy. In fact, your brain is made up of more than 60% fat! So it’s very important that you are eating enough healthy sources of fat.
    1. Healthy fats: fatty fish (salmon, cod, trout, mackerel, etc.), nuts, natural peanut butter/nut butter, avocado, olives, olive oil, seeds (chia, flax, pumpkin, sunflower, sesame), full fat milk products (butter, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt – look for no sugar added) cropped-img_2304.jpg
    2. Unhealthy fats: Fried foods, trans fats (“hydrogenated oils” or “partially hydrogenated oils” on ingredient lists), refined vegetable oils

How to Eat for your Workout/Game

  1. Before a workout/game
    1. Try to eat at least 1-3 hours before a workout/game to give yourself proper fueling
      1. If eating 1-3 hours before, try a light meal with a moderate amount of carbs and protein and a little less fat.
        1. Example: An apple with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter and a hard boiled egg
      2. If eating 4-5 hours before a workout/game, you can eat more carbohydrates with moderate protein and fat.IMG_1458
        1. Example: baked chicken/fish with a side salad or cooked broccoli and ½ – 1 cup sweet potato (all with olive oil or butter)!
  2. During breaks
    1. Drink water!
  3. After the workout/game
    1. After strenuous physical activity, your body needs to rebuild and repair, and you need to replenish all the fluids you lost through sweating. The most essential thing to do is re-hydrate.
    2. The best thing to eat after a workout/game is carbohydrates and protein!
      1. Example: A piece of fruit with a string cheese stick and a hard boiled egg or a meal of turkey/beef/chicken with brown rice or potato/sweet potato and cooked green beans (all with butter or olive oil)

Extra Tips

  1. Drink enough water!
    1. Drink water (instead of sports drinks) 2-3 hours before your sport, during breaks and especially afterward to replenish your body
  2. Avoid sugary foods (cakes, cookies, candy, soda, sugared sports drinks) before exercise, your body will thank you later!
  3. Eat Breakfast!
    1. Skipping breakfast can leave you feeling tired and unable to concentrate; it also leads to overeating at later meals and snacks. Student athletes who eat breakfast perform better in the classroom than those who skip breakfast.
    2. Early morning practices pose a challenge because you don’t want to wake up 45 minutes early to eat. Try eating a snack right before you go to bed, such as fruit and peanut butter or string cheese with veggies sticks, or eat this in the morning, right after you wake up. Then pack something to eat after your workout if you have to go straight to class.

Options for Snacks/Drinks to include for Optimal Performance

  1. Drinks
    1. Water!
      1. You can add fruit to your water to add natural flavor – lemon or lime wedges, frozen raspberries or strawberries, etc.)
    2. Sports Drinks
      1. Buy the sports drinks that have little to no sugar. You can also replace the electrolytes lost from working out by eating fruits, nuts or seeds and drinking water – this is a healthier option.
        1. Powerade Zero, G2, Propel, etc.
      2. Snacks (P=protein, F=healthy fat, C=carbohydrate)
        1. ½ cup tuna salad made with 2 ounces of white albacore tuna (P) + 2 Tablespoons olive oil (F) + ½ cup raspberries (C)
        2. 1-2 hard boiled eggs (P) + 2 Tablespoons nut butter (F) + ½ banana (C)
        3. 1-2 ounces grilled chicken (P) + 2 Tablespoons full fat cream cheese (F) + a pickle (C)
        4. 1/2 cup plain, full fat Greek yogurt (PF) + ½ cup blackberries (C)
        5. 1 ounce dried beef stick (P) + guacamole (1/2 avocado with fresh squeezed lime and diced tomatoes) (F) + 2-3 cups raw veggies (C)
        6. 1 deviled egg made with 1 hard boiled egg (P) + 2 Tablespoons full fat mayonnaise (F) + a clementine (C)


Diaz, M., D.O. (2015, May). Sports Nutrition. Retrieved March 31, 2017, from


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