I had the pleasure of speaking with a competitive hockey team made up of fabulous teenage girls on the weekend. Specifically, we discussed how nutrition can improve their performance on the ice, and their overall health. I gave them some overall tips to keep in mind, and some handouts with more specific snack/meal ideas.
I wanted to share some of the top themes here for you, as they apply to anyone doing any kind of physical exercise.
OVERALL THINGS TO KNOW:
1. CARBS: Leading up to a game/workout/race, eat a diet that is about 70% complex carbohydrates. NOT the bad kind of carbs (white bread, white rice, sugar), but the good kinds (fruits, veggies, brown rice, whole gains, oatmeal). Carbs store energy in your muscles and are your best fuel source.
2. EAT FAT: It sounds crazy, but fat is an important source of fuel for your body. Again, not the bad fats, but the good ones (examples include: Avocados, Natural organic peanut / raw almond butter, nuts & seeds, etc.).
3. LEAN PROTEIN: It's a myth that you need allot of protein to build muscle – muscle growth comes from regular training and hard work! Too much protein can cause dehydration, calcium loss, and kidney issues.
4. EAT A GOOD BREAKFAST: This applies to every day, but especially on game/race/workout days. Some good examples are oatmeal, a fruit smoothie with clean protein, scrambled eggs….
5. HYDRATE! HYDRATE! HYDRATE! Drink 24 ounces of water 2-3 hours before exercise; drink throughout; and especially afterwards to replenish your body. Water is best…not the fizzy kind! And not Gatorade – you are better off with a watered-down fruit juice or adding sea salt to your water.
6. RECOVERY: the optimum window to recover your muscles and energy level is between 30-60 minutes post activity. Make sure to eat healthy snacks and drink lots of water during this time.
7. SLEEP: Lack of proper sleep will affect your performance (not to mention can cause weight gain, stress, and anxiety!). Your body needs quality sleep to repair/recover.