Okay picture this… you have a road trip coming soon and you want to be prepared to avoid any surprises. You make a list of what to pack, how to get to the destination, and even check your tires the night before. It is 7 a.m and you’re already on the road, possibly listening to Adele’s new album. Suddenly you see that your gas tank indicator says low. How could you have possibly forgotten? How could it be? Your engine starts to sputter due to fuel starvation. Luckily, there was a gas station on the next exit and once you got fuel you were set to go again.
How does this connect to us? Well, food is fuel to keep us going throughout the day. Since we do not have an engine, we don’t necessarily start to sputter but our body does show signs of poor fueling.
Signs of poor fueling include low energy levels, recurring injuries, trouble gaining and maintaining weight, cramping during workouts, poor focus, poor sleep quality, weakness, and lethargy. It may affect your athletic performance since there is a risk of muscle loss, decreased response to training, increased risk of injuries and nutrient deficiencies. An athlete may notice they can’t run as long or fast or they can’t do the same reps with the same weight when they are properly fueling. “2”“3”
It is important to fuel our body before a workout, also known as a pre-workout meal. A pre-workout meal aids in not feeling hungry or lethargic before and during a workout or competition. It also helps in maintaining optimal levels of energy in the form of blood glucose for exercising muscles during the exercise. It is recommended to consume a pre-workout meal 1-4 hours before a game or workout. “1”
What does a pre-workout snack look like? Down below is an easy and quick recipe (also my go to).
Greek Yogurt Bar
- 1 cup of Greek yogurt
- 2 Tbsp of agave or honey
- Handful of berries of choice
- 1 Tbsp of crushed walnuts
- Parchment paper
- Rectangular pan (small or medium, depends how thick you want your bar)
- Combine the Greek yogurt and Agave (or Honey) in a medium bowl 2. Put parchment paper in pan
- Pour the Greek yogurt into the pan
- Smooth out the Greek yogurt with a knife or spoon
- Sprinkle the berries of choice and crushed walnuts on top of the yogurt
- Cover pan
- Freeze overnight
- Remove pan from freezer
- Rest at room temperature for 30 minutes
- Cut Greek yogurt into barks using a knife
- Store in a container in the freezer
I have three barks before I workout and save the rest for the week! It is a refreshing pre workout snack/meal which fuels me for my run!
What about the importance of a post-workout meal/snack? A post-workout meal assists in replenishing the athlete’s muscles for the next workout or competition. Due to the increase of blood flow after exercising, the muscle cells are able to absorb more glucose which maximizes glycogen synthesis within the muscle. Therefore, muscles are more receptive to recovery during the first 30 minutes after exercising. “1”
Some examples of foods to consume 30 minutes after exercising or a competition are non-fat chocolate milk, peanut butter and apple slices, or beans and brown rice. “1”
- What coaches and athletes should know about pre- and post- workouts and Nutrition. Mercyhealth. https://mercyhealthsystem.org/what-coaches-and-athletes-should know-about-pre-and-post-workouts-and-nutrition/. Published June 15, 2017. Accessed November 22, 2021.
- Stevie Lyn Smith MS. How underfueling impacts performance-and how to prevent it. How Underfueling Impacts Performance-And How to Prevent It. https://blog.insidetracker.com/underfueling-impacts-performance-prevent. Accessed November 22, 2021.
- Are you underfueling? OrthoCarolina. https://www.orthocarolina.com/media/are-you underfueling. Accessed November 22, 2021.
Article by: Dietetic Intern Carolina Rodriguez: Abilene Christian University