Basic Nutrition for Sport and Health


Nutrition recommendations to facilitate sport & general health are very similar: A diet high in carbohydrates, with adequate protein & low in fat.

Carbohydrates are the main energy source our bodies utilize. Muscle, in particular, use carbohydrate, in the form of glycogen, as a fuel source during activity. In fact it has been shown that a diet high in carbohydrate can increase performance & endurance. It is important to re-fuel your muscle’s glycogen with carbohydrate after exercise so there will be adequate fuel for your next session. Sources of carbohydrate can be mainly found in the bottom 3 food groups of the food guide pyramid: Fruit, vegetables and grain. A diet rich in whole grains, fruit and vegetables is also recommended for general good health.

Some ideas to include carbohydrates in your diet

-Include fresh fruit & juice as part of your meals or snacks
-Steam veggies & drizzle with salad dressing or olive oil, toss with couscous or rice
-Make of smoothie with fruit & juice, milk or yogurt
-Snack on low fat granola or breakfast bars
-Dip raw veggies in salad dressing, humus, peanut butter
-Spread a bagel with low fat cream cheese, jelly or applesauce.
-Marinate veggies in salad dressing or vinegar, oil & herbs, grill and serve with pita, foccacia or French bread
-Toss pasta & veggies with your favorite marinara sauce or salad dressing
-Add beans & salsa to a baked potato
-Enjoy some cereal with milk

Protein is the building block of our body. With that in mind it is important to include adequate protein in the diet for general body maintenance and to support muscle tissue growth & repair. In addition, protein in conjunction with carbohydrate after exercise helps to better restore depleted muscle glycogen levels. Protein requirements are somewhat elevated for endurance athletes compared to moderately active people, 0.64-0.73 grams of protein/pound & 0.36-0.45 grams of protein/pound, respectively. Sources of protein include dried beans, nuts, meat, fish, poultry, dairy products, tofu & soy products.

Some ideas to include protein in your diet

-Use non fat or low fat cottage cheese, milk, yogurt & cheeses as part of a meal or snack
-Marinate chicken, fish, tofu or lean beef with salad dressing or soy sauce, olive oil & lemon juice
-Spread nut butters on bread, bagels or graham crackers
-Add tofu, shrimp or chicken chunks marinated in salad dressing, oil & vinegar to pasta or rice
-Sprinkle low fat dairy or soy cheese, dried beans & salsa on pita, tortillas or baked tortilla chips for a snack
-Add cheese, tofu or dried beans, such as garbanzo or kidney, to salads

Fat provides us with a lot of energy, but too much in the diet can be unhealthy. Fat also slows gastric emptying rate, the rate at which your stomach contents enter the small intestine. A high fat diet, especially before a work out, can lead to abdominal cramping. It is advised to consume a low fat diet overall, but especially before work out sessions or events. Sources of fat include oil, butter, margarine, salad dressings, mayonnaise, fatty cuts of meat, the skin on poultry & fish, full fat dairy products & high fat desserts or treats.

Some ideas to reduce fat in your diet

-Replace full fat dairy products with non fat & low fat versions
-Make it a non fat or low fat latte
-Buy lean meats & don’t eat the skin on chicken or fish
-Limit the use of fats & oils when cooking, instead use broth, wine & juice
-Use low fat salad dressings or limit the oil used
-Try low fat mayonnaise & margarines
-Watch the consumption of high fat desserts & treats
-Replace high fat marinades with low fat versions. Limit the oil used and consider using wine, broth or juice as part of the marinade.

Fluid is essential to our bodies. In fact mild dehydration can greatly impair your performance and ability to work out. It is recommended that an average person get 64 ounces (8 – 8 ounce glasses) of fluid a day. The more you exercise the more you fluid you will need. Additionally, high elevation, cold and hot weather will increase your fluid needs. Our bodies typically feel thirst after we have already lost water, so it is important to drink before you get thirsty.

Keep in mind that water is a great source of fluid, but it is not the only source. Consider using sports drinks, juices and soups as well.

Some signs of dehydration:

-thirst or dry mouth
-lack of or dark urine