Scoring big in the gym with nutrition and hydration

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Advantages of proper nutrition and hydration for Athletes before, during and after a workout:

  •  Tops up energy before a workout
  •  Delays fatigue during the workout
  •  Prevents the decline in skill performance and mental concentration
  •  Repairs the wear and tear on muscles
  •  Provides enough nutrients to recover and prepare for the next training session

Nutrition and hydration before the workout

Nutrition: The purpose of the pre-game meal is to provide an easily digested source of energy to be focused during the workout and prevent being distracted by hunger. As a general rule, you want to focus more on carbohydrate-rich foods and less on protein as you get closer to your workout to avoid feeling uncomfortable, stomach cramps, or moving with legs that feel sluggish. Carbohydrate-rich foods include bread, cereal, rice, pasta, fruit, and dairy products. Here are examples of pre-workout meals and snacks:

Time before the game What Example
3-4 hours Regular, full balanced meal
Moderate to high in carbohydrates and moderate protein
2 cups pasta topped with ¾ cup tomato sauce and 4 lean (3oz) meatballs
2-3 hours Smaller meal
High in carbohydrates and moderate protein
Tuna sandwich with vegetables and a fruit
1-2 hours Snack
Very high in carbohydrates and low in protein
1 ½ cup lower fibre breakfast cereal with ½ cup reduced fat milk (skim, 1% or 2%) and a fruit
Less than 1 hour Small snack
Mostly carbohydrates
1 fruit or 1 cup fruit and milk smoothie

Hydration: Drinking before a workout prevents dehydration during a workout caused by the sweating under your gear. As a rule of thumb try to consume 500-1000 ml (2-4 cups) of water within the 2 hours preceding a workout.

Nutrition and hydration during the workout

Nutrition: Foods eaten during a workout need to be digested easily while offering enough energy to fuel your muscles, brain and nervous system. This means you need to choose carbohydrate-rich foods that are low in protein, fibre and fat. It is recommended to consume 30-60 g of carbohydrates per hour of exercises. This can be achieved by consuming fruit, sports bars and drinks, diluted fruit juice, granola bars, cold cereal, pretzels, or crackers, all of which can be easily packed in your gym bag.

Hydration: Dehydration can impair mental and physical performance. Most athletes will need 400 to 800 ml of liquids for every hour of exercise to account for fluids lost with sweat; this is easily be reached by taking 4 large sips of water or sports drink every 20 minutes. Do not use thirst to dictate when you should drink as we don’t perceive it as well during a workout.

Nutrition and hydration after the workout

Nutrition: Your priority here is to replenish your energy stores and repair any muscle and tissue damage. After your workout, it is important to eat a meal or snack within 30 minutes of your workout and again 1-2 hours after that. All meals and snacks should contain carbohydrates to protein. Some post-workout meals and snacks include:

  •  Fruit, yogurt, and granola
  •  Peanut butter sandwich and a banana
  •  Chocolate milk, cheese string and a fruit
  •  Pasta with meatballs, side dish of vegetables
  •  Chicken stir-fry on rice with vegetables
  •  Egg or tuna sandwich with vegetables

Hydration: Don’t forget to drink regularly, even if your training session is done. Good hydration ensures you stay focused throughout the day.