Healthy Choices for Your Athlete’s Best Performance
Kim Wallace, Gatorade
Your athlete needs to build strength and lean muscle to be the best he or she can be both in the game and in the weight room. To help your athlete reach his or her muscle-building potential, you’ll need to provide him or her the necessary pre- and post-workout fuel to help the body prime and recover.
A combination of the right foods offered at the right times gives your athletes ample energy to train hard and recover quickly from intense workouts while maximizing the muscle-building process. Fueling the body before, during and after training maximizes the benefits of your athlete’s training.
The Before: Pre-Workout Fuel to Get Your Athlete Primed to Perform
Don’t let your athlete head off to early morning practice on an empty stomach. Most of the energy your athlete got from the previous night’s dinner is gone by morning, according to the Mayo Clinic. If your athlete jets off to practice without getting even a few bites of food, his or her low blood sugar levels can make him or her feel too weak to train.
Feeding your athlete the right mix of healthy food is essential to his or her performance. Even the simplest pre-workout snacks will prepare your athlete for the hardest workout.
Stock your fridge and pantry with these easy-to-prepare, healthy pre-workout foods:
- Energy gels
- Whole-grain bread
- Natural peanut butter
- Energy bars
- Gatorade 01 Prime
The During: Keep Your Athlete Hydrated During Training
If your athlete’s practice sessions last longer than 45 minutes, as most do, make sure he or she has access to plenty of fluids during break times. During tough workouts, your athlete sweats to keep the body cool. As sweat leaves the body, so do essential electrolytes — potassium, calcium, sodium and chloride — that need to be replaced in order for the body to keep its heart rate and temperature steady, according to the Mayo Clinic.
To help your athlete beat dehydration, equip him or her with the fluids he or she needs. Sports drinks, which have the right combination of electrolytes and carbohydrates, are the best option for athletes working out for long periods of time. Encourage your athlete to get a gulp every 15 to 20 minutes during practice.
The After: Post-Workout Fuel to Repair and Restore Tired Muscles
For athletes, eating after a tough workout is essential for muscle repair. After a training session, the body needs protein to restore damaged muscle tissue, according to the Mayo Clinic. Remind your athlete to drink a sports drink or eat an energy bar after training to help maximize both recovery and the muscle-building process.
Make it easy for your athlete to get the post-workout protein he or she needs by keeping your kitchen stocked with:
- Lean meats, such as boneless, skinless turkey breast
- Low-fat cheese
- Cottage cheese
- Energy bars
- Gatorade 03 Recover