Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Nutrition for Maintaining Strength All Season Long

Some athletes who come in for a nutrition consult might have some kind of body composition goal - usually these athletes come in with the goal to gain lean mass (muscle) or lose fat mass. Body composition goals are set for many reasons, and may be related to improving performance, but many athletes aren't setting these goals at the right time of the year, so they're sacrificing their performance.

  • The off-season is a good time to solidify an eating routine with better nutrition habits, and to meet goals such as losing weight/body fat or gaining lean mass. 
  • Once the season starts, athletes should focus on maintaining their weight for the most part, but many athletes have a hard time with this because of their busy schedules and high energy needs
  • Some athletes work hard during the off-season to increase their muscle mass and strength, but end up losing weight throughout the season, which can result in losing that hard-earned lean mass, increase injury risk, cause fatigue, and decreased performance during the most competitive part of the season.
  • Some weight loss may be expected early in the season as the practice schedule may increase, but if athletes are skipping meals and failing to recover properly, they will likely run into problems later in the season. 
  • Other athletes might have a goal to lose weight during the season, but this is more easily done in the off-season or early in the season and athletes who want to lose weight often aren't advised on how to lose weight without sacrificing performance. 

Athletes can follow these 3 tips to maintain weight and strength and perform well all season long:

1) Start the day with a well-balanced breakfast.

Many young athletes can get into the habit of skipping meals, and claim it's because they're not hungry in the morning, don't have enough time, or just don't know what to eat.

Breakfast skippers usually can't make up for those calories they skipped by eating more later in the day, which isn't good news for keeping body weight stable and maintaining lean mass. Some athletes can make up for the calories, but they usually end up overeating the wrong things at meals, or grabbing any convenience foods they can find after they've gone too long without eating.

Choose a breakfast that contains carbohydrates (toast, oatmeal, whole grain cereal), protein (eggs, milk, Greek yogurt, peanut butter, nuts, meat), and a piece of fruit or vegetable for extra nutrition.

An easy breakfast that can be modified based on an athlete's nutrition needs is a fruit smoothie. To make an easy smoothie, add the following ingredients to a blender and enjoy:

-Fruit: 1 cup frozen blueberries, strawberries, or peaches or 1 banana (try freezing slices for a thicker smoothie)
-Protein: 1 cup plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or 1 scoop protein powder
-Healthy Fat: 1 Tbsp peanut butter, ground flax seeds, or chia seeds (adding extra nut butter/healthy fats helps add calories easily if athlete has experienced weight loss in the past)
-Liquid: 1-2 cups milk and/or water (milk adds protein + extra nutrients).
-Extras: Add a couple handfuls of spinach for some added nutrition. Ice cubes and frozen fruit will help make the smoothie colder/thicker. Adding oatmeal before blending will also add some fiber and make the smoothie thicker.

Smoothies are a great way to add nutrition easily (for instance, if you don't like vegetables, you can easily hide several handfuls of spinach in here...), and they're simple to make and modify based on your needs.

2) Choose energy-dense/high-calorie foods, but make sure they're high-quality foods as well!

Sports training and competition isn't an excuse to eat whatever you want. Instead, eating a meal or snack every few hours and choosing high-quality foods is a better way to get in plenty of calories and good nutrition during the day.

The best snacks contain a mix of carbohydrate + protein or fat, so instead of reaching for candy bars, fast food, cookies or sports bars and powders, grab a whole food option such as:

  • Apple and peanut butter
  • Mixed nuts and raisins
  • Small bowl of cereal
  • Greek yogurt with berries
  • Hardboiled eggs and hummus
  • String cheese and grapes
  • 1/2 a peanut butter and jelly
  • Tuna on whole grain crackers
For high calorie options, choose foods such as nuts and nut butters, avocado/guacamole, cheese, eggs, and whole fat dairy. Jill Castle, the dietitian and author behind the book "Eat Like a Champion" (great nutrition reference book for parents of young athletes) recommends that snacks be 100-250 calories to help athletes meet their overall calorie needs for the day, but also be high in nutrients to help kids meet their vitamin and mineral needs for the day. This is a good guideline when searching out snacks (containing a certain amount of calories, but also being high in nutrition) because, for example, 250 calories of apple and nut butter is going to contain a lot more nutrition than 250 calories of chips or cookies. 

3) Prioritize recovery

Athletes who prioritize post-workout recovery are the athletes who stay strong all season long, maintain their weight, and can continue to play at a high level.

Recovery should be an all-day process, but post-workout, athletes should focus on 3 things:

  • Hydrating with fluids and electrolytes: drink plenty of fluids post-workout/competition and monitor urine color (lighter = well hydrated). 
  • Refueling with carbohydrates (body weight divided by 2 in grams)
  • Repairing with protein (15-20 grams post-workout)
If athletes are going home after practice, they should aim to get a balanced dinner that contains some sort of protein (chicken, beef, fish, beans, eggs, dairy) and carbohydrates (whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, whole grain bread, whole grain pasta/spaghetti/noodles, or starches like potatoes and sweet potatoes). If they won't be home within an hour after practice or competition, the athlete should definitely pack a snack that contains a healthy carbohydrate and protein (see tip #2!) and eat a real meal whenever possible. 

4) Meet with a dietitian!

Athletes of all ages and from all sports can benefit from meeting with a dietitian. From picky eaters, to special dietary needs, to body composition goals and knowing how many calories, protein, carbohydrates and fat they need in a day - a dietitian can help athletes set a nutrition goal that will help them perform better in their sport. 

Make an appointment today with the Sanford Sports Science Institute Dietitian by calling 605-312-7878 or e-mail her any questions at Elizabeth.Kuckuk@SanfordHealth.org

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Marathon Week Nutrition - Strategies to Run Your Best Race!

Sioux Falls Marathon weekend is fast approaching!

Next Sunday, September 11th 2016, runners from Sioux Falls and beyond will toe the starting line to run the Miracle 5K, half marathon, full marathon or marathon relay. This year, the race has some big changes, including a new start/finish location inside the Sioux Falls arena.

If you're running one of the Sioux Falls races, now is the time to really start thinking about your race week nutrition.

You don't have to be an elite runner to apply some science-based recommendations about carbohydrate loading and nutrition to your race week planning - your meals in the week leading up to a big race can really make or break your performance, no matter what your race goals are.

The Lowdown on Carbohydrates

When you run out of carbohydrates on a run, you can "hit the wall" or get that feeling of fatigue, where you think you can't take another step. Runners are notorious for eating a high carbohydrate diet, but during race week, it's important to note who needs to pay special attention to carbohydrates, why they're needed, when it's necessary and how many grams of carbohydrates are needed.

  • Carbohydrate loading is the traditional practice of runners focusing on eating carbohydrates in the days leading up  to their race to optimize their glycogen stores
  • Runners who are racing over 90 minutes should be thinking about carbohydrate loading. When we eat carbohydrates, it is stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles, and our muscles use this fuel primarily during a race. Having high energy stores won't necessarily make you faster, but it can help you delay fatigue
  • Research shows that as few as 2-3 days of carbohydrate loading in addition to rest (tapering) can optimize glycogen stores! You'll find so many methods for the best way to carbohydrate load, but one of the easiest ways is to make sure your mileage is low the week before your marathon, and focus on increasing your carbohydrate intake 2-3 days before your race. 
  • Start several days before your race by increasing your normal amount of carbohydrates from 55-65% to 70% in those several days before your race. This can easily be done by increasing your portions of carbohydrate foods (add an extra serving of carbohydrates during the day) and decreasing your protein and healthy fats.
  • This doesn't mean eliminating protein and fat completely for carbohydrates - you still need some good balance to feel great on race day!
  • The numbers end up being 4.5 - 5.5 grams of carbs per lb. body weight, sounds like a lot or carbohydrates...so just focus on those whole grains, vegetables, fruits, potatoes/sweet potatoes, and dairy foods as tolerated several days before the race by adding a serving of those foods at each meal and decreasing protein and fat servings. 
  • You don't need to eat extra food or more calories - you'll be less active during this time, so try to keep your portions and amount of calories you're eating the same and change the composition of your plate to focus on carbs. Some runners tend to think they can eat whatever they want the week of their race, or focus too much on carbohydrates and show up to race day feeling lethargic and heavy. Save that ice cream/pizza/donuts/whatever for after the race!

Many runners experience moderate weight gain of 1-3 lbs. due to the fact that glycogen stores water along with it. If you experience this, don't worry! Your body is just preparing itself for race day.

The Day Before Your Race

The day before your race, your eating plan should be to eat throughout the day, focusing on carbohydrate rich foods because you aren't going to be able to fill your glycogen stores in just one big pre-race meal. 

Choose easy carbohydrate options at each meal
  • Grains such as rice, oatmeal, quinoa, pasta
  • Baked and roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes
  • Bread/buns/toast
  • Pancakes
  • Bagels
  • Tortillas
  • Yogurt
  • Juice/sports drinks
Fruit and vegetables are also good carbohydrate options, but watch the fiber content! Bananas are always a good go-to fruit, and you can cook your vegetables to make them easier to digest. 

Instead of the traditional heavy pasta dinner, try eating your main pre-race meal for lunch the day before your race to ensure you have enough time to digest that food, and try having a lighter carbohydrate-rich dinner and a carbohydrate snack before bed. 

Pre-Race Breakfast

The morning of a half or full marathon, you should ideally wake up 3-4 hours before  your race to top off those glycogen stores with carbohydrates by eating a meal that contains mostly carbohydrates with moderate protein and fat. You want this meal to hold you over throughout your race without weighing you down, so the closer you get to the race, the smaller your meal becomes.

Again, stick what has worked for YOU in the past and don't stress out over it!

  • 1-4 hours before: 1-4 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram body weight (150 lbs/2.2 = 78 kg)
    • 1/2 cup oatmeal cooked in 1 cup milk, a banana, peanut butter, raisins, sweetened with honey and cinnamon and a dash of salt
    • A turkey sandwich 
    • 1/2 or full large bagel with peanut butter, honey and a banana
    • 2 pieces of toast with banana and honey, some sports drink or juice
    • 1 Nature Valley granola bar and a banana

There is a lot of research and information on carbohydrate loading, with results showing it is beneficial and other results showing it doesn't make a difference.

The bottom line is - if you can eat extra carbs in the days leading up to your race, it isn't going to cause you any harm and you might actually be able to help your performance, so it's worth a try!

Nutrition for a 5K or Short Relay Legs of a Race

If you're running a 5K or marathon relay, you'll be running pretty hard for those 3.1 miles or however long your relay leg is. As mentioned above, you don't necessarily need to carbohydrate load or focus on diet during race week as much as a half or full marathon runner, as you will likely be running under 90 minutes total and your body has plenty of glycogen stored away to get you through your race. 

Follow the same "day before" plan as a marathon runner, though you probably won't need as many calories. You should consider what you eat the day before the race - focus on eating healthy carbohydrates (potatoes, whole grains such as whole grain bread, pasta, rice, quinoa, fruits and vegetables), lean proteins and limit the amount of fats you eat

Again, avoid high fat and high fiber foods the day before if you know your stomach is sensitive - cook your vegetables, peel your fruit or choose fruit juice, and avoid those high-fiber grains and vegetables. 

A big breakfast on race morning might cause stomach upset, so instead, try to eat at least an hour before the race. Many people opt for easy-on-the-stomach carbohydrate foods, like a banana with peanut butter, toast and jam, a granola bar and a piece of fruit, or some sports drink/juice. Eat enough to hold you over throughout the race, but not too much that you're feeling stuffed and heavy at the starting line. 

Rules to remember on race week:

  1. Now isn't the time to experiment. You might have some tried and true pre-run meals you know sit well with you - go with those foods and relax!
  2. Everyone is different! Some people might be able to handle high fiber, high fat foods the day before a run or race, but others may do better with a higher carbohydrate, low fiber diet. You know yourself best, so if your running partner is eating a huge plate of pasta and you haven't eaten that before your run before, do yourself a favor and stick to foods you know!

If you have any last-minute race nutrition questions before your race, give the Sanford Sports Science Institute Nutritionist a call at 605-312-7878 or e-mail her at Elizabeth.Kuckuk@SanfordHealth.org

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Back-to-School Nutrition for Active Kids

This article was featured in The 'Hood Magazine in June, so it is worth posting here now that some kids are going back to school and starting sports, and because August is Kids Eat Right Month.

Back to school time is a great "fresh start" for things like school supplies and clothing, but it can also be a great chance to get kids into new habits, like packing snacks, making their own lunches, and eating breakfast on a regular basis. 

Returning to school can also mean returning to busy schedules filled with extra curricular activities and sports for kids and teens. Don’t forget to make good nutrition a part of that back-to-school routine to support growth and development, and help fuel your kids throughout the day.

Good nutrition has benefits beyond healthy growth and development. Breakfast, in particular, has been linked to better school performance, less weight gain, and lower body mass indexes (BMIs) in kids. A healthy breakfast sets kids up for healthy meals and snacks the rest of the day, and reduces the likelihood of overeating or choosing junk foods to curb their hunger later in the day.

Kids involved in sports have even greater nutrient needs. They require extra calories to fuel exercise or training schedules in addition to calories and nutrients needed to maintain normal growth and development. Plan for three balanced meals, healthy snacks, and plenty of water during the day.

Create balanced meals by including as many of these food groups as possible at each meal. For example, if your child likes toast for breakfast, add a piece of fruit and a source of protein, like eggs, to make the meal complete.

  • ·        Lean protein (meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, beans, nuts and seeds): Better options are usually grilled, baked, or roasted.
  • ·        Vegetables and fruit (mostly vegetables): Eat at least one serving per meal and snack.
  • ·        Whole grains (bread, pasta, rice, cereal, oatmeal, etc.): Choose products that say “100% whole grain” for more fiber and nutrients, and help your child feel fuller for longer.
  • ·        Dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt): These foods are a good source of protein and carbohydrates, and contain calcium and vitamin D to promote healthy bones.
  • ·        Water is important, especially if kids are exercising. Encourage kids to carry a refillable water bottle and refill it several times per day. Sports drinks should really only be consumed if kids are exercising for  a long duration, or very intensely, in a hot/humid environment - water should be the drink of choice most of the time. 
Because snacks can make up a significant part of kids’ diets, suggest healthier snacks that combine protein with a complex carbohydrate (whole grain, fruit or vegetable). For example, instead of traditional chips or cookies, go for mixed nuts and an apple, half a peanut butter and jelly or Greek yogurt with berries and granola. It’s okay to eat sweets or snack foods once in a while, but there are more nutrient-dense options kids should be eating most of the time to fuel their active bodies. 

Check out these 5 school lunches kids can make themselves, or these 10 back to school lunches, which are great for kids and adults with busy schedules. 

This article on Sports Nutrition for the School-Aged Athlete talks about making sports nutrition part of your daily ROUTINE, which is an important topic. Good nutrition only works when families are in a nutrition routine, where meals and snacks are either planned ahead of time or they know which options are healthy when eating out or throwing together a quick meal with what's available.

Sports Fueling for Kids is a fun infographic that emphasizes the importance of breakfast, snacks, and post-game meals!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Meal Prep 101 for Busy Athletes

One of the biggest roadblocks athletes report in their journey towards healthier eating is simply not having enough time in the day to cook or prepare meals and snacks.

Many busy athletes and their families have tight schedules, where they might be eating meals at strange hours, on the road and in the bleachers, and sometimes get so busy that they resort to stopping for fast food or relying on convenience bars and shakes for too many meals.

Fast food and convenience snacks are fine once in a while, but what if we all had a strategy for making sure we had healthy snacks and meals prepared ahead of time? What if we could throw together said snacks and meals during the week in a matter of MINUTES? I'm sure all busy families and athletes would be on board.

This is where a food preparation (or meal prep) plan comes in! 

By spending some time ONE day of the week washing, cutting, baking, cooking, and portioning food into containers, athletes and their families will not have healthy food to eat during the busiest timesof the week - they'll also save time by not having to cook so much, and save money by not eating out or buying pre-packaged snacks.

There are many of resources online for "How to Food Prep" - Lindsay from the Lean Green Bean blog writes about food prep every week and is a great source for easy-to-make, healthy recipes.

Having a plan is the hardest part of meal prep. The first time you meal prep, it's important to start out small and let your meal prep game plan change each week in a way that fits your schedule. 

1. Decide which day works best for you! Many people choose to make all their food on one day (like Sunday, before the week starts!), while others might choose two days (maybe by preparing half on Sunday, and a new batch of foods on Wednesday).

It usually takes at least one hour (usually more if you do it all on one day), to prepare your meals, so keep that in mind. 

2. Make sure you have plenty of storage containers. Storage containers with lids are essential for easy storage and transportation of meals.

3. Choose which meals you want to prep. Some people just want to prepare lunches for the week to bring to school or work, while others make breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and a random assortment of throw-together foods. One easy way to start preparing EXTRA food at dinner meals to bring for lunch the next day or the next several days. Many people also start out by preparing some "basics" that you can make throw-together meals throughout the week. Some good examples include:
  • Washed and cut fruits and vegetables - You're much more likely to eat these healthy foods if they're all washed and ready-to-eat. Some suggestions are: grapes, salad greens, carrots, diced vegetables for salads/omelets/stir fry.
  • Roasted vegetables - These can be easily thrown onto a salad or sandwich for more flavor! Toss some sweet potatoes, butternut squash, carrots, broccoli, or any other vegetables in olive oil, salt, pepper and any other seasonings you like and roast them in the oven until tender. 
  • Cooked grains - You can prepare whole grains, such as rice and quinoa ahead of time to throw into salads or for easy grain bowls.
Check out some easy whole grain bowl recipes!
  • Protein options - Having some protein options ready can be a huge life-saver for athletes. Keep it simple by making chicken breast, hard-boiled eggs or scrambled egg muffins, lean ground beef, bacon, or have some lunch meat on hand. 

  • Breakfast foods - If you're typically a breakfast-skipper, preparing some easy breakfast options can be a huge time saver.
4. Make a list and go shopping - This may be the most dreaded part of meal prep for people who don't go into the grocery store weekly (or more than once per week!), but this part becomes easier each week as you figure out what works for your schedule, and which basics you KNOW you need to get you through the week.

Make a list of ingredients you would need for specific recipes you want to make, and a list of "basics" you want to have at hand (grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, dairy, etc.)

If you're a beginner, don't be overwhelmed! It will get easier, and you can take satisfaction in knowing you will have healthy options to eat throughout the week. Good nutrition can have an immediate impact on sports performance - if you eat well and fuel your body with healthy foods, you will feel better and perform better, so start today!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Is Your Snack Holding You Back? Tips for Packing a Snack Made for an Athlete

Athletes love to snack, but when speaking with young athletes about snacking, the first foods that come to mind are pre-packaged salty snacks and sweet treats. Instead of wanting to know which foods are healthy, which foods they should avoid, and what the healthier alternatives to their favorite snacks are, young athletes often get stuck in the habit of reaching for junk foods in-between meals - that's what everyone is doing! Most active people and young athletes know which foods aren't necessarily healthy without being told. When they're asked what snack foods they reach for, they're usually laughing over Poptarts or Cheetos, but even if that's what everyone else is reaching for, those junk foods aren't made to fuel an athlete's body. Putting the right fuel in our bodies helps us push harder and get stronger in our sport, so even though fruit and nuts aren't cool, those foods are going to make you a better athlete, while those junk foods might be holding you back.

Unhealthy snacking isn't uncommon - snacking has become much more popular and widely accepted, and many people (not just athletes) have moved from eating 3 main meals a day to 5-6 mini meals throughout the day or eating several smaller meals and several snacks per day.

An online poll found:
  • Snack food sales are increasing globally, not just in the U.S. 
  • Many people are snacking at least once per day, and the most popular snacks globally are chocolate and fruit
  • The most popular snack in North America is chips and chocolate
  • People are snacking to satisfy that between-meal hunger they get from 3 square meals...AND people are also eating more snacks to replace meals - instead of regular meals, they might just be grazing throughout the day.
Many athletes, people training for a certain event or race, and very active people may have higher calorie needs and snacking can help those people meet their calorie and nutrient needs...but they shouldn't be replacing a well-rounded vegetable-protein-starch meal with chips and chocolate candy. If athletes are hungry between meals, snacks should be more than just a package of junk foods - snacks are an opportunity add nutrition. Athletes should ask themselves, "How can I make this snack or meal more nutrient-dense?" because every eating opportunity is an opportunity to fuel your body for practice, competition, or recovery.

One athlete asked, "When does a healthy snack become unhealthy?" (Such as adding caramel to apple slices). 

This snack isn't necessarily unhealthy, but caramel, just like any sweet/candy/sugary treat is a "sometimes food". You could lower the amount of sugar in the snack and add some protein and healthy fats (which would make the snack a healthier option) by swapping out the caramel with a healthier side.

For example, you could make your own cinnamon dip with Greek yogurt, peanut butter and cinnamon. You could dip the apples in almond butter or have some cheese slices or hard-boiled egg on the side.

Snacking tips for athletes:

  1. Pairing carbohydrates with protein can increase satiety and keep blood sugar levels even.
  2. Eating protein throughout the day (including that post-workout snack) can help promote muscle protein synthesis. Don't forget the carbs, though! Adequate carbohydrate intake allows your body to spare the protein you eat to promote recovery and build muscle. 
  3. If there's several hours between the snack and your next meal, choose a larger snack with several different food groups, containing protein and healthy fats to hold you over, plus some carbs to give you energy.  
  4. If you just need to be held over for a short time before your next real meal (60-90 minutes), choose a smaller snack (100-200 calories). 
  5. For athletes with a weight  gain goal, larger snacks can act as "mini meals" to help them add calories to your day. Add high-calorie foods such as nuts/nut butter and full fat dairy to snacks and meals. 
  6. For athletes with a weight loss goal, eating smaller snacks and choosing crunchy vegetables and fruit, which have a high water and fiber content can help keep them full.
    •  Crunchy foods usually take a little bit longer to eat, too, so instead of reaching for a 100-calorie bar or packet of snacks, choose vegetables and/or fruit paired with some protein. 
½ - 1 cup Greek yogurt
Apple or banana
1 – 2 Tbsp peanut or almond butter
½ cup oatmeal
2 Tbsp – ¼ cup hummus
1 – 2 slices whole grain toast
10-30 almonds, cashews, walnuts, etc.
½ - 1 bagel
1 piece of string cheese
1 cup raw baby carrots
½ - 1 cup cottage cheese
Wheat crackers (Triscuits, Wheat Thins)
Beef jerky
1 cup berries
¼ - 1 cup edamame
Corn  tortilla
Hardboiled eggs
Sweet potato
Lean deli meat (turkey, chicken, ham, roast beef)
Whole grain cereal
Graham crackers


For more ideas, check out these smart snacking ideas from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics!

Strive for excellence in each meal - if you're putting in the work at practice and competition, put some thought into what goes on your plate throughout the day. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

3 Summer Nutrition Goals for Offseason Athletes

During the summer, athletes can go from having a hectic, crazy-busy schedule, to having more time off and less hours spent training. Summer is a great time to relax and recover from a hard year of training, but it is also a great time for athletes to pay closer attention to their diets, getting into a routine of healthy eating that will stick with them throughout the rest of the year.

1. Enjoy different foods by eating seasonally

Summertime fruits and vegetables are readily available at your local farmer's market, and they taste even better when they're in season.

Shopping at the farmer's market is also a great way to branch out and try a new vegetable this summer - pick out a new vegetable, find a recipe utilizing that recipe and make it! The offseason is the best time to do this, because you have more time to branch out and try new foods and recipes.

Athletes tend to fall into habits, eating the same foods during the season day in and day out, so it's important to add some variety to your diet while you can, trying out some new recipes you can fall back on when you're busier during the season.

2. Get in a habit of "food prepping"

One of the biggest complains busy athletes have is that they just don't have enough time to eat healthy throughout the week. Doing some "food prep" one or two days a week is one of the best ways to always have healthy meal and snack options on hand. Take one day to gather ingredients at the grocery store and a few hours to wash and cut vegetables, make grains, cook proteins, and bake will leave you with plenty of healthy options to make meals throughout the week.

Check out this beginner's food prep guide by Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean.

3. Set an off-season body composition goal: maintain, lose, or gain weight without sacrificing performance.

Summer is the off-season for many athletes, so many use this time as a vacation from their training and their  normal healthy diets, leaving them feeling a little sluggish and/or heavy once training starts up again.

The off-season should be a time for rest and recovery, but it's also a good time to make body composition goals without sacrificing training. Even those who just want to maintain weight shouldn't use the summer as an excuse to eat whatever they want, as a decrease in activity and an increase in food can result in unwanted weight gain.

Follow these offseason fueling tips for maintaining weight or making body composition changes, such as adding lean mass or losing weight, during the summer:

Maintaining weight

  • Less activity in the summer means you don't need as many calories or carbohydrates during this summer to reduce weight gain:
    • Reduce carbohydrates on off days, and eat a higher carbohydrate diet on high intensity days. 
    • Decrease portion sizes, especially from desserts, fast foods, creamy sauces and salad dressings
    • Hydrate with water instead of juice or sports drinks

Weight Gain

  • Gaining 0.5 to 1 pound per week is a realistic goal.
  • You add lean mass by increasing calories and providing an adequate training load, meaning you should have a plan to strength train throughout the summer.
  • Eat often throughout the day (every 2-3 hours)
  • Add calorie-dense foods, such as nuts, trail mix, peanut butter, granola, olive oil, avocado, full fat dairy and include beverages with calories, such as milk during meals to add calories to your day.

Weight loss

  • Losing 1-2 pounds per week is a realistic goal.
  • Including protein-rich foods (20-30 grams per meal through lean meat, eggs, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, beans) is a good way to stay satisfied throughout the day and maintain lean muscle mass
  • Avoid refined carbohydrates and sugary drinks like sports drinks, soda and juice
  • Don't skip meals to cut calories - instead, front load your diet by eating a substantial breakfast, lunch and snacks during the day when you're most active vs. limiting calories during the day. You may get over-hungry by the end of the day and end up eating more at night than if you stayed satisfied by fueling yourself throughout the day. 

Meeting with a dietitian can help you meet your body composition goals, make a plan for during the season, brainstorm food prep ideas, and perform better during the season. 

Make an appointment to speak with a Sports Dietitian today by calling the Sanford Sports Science Institute Dietitian at 605-312-7878

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Staying Hydrated This Summer in 5 Easy Steps

Summer time is a great time to be active outside while it's sunny and warm...but it's important to stay hydrated!

It's time to move activities outdoors. No matter what the activity is, if athletes are spending time outside being active this summer, they're probably going to get a lot sweatier, making it important that they pay close attention to hydration.

When our bodies get dehydrated, we lose the ability to regulate body temperature, making us susceptible to heat illness. Dehydration also has a negative impact on exercise performance, so starting a workout, practice or game in a dehydrated state means athletes aren't getting the most out of that session and are at a greater risk for heat illness.

If athletes are going to be active/exercising outside, they can follow the steps below to stay hydrated all day long and avoid performance deficits this summer.

5 Easy Steps to Stay Hydrated

1. Find out how much water you should be drinking in a day when you're not active. 

One basic equation for finding out how much fluid you should be drinking in a day is to divide your body weight in pounds by 2, and drink that much fluid in ounces per day. 

For example, a 150 lb. athlete would need 150/2 = 75 ounces of water per day, or 9.5 cups (8-ounce cups) per day. 

Fluids includes drinks other than water (including milk, juice, broth, etc.), but athletes should really be focusing on drinking at LEAST the recommended amount of fluid in pure water per day if they're not active, plus EXTRA for exercise. 

2. Monitor your hydration status.

At the Sanford Sports Science Institute, we encourage athletes to monitor the color of their urine to check on their hydration status. Lighter urine usually means an athlete is properly hydrated, so before going into a practice or game, athletes should make sure they are properly hydrated, especially if they're going to be outside on a hot day. 

3. Add extra fluid for the sweat lost during exercise. 

Athletes who follow the above recommendations will likely get enough water during the day on an inactive day, and go into their workout or competition adequately hydrated, but this doesn't mean they don't have to replace the fluid lost in sweat during their workout. When we sweat, we lose water and electrolytes, making it important to drink plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise. 

One tip athletes can follow is to bring their water bottle to every workout and competition and take several large drinks of water at every break they get, or every 10-15 minutes. 

Athletes can also monitor how much weight they lose during a workout or competition by weighing themselves before and after - any more than 2% weight loss indicated inadequate fluid consumption.

After the workout, replace the water lost in sweat by drinking 16-20 ounces of water for every 1 lb. of weight lost. By neglecting to replace the fluid lost during exercise, athletes may go into their next session in a dehydrated state. 

3. Start drinking plenty of water early in the day. 

A great tip for athletes to follow is to drink water right when they wake up, especially if they have a workout later in the day. 

Some recommendations say to drink 2-5 cups of water, several hours before a workout or competition, especially if it is going to be outdoors in the heat.

For many busy athletes, starting the day off with several glasses of water becomes a healthy habit to promote hydration and start the day off on the right food. 

4. Make note of the signs of dehydration and take action early. 

Thirst isn't always the best indicator of when athletes should drink water - sometimes you don't get thirsty until you're dehydrated. Other signs of dehydration include headache, dry skin, dry/sticky mouth, constipation and feeling tired or less energetic than usual. 

If you're experiencing any of those symptoms, drink up! Carry your water bottle with you and refill it several times a day, especially on days where you'll be spending time outdoors in the heat. Some very intense or prolonged (>90 minute) workouts in the heat may require a sports drink or some sort of electrolyte replacement beverage. 

5. Load up on fruits and vegetables!

Summer is the perfect time to load up on fresh fruits and vegetables, which are not only rich in nutrients, but also have a high water content. The foods you eat during the way will contribute to your hydration status, but during the summer, seasonal fruits like watermelon, strawberries, pineapple, zucchini, etc. have a high water content, making them extra hydrating. 

Knowing how much you need to drink throughout the day, monitoring your hydration status, drinking plenty of water early in the day, knowing the signs of dehydration and loading up on water-rich fruits and vegetables are 5 easy steps you can take to stay hydrated, feel good and perform well all summer long!

Sweat testing at the Sanford Sports Science Institute
Find out more by calling 605-312-7878!
Athletes of all ages and from every sport who have access to the Sanford Fieldhouse can get their sweat fluid and electrolyte loss evaluated to receive individual-specific hydration and nutrition recommendations. These recommendations help athletes prepare for, manage, and recover from sweat fluid and electrolyte losses incurred during training or competition. Call today at 605-312-7878 to find out more on how this test would benefit you or your athlete.