Choose wisely when it comes to protein. Sources that are high in fat, like red meat, dark meat poultry and anything that’s heavily processed inhibit the muscles’ ability to respond to energy demands for four hours. Eating these foods before training or competition can negatively affect performance by causing a lethargic feeling throughout the activity. Low-quality proteins can also increase total triglycerides and the overall risk for certain cancers.
Avoid protein sources high in saturated fat after workouts. Stick with low-fat or fat-free plain yogurt, fish, beans, nuts, white meat chicken or turkey. Make it easy by packing a string cheese stick and a baggie of unsalted almonds and walnuts for a great snack after a game. Add some 100-percent whole grain pretzels to boost glucose levels back up.
Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD, is a Wellness Manager and Nutritionist at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, Department of Disease Reversal, where she oversees the nutrition component of the Cleveland Clinic's Lifestyle 180 program. Kirkpatrick presents nationally on a variety of nutrition and wellness-related topics; is a regular guest on The Dr. Oz Show; and also writes for The Huffington Post, DrOz.com and 360-5.com.