Learn Nutrient Timing for Peak Performance | STACK
X

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for Our FREE Newsletter.

Time Your Fueling for Peak Performance

September 1, 2012 | Featured in the Back to School 2012 Issue

Must See Nutrition Videos


Pre-Activity

Consuming fast-acting carbs prior to physical activity allows you to work harder and longer. For an immediate energy boost, take in approximately 100 calories of easily-digestible carbs 15 minutes before a game. “Taking in a small amount of carbohydrate before you get started will help your body more effectively use additional fuel that you take in during activity,” says Kim Stein of the Gatorade Sports Science Institute.

Fruit and pre-activity sports drinks work well. But to prevent stomach distress, don’t overdo it—and avoid slow-digesting, protein-rich, fatty or greasy foods. Limit the amount of fluid you drink immediately before a game to a maximum of eight ounces; but top off your electrolyte levels, because once you begin to sweat, you’re likely to lose sodium and potassium. Failing to replenish them can result in cramping or dehydration, which will degrade your performance.

During Games

Your nutrition strategy doesn’t end when the game begins. You need to continue giving your body the nutrients it needs to perform well. When you sweat during training, practice or games, you lose water and minerals such as sodium and potassium, which can lead to cramps, dehydration, or an electrolyte imbalance that reduces your muscles’ ability to contract.

To avoid this, consume eight to 12 ounces of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes—preferably a sports drink rich in electrolytes, especially sodium, because it helps the body retain fluid. To maintain your electrolyte balance, drink a beverage with 110 to 220 grams of sodium per eight ounces.

When you engage in intense activity, you also burn through your fuel stores. Taking in some carbs during a game will help you maintain peak energy and performance. “Select a sports drink with about 14 grams of carbohydrate per 8 ounces,” says Lindsay Baker, GSSI Senior Scientist. Another good option: eat carb-rich foods, like a banana or pretzels, during halftime.

Post-Activity

Right after a workout or game, your body needs protein and carbs for recovery. “The half-hour after training is a really important time,” says Dr. Stein. “Your muscles are ready to repair themselves if you give them the proper nutrients.” To optimize muscle recovery and rebuilding, take in 40 to 80 grams of carbs and 10 to 20 grams of protein within 30 minutes after a game or workout. You also need to rehydrate, so drink about 20 ounces of fluid for every pound of bodyweight lost. To prevent cramping and dehydration, make sure your drink contains sodium and potassium.

Power your performance by checking out the full STACK Fueling Guide.

More Cool Stuff You'll Like

3 Nutrition Hacks to Improve Your Sports Performance

Sports nutrition is the practice of nutrition done with the intent to increase performance. As an athlete you are looking for every which way to...

6 Fruits and Veggies You Aren't Eating But Should Be

How Fatty Is Your Thanksgiving?

Building a Healthy Pizza: Tips and Recipes

How to Turn Nutrition Goals Into Actions

LeBron Cuts Carbs This Summer. Should You?

How the Glycemic Index Can Help Your Athletic Performance

The Skinny on Good Fat vs. Bad Fat

Do You Need Protein Immediately After Your Workout?

The Nutrition That Powers Joe Thomas's Iron-Man Streak

5 Drinks You Had No Idea Were As Bad As (or Worse Than) Soda

6 Ways to Power Up Your Oatmeal

Eat Junk Food Without Sacrificing Your Performance

We Tried Cricket Protein Bars. Should You?

Low Workout Stamina? Your Diet May Be the Culprit

Russell Wilson Wants You to 'Eat the Ball'

A Healthier Milk, Brought to You By Coca-Cola. Wait, What?

The 7 Best Nuts for Your Health and Performance

Pre-Game Nutrition: What to Eat Before You Compete

What You Need to Know about Fats

Why Can't I Stop Gaining Weight?

Coconut Sugar: What Is It, and Is It Good for You?

Is All Sugar Bad for You?

What You Need to Know About Protein

Macronutrients, Part I: Carbohydrates

An Athlete's Guide to Calcium

5 Basketball Pre-Game Snacks for Full-Game Energy

The Food Rules for Building Muscle

Eat Like a Champion, Part 2: How to Lose Fat Safely

The Meal Plan That Helped Shea McClellin Add 11 Pounds of Muscle

Study Ranks Paleo As Second-Worst Diet

4 Common Nutrition Questions Answered

Post-Holiday Chocolate Health Benefits

Avoid Pigging Out: How to Conquer Food Cravings

Make Rotisserie Chicken Better With 2 Simple No-Cook Recipes

Should Athletes Follow a Pescetarian Diet?

The 5 Foods That Will Rule 2015

3 Tips to Eat Healthy on a Budget

What Else Are You Drinking? The Truth About BPA Dangers

Got (Almond) Milk? How 6 Popular Milk Alternatives Measure Up

7 Pro Athletes Who Succeed Despite Having Horrible Diets

Cheerios With Quinoa: Coming Soon to a Grocery Store Near You

Build Muscle With This Diet for Young Athletes

Protein Powder Potato Chips? ProTings, Reviewed

Eat Like a Champion, Part 1: How to Build Muscle in the Kitchen