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.

Must See
How to Perform the Euro Step With Iman Shumpert
Views: 84,980
Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds
Views: 37,127,207
Brandon Jennings: "Always Improve"
Views: 4,159,975

Featured Videos

A Day in the Life of NBA D-League Star Seth Curry Views: 69,070
Kevin Love's Cone Hop Basketball Shooting Drill Views: 9,456
Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 2: Laying the Groundwork Views: 133,452
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Perfect Dwyane Wade's Signature Euro Step
Views: 1,308,880
What Ryan Hall Eats for Breakfast
Views: 795,300
STACK Fitness Weekly: How To Do a Muscle-Up
Views: 778,676
Greg Nixon's Hill Training Program
Views: 705,782
Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,561,942

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Russell Wilson Wants You to 'Eat the Ball'

How to Build a Meal Plan to Suit Your Body Type

The Right Way to Gain Weight During the Off-Season

Surprising Muscle-Building Snacks

The Soccer Tournament Nutrition Checklist

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

Simple Nutrition Tips for Faster Workout Gains

Are 'Healthy Chips' Really Healthy? 5 Popular Options Examined

Are Chokeberries the Next Super Food for Athletes?

How Can Zero-Calorie Diet Soda Be Bad for You?

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

What You Need to Know About Protein

Study Ranks Paleo As Second-Worst Diet

8 Recovery Foods Recommended by Sport Dietitians

Performance-Boosting Snacks with a Satisfying Crunch

How to Turn Nutrition Goals Into Actions

Why Every Athlete Should Drink Tea

Avoid Pigging Out: How to Conquer Food Cravings

Big Breakfast, Small Breakfast, No Breakfast: Which Is Best?

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

How 100 Pro Athletes Like Their Eggs

Game-Day Nutrition for Soccer Players

Bone Broth Breakdown: Should You Eat This 'Super' Soup'?

Types of Yogurt: What's New and What's Best for Athletes

Post-Holiday Chocolate Health Benefits

Eat Like a Champion, Part 3: Post-Workout Nutrition

Why Your Gut Might Be the Most Important Part of Your Body

Fuel Up for Soccer Like the U.S. Women's National Team

Feed for Speed: 5 Foods and Supplements That Make You Faster

3 Tips to Eat Healthy on a Budget

5 Changes Fast-Food Restaurants Are Making to Become Healthier

Macronutrients, Part I: Carbohydrates

Halftime Snacks for Quick Refueling

Why Are People Drinking Charcoal?

Why Chicken Soup Strengthens Your Immune System

12 Grab-and-Go High Protein Snacks

Is It Okay to Eat the Same Thing Every Day?

Fuel Your Performance with Peas

4 Endomorph Diet Strategies to Accelerate Fat Loss

How and Why to Eat Mindfully

What You Need to Know about Fats