Whether it is training for a marathon or trying to increase muscle mass, sports nutrition seems to be a hot topic amongst my friends and family. Below are my answers to some popular questions. I have also included links to recipes for RD-approved recovery snacks, sports drinks and even homemade protein powder.
1. Do I need sports drinks?
Unless you are planning on engaging in vigorous activity for more than an hour, water is the best choice. For activity one hour or longer (think marathon running), sports drinks can provide a source of energy, electrolytes and help replace lost fluid. Look for a sports drink with about 15 grams of carbohydrate per 8 oz. Juice and soda are not appropriate choices as they can lead to intestinal upset and cramping. Look to consume fluids about 1-2 hours before, and every 15-20 minutes during and after exercising.
2. How can I change my diet to build muscle? Do I need to increase my protein intake?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions I get. Simply adding more protein to your diet is not going to build muscle mass. Cutting carbohydrates is also not a great idea, as they provide a source of energy during strength training. This spares protein for use in muscle building and repair. Unintentionally, the average American (or Canadian) diet is high in protein. You may not need to add any additional protein into your diet. Athletes require approximately 0.6-0.8 g protein per pound of body weight. After strength training, aim to eat a snack containing both carbohydrates and protein. It’s also important to spread your protein consumption throughout the day rather than eating a large amount at one time.
3. What about supplements?
Be careful with dietary supplements. Dietary supplements are not regulated the same way as food. The FDA needs to show that a supplement is unsafe before taking it off the market. Check out Informed Choice (www.informed-choice.org) for more details on supplements. In general, I am not a fan of supplements. Most of our needs can be met from food alone.
4. What are some good snack ideas?
The possibilities are endless! Below are some RD-approved recipes and ideas for workout snacks:
Bars, Balls & Bites
Crunchy Carb Sources
Sports Drinks & Shakes