Athletes may seem superhuman, but often what sets them apart from you (aside from some stellar genes) is that they are super disciplined. This discipline applies to their training and their nutrition.
So what do athletes do that you can too? Let’s look at 3 common nutrition hacks.
1. Athletes Hydrate Healthfully
The first nutrition hack brings us to our water bottles. Different sports require different strategies for hydration. In everyday life, the principles of proper hydration are also important. Even mild dehydration can affect concentration and energy levels. But over-drinking is also not a good idea. So how do athletes strike a balance?
First, athletes match the fluid they are drinking to their activity. Those exercising for an hour or less use only water. Those exercising for longer than an hour include electrolytes and carbohydrates as well. For more on fluids, click here. Those aiming for muscle building may include some protein in their fluid during strength workouts.
Secondly, they make sure they are drinking enough for their personal needs. They weigh themselves before a workout and after a workout and rehydrate 125%-150% of their sweat losses. This means for every kilogram you lose; you should drink 1.25-1.5L of water (or 2-3 cups for every pound lost).
2. Athletes Eat for Energy Use
Most of us get into the habit of eating the same way every day. Mostly this is because it’s easier, but also because external factors prompt us to eat even when we’re not hungry.
Athletes eat for their daily activity. They eat smaller amounts (and fewer snacks) on their rest days, more on their moderate training days, and they eat most on their heavy training days (larger portions, more snacks, higher carbohydrates).
Food is fuel for an athlete, and they use it accordingly. This doesn’t mean that athletes don’t enjoy food, but it does mean that they are not taking in more, or fewer calories than they need.
Try this out for yourself. If you know you have a dinner out, make that your big exercise day. And, if you know you are going to be sitting in an airplane all day, plan to drink calorie–free liquids, eat more vegetables, and keep your meals small.
3. Athletes Plan Their Snacks
Finally, athletes plan their snacks. If the snacks are prepared and in their training bag, they have something to eat when they’re hungry. But even more importantly, they have healthy food available to eat. Many athletes pack their bags with sports bars and drinks, but fresh alternatives like raw veggies, fruit, yogurt drinks, and cheese strings are also popular. To put this nutrition hack into practice
To put this nutrition hack into practice, try planning your snacks ahead and see what a difference it makes to your energy. Joseé Chouinard, the former Olympic figure skater, reports that she used to cut up raw vegetables for the week every Sunday so that they were easy to grab when she needed them. Great idea!
Nutrition planning is integral to achieve your optimal athletic performance. Gazelle Nutrition Lab delivers one-on-one or group nutrition counselling and consulting to both recreational and high-performance athletes. In addition, the Gazelle Blog is a free resource for healthy recipes and health tips. Have questions? We’d love to hear from you! Get in touch!