Rate Your Sport Nutrition Plate
By Dr. Beth Mansfield
Now that holiday season is over, it's time to rate your plate for running health and performance. The most successful runners rely on quality training and attention to nutritional details, including:
- Adequate hydration and electrolyte replacement;
- A diet of whole foods (not supplements), emphasizing vegetables and fruits, whole grains, legumes and low fat sources of protein rich foods;
- Timing of pre and post workout snacks and meals; and
- Using optimal foods and fluids throughout training and competition situations.
Many runners are aware of the importance of good nutrition, but when they sit down to eat, their eating patterns are often less than optimal. Planning a successful nutrition program requires that you assess your current eating habits to see where you could make some improvements and where you need to do some more homework to improve your nutritional knowledge.
Rate Your Sport Nutrition Plate
See what you're doing right and where you could make some changes to improve your running health, training, and performance.
Read each statement carefully.
Give yourself 2 points if the statement describes what you do every training day.
Give yourself 1 point if the statement describes what you do some but not all of your training days.
Give yourself 0 points if the statement rarely or never applies to you.
- 1. I eat breakfast to "break the fast," reload the liver's glycogen stores and get the brain and body ready to perform.
- 2. I maintain an energy balance that supports my sport performance AND body composition goals.
- 3. I have sufficient caloric intake to have optimal biological functioning (e.g. regular menstrual periods for women) and healthy sleep patterns.
- 4. To stay lean and fit I choose wet foods at meals and snacks instead of dry foods.
- 5. I eat one cup of leafy green veggies (broccoli, kale, spinach, swiss chard, beet greens) and ½ cup of bright orangey red veggies (squash, peppers, sweet potatoes, carrots) every day.
- 6. I eat at least 3 ounces (90-100 grams) of fatty fish (i.e. salmon, lake trout, mackerel, herring, sardines) TWICE a week to boost my omega-3 fatty acid intake.
- 7. I eat iron containing plant foods (e.g. leafy greens, beans, grains and cereals) with meat, poultry or fish and/or with Vitamin C rich foods to enhance iron's absorption.
- 8. I choose gluten-free starchy foods to boost my performance including legumes (chick peas, lentils, kidney beans), potatoes/ sweet potatoes, quinoa, rice/wild rice, and corn.
- 9. My diet is rich in plant based foods, in particular vegetables, to get my sources of naturally occurring dietary nitrates which improve sport performance (i.e. beets, leafy greens, spinach, salad mixes, coleslaw, broccoli, and tomatoes).
- 10. Before training I eat a small carbohydrate rich snack or a liquid carbohydrate meal one hour beforehand.
- 11. I make sure that I meet my "sweet spot", that is, the amount, type and mix of carbs that my gut can tolerate while meeting the energy needs of the exercising situation.
- 12. I take advantage of nutrient timing by consuming fluids and foods as soon as possible following exercise to enhance their uptake and delivery.
- 13. I kick start my refueling and enhance tissue repair by using protein rich foods (e.g. milk, yogurt, legumes, nuts/seeds, meat, poultry, fish and eggs) as part of my post work refueling plan.
- 14. I refuel my muscles with at least 200 calories of carbohydrate rich foods during the immediate post workout period and at regular intervals until my next meal.
- 15. I get post workout inflammation under control by including Omega-3 fats (e.g. fatty fish, omega-3 eggs and milk, flax seed) and flavonoids (in brightly colored berries, fruit juices, and apples).
- 16. I use salty foods at snacks and meals to help with fluid and electrolyte replacement after long/intense training sessions.
- 17. I weigh myself before and after long/intense training sessions to guide my post-exercise rehydration strategy.
- If you scored ≥30 your nutrition is dialed in for performance.
- If you scored between 20 - 29 you can make improvements for better health & performance.
- If you scored <20, you are likely underperforming because of your nutritional plan. It's time to make some changes!
The long-term goal is to change your eating habits so that you get a score of "2" on every question.
About Beth Mansfield and Peak Performance
Dr. Elizabeth (Beth) Mansfield, PhD, RD is a Registered Dietitian, Sport Nutrition Specialist, and Certified Exercise Physiologist with Peak Performance in Ottawa. Beth educates Canadian athletes on sport nutrition for health and performance.
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