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Fueling for Athletic Performance and Recovery

Provision Nutrition Fueling for Athletic Performance
Proper fueling ensures optimal performance and recovery!

Nutrition is an important part of the performance puzzle. Practice and training are fun, but if you aren't recovering well from your sessions, it will be hard to place the same demand (or more) during your next session. Here are some general recommendations and some links to fueling ideas and options as you train for your upcoming season.

Food is fuel. If you are not giving your body the fuel it needs, how can you also demand that it perform in the manner that you are asking it? What you eat absolutely matters. The quality of calories (a measurement of energy) matters. The nutrients in the calorie matter! You wouldn’t put a Red Bull into your car and expect it to run—cars run on gasoline! Just the same, you can’t put Red Bull into your body and expect it to perform well. Humans run on nutrients and quality sources of energy.

Are you looking to take your performance in sport to the next level? Hoping to make varsity or help get your team to state? You cannot fuel with junk and expect to get there. It undoes all of the training and effort you are putting in to get to that point. Eat well to perform well.

Timing matters. Are you training first thing in the morning? DO NOT COME WITHOUT EATING!!! (read that again.) Your body needs fuel to be able to get the most out of your training. This could mean that you need to get up earlier to eat before an early session. Or it could simply mean that you grab a quick banana and granola bar and head out the door.

What about after you exercise? You used a lot of the glycogen in your muscles and part of recovery is replacing those glycogen stores (quick biology lesson: glycogen is glucose in its stored form. Glucose is sugar, which is what the body uses for energy. Any carbs get broken down into sugar and stored in the muscles or liver.). The quicker you get recovery fuel in, the quicker the rate of repletion and the more actual recovery your body will get. What does that mean? Bring a quick post-workout snack with you and eat again when you get home. Again, timing matters. Your post-workout meal can be lunch, but should be consumed, generally, within an hour of ending your training. Your post-workout snack is a must and should include both carbs and protein. One of the best post-workout snacks is 8oz of chocolate milk (dairy or dairy-free) as it has an excellent ratio of carbs to protein and is palatable—it tastes good and is easy to get into the body (no chewing required).

Consume AT LEAST 3 meals each day along with 2-3 snacks. A lot plays into this: gender, size, training, etc. As teenage athletes, you need to eat. Your body is growing rapidly and you are training at least once a day in addition to any summer activities you may be doing such as swimming, hiking, recreational sports, etc. Athletes do not eat only one meal a day.Athletes eat high quality, nutrient dense foods to take care of their bodies.

Eating to perform and recover. Now that you are eating more frequent meals and NOT coming to training or practice in a fasted state, what should you be eating? You can find some suggestions of pre- and post- workout snacks HERE as well as a round-up of ideas below. As mentioned above, what you eat matters just like when you eat matters. If you have not been eating well or have only been eating one meal a day, your first step is getting enough energy in your body based on your goals. If it is your pre-season, now is the time to start trying to build muscle before season begins. You will need to take in an excess of energy to grow muscle. If it is your off season, you can work on a lot of different things based on recommendations from your coach. If you are looking to recompose your body, your nutrition is a huge part of that, but it starts with taking in enough energy.

Recipe Round Up--here are some ideas to get you going and thinking about what you can easily make (yes, YOU. Not your mom, dad, grandma or grandpa.YOU need to be responsible for your nutrition).

*No Bake Energy Bites by Gimme Some Oven

*Homemade Paleo Granola Bars by Beaming Baker

*Protein Pudding Pops by Thrive Market

*Pre and Post Workout meal and snack ideas by Provision Nutrition

Pre & Post Workout Snack Ideas
Download PDF • 111KB

Hydration matters! Hydration matters at all times of the year, but ESPECIALLY in the summer! It is hot. Our body needs to stay cool. Part of this is dressing appropriately for training in the heat. But you may need tobring a water bottle or two to practice or training sessions. If you have an insulated container such as a HydroFlask (there are other brands available at most stores—even Costco if you are looking to purchase more than one), throw some ice in there and it will keep your water nice and cool, which will entice you to drink more of it when it is hot outside (warm water—yuck! Who is with me?)

If you aren’t a big water drinker, you have some other options to rehydrate during training and practice sessions:

*water flavored with fruits and herbs like these from Culinary Hill

*water flavored with a Nuun tablet. These come in all types, but I recommend the electrolyte ones for when you are in the heat.

*coconut water

*Not Gatorade by Wellness Mama

Generally, you do not need anything more than water unless you are exerting yourself (keeping your heartrate up) for more than 90 minutes. However, if having it is what helps you to hydrate, it is better than going without. I would recommend the “Not Gatorade” or a BodyArmor over Gatorade simply because it has less sugar.

When you aren’t training or practicing, you can (and should) still hydrate. Drink water throughout the day to aid in recovery. Eat plenty of produce or make a smoothie or protein shake (I, personally, love to make “protein ice cream” when it’s super hot out—protein powder, coconut water and a lot of ice, blended until thick!) Things that are going to work against hydration? Caffeine, specifically coffee, and sugary drinks and snacks.

If you are looking for some additional recommendations specific to you and your sport, please contact me to learn more about one-on-one training. I specialize in unique dietary needs such as gluten-free, dairy-free and diabetic-friendly to help athletes still perform their best.

Kelly Sherman, MS, NC, CGP, CPT, is a holistic sports nutritionist specializing in athletes transitioning from high school athletics to college athletics. She has a master’s degree in nutrition and is degreed in exercise science as well as a certified personal trainer. With over 20 years of experience in the field, she combines the best of both nutrition and sports sciences to best help her clients reach their potential. To nourish is to flourish!


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