Arizona Sports Medicine: The Importance of Nutrition

Post attributed to Joe King, FAST Facility Manager


Joe King, Arizona sports medicine expert and manager of our Foothills Acceleration and Sports Training (FAST) in Tempe, is here to give us advice for eating right when exercising:

Nutrition is often overlooked in athletic training, but practicing good nutrition can have a major impact on performance during and after an athletic event.

Think of your body as a car that needs fuel for a long drive across the country. Just as you would fill up your car with the right amount and grade of gasoline; you also need to fuel your body with the proper food before exercising.

The American College of Sports Medicine states athletes need to consume adequate energy during any high intensity or prolonged periods of exercise. Inadequate energy intake can lead to a loss in muscle mass, loss of bone density, and increased risk of fatigue and injury. It’s important to consume energy before, during and after exercise.

Pre-workout meals should be consumed 2 to 3 hours before a workout in order to give food enough time to properly digest. The meal should be low in fat and higher in carbohydrates to maximize the maintenance of blood glucose. The pre-workout meal will become the main fuel for your body during exercise. A great source of protein before an event could be a piece of fruit or even a light salad.

During an athletic event, research shows that consumption of carbohydrates can benefit an athlete. Sports drinks are a good example and can be consumed during exercise. They are quick to digest and the body to uses it as glucose replenishment during exercise. Glucose replenishment is important because glucose is found in your muscles, providing fuel for exercise.

Post-workout nutrition can vary depending on the type of activities. If an athlete has completed a long endurance event and is done for the day, the body’s glucose amounts will be low. But if you consume food within 1 to 6 hours after the event, there will be no detrimental effects. It should be mentioned, however, if you are expecting another game shortly after the last, it is important to eat a meal higher in carbohydrates and protein to restore your body. Any type of protein bar high in carbohydrates will help your body regain energy.

It’s also important to stress that athletes should consume foods they are accustomed to eating, to prevent any gastrointestinal difficulties that may occur. Additionally, plenty of fluids should be consumed in the hours leading up to the event.

Remember to stay hydrated throughout the entire length of the day. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests consuming water at least four hours before a workout. Water loss can happen even in cold temperatures and can lead to dehydration and decreased performance. Following a workout it is recommended to drink at least 16-24 oz. of fluid for every pound of body weight lost you’ve lost during exercise.

Overall, nutrition can have a major impact on sports performance and recovery. Remember, a machine with a “full tank” will operate much more efficiently during exercise. Practicing good nutrition can prevent injury and help you perform at your best.

Our sports medicine experts at Foothills Acceleration and Sports Training (FAST) know how to help get you on the right nutrition track. If you have questions about your workout nutrition, schedule an assessment today! To learn more about FAST, and what our certified trainers can do for you, check out the FAST blog!

Foothills Acceleration and Sports Training (FAST) is empowered by Foothills Therapy Partners (FTP).