Fueling a Fall Sports Athlete: Part 2

Last week I talked about how important hydration for athletes, and this week I’ll go over power foods that will fuel the body for optimal performance. 

Fueling a Fall Sports Athlete- Part 2

Two key players in an athlete’s diet are carbs and protein. Ideally, the two should often be consumed hand-in-hand. While fat is still incredibly important in the diet, carbs and protein work together to fuel and recover working muscles.

Carbohydrates help open up cell doors to allow glucose and amino acids into the muscles. Athletes need a consistent source of carbs in the diet to maintain adequate muscle glycogen stores. Sources of carbs can include: vegetables, fruits, sweet potatoes, beans, rice, oats, as well as other grains such as pasta, cereal and bread. Try to focus on more natural sources of carbs and less on processed, sugar-sweetened carbs.

Protein assists with muscle growth and repair. It stimulates synthesis and growth within the muscle and can prevent excessive breakdown and degradation of the muscle fibers and tissue. Protein can be found in meats, chicken, fish, eggs, cheese, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, nuts, peanut butter and additionally in supplements such as protein powder and bars.

Athletes should strive to eat every 2-4 hours. Consistent protein intake throughout the day can assist with good blood sugar control. This will help prevent any midday crashes in blood sugars and energy levels as well as properly fuel an athlete for an after-school practice or game. Prior to a big sporting event, it’s best for the athlete to consume familiar foods consisting of quick digesting carbs and lean proteins. High fat or high fiber foods may be too slow to digest and can cause an upset stomach when exercising. It would be recommended for an athlete to avoid pizza or fried foods immediately before a sporting event.

Eating protein and carbs within 30 minutes after a heavy workout or game will provide the greatest benefits to recovering muscles. During this period of time, there is increased blood flow to the muscles creating a better opportunity for nutrients to be absorbed. The enzymes that produce glycogen are also most active during this time frame so your muscles can quickly replenish their energy stores. Try to shoot for a goal of 15-45 grams of protein with a carbohydrate source as your recovery snack/meal.

Examples of recovery protein can include:

  • 3 eggs/6 egg whites
  • ¾ cup cottage cheese
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 3 ounces chicken, meat, fish
  • 3 ounces hard cheese
  • 6 Tablespoons peanut butter
  • Protein bar
  • 1 scoop of protein powder

Carbs can be enjoyed from fruit, sweet potatoes, rice, unsweetened cereal, whole grains, milk or a combination of foods! I recently gave a sports nutrition presentation to a local football team and made these Peanut Butter Energy Bites. They were gobbled up instantaneously!

Peanut Butter Energy Bites
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Ingredients
  1. • 1 cup dry, old-fashioned oats
  2. • 2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes
  3. • ½ cup peanut butter
  4. • ½ cup ground flaxseed
  5. • ½ cup chocolate chips
  6. • 1/3 cup honey
  7. • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Stir all ingredients on low in a mixing bowl. Cover and let chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Once chilled, roll into whatever size balls you prefer (1 ½ inch diameter is a good goal). If not consumed immediately, they can be stored in the fridge in an air-tight container and will be good for up to 1 week.
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Amanda  Figge

Steak and Potatoes

Why? Because doggone it…sometimes, you just need a good steak and potato meal! In the Figge household, we typically consume a plethora of lean white meat. I have nothing against red meat; it’s just not something I crave all the time. So when I do decide to make steak for dinner, I make sure it’s a darn good one! This meal offers a ton of fresh ingredients with a few convenience menu items. My motto is, if you can make at least 75-85% of your meal/plate from natural ingredients, then it’s perfectly fine to use some convenient food items. In addition to the steak and potatoes, I also served up a fresh salad using a ton of veggies from the farmers’ market.

Steak with Chimichurri Sauce & Seasoned Potatoes
Serves 2
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Prep Time
1 hr 15 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
2 hr 15 min
Prep Time
1 hr 15 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
2 hr 15 min
Ingredients
  1. Steak with Chimichurri Sauce
  2. • 2 lbs of skirt steak or flank steak
  3. • 1 cup flat leaf Italian parsley
  4. • ½ cup cilantro leaves
  5. • 3 garlic cloves
  6. • 2 tsp fresh oregano
  7. • 1 large shallot bulb, quartered
  8. • 1 ½ tbsp balsamic vinegar
  9. • 2 tsp lemon juice
  10. • Salt and pepper to taste
  11. • 4-6 tbsp olive oil
  12. Oven Baked Seasoned Potatoes
  13. • 3-5 lbs of red and yellow potatoes, quartered
  14. • 1 packet of Lipton Onion dry soup mix
  15. • Olive oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450*F. Place cut potatoes in a large Ziploc bag and add soup mix. Add 2-3 tbsp of olive oil and close bag. Gently mix oil and soup mix with potatoes so they are evenly seasoned. Line a baking pan with foil and non-stick spray. Pour contents of bag onto pan and bake for 45-50 minutes until potatoes are crisp-tender. Serve with steak and salad and enjoy!
  2. To make the Chimichurri sauce, blend all ingredients (parsley, cilantro, garlic, oregano, shallot, vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil) in a food processor. Season with salt and pepper. You can vary the amount of olive oil you use to manipulate the texture of the sauce.
  3. Slice flank steak into strips and place in Ziploc bag. Put in about 3 tbsp of Chimichurri sauce in bag and massage over meat. Let sit in the refrigerator for about an hour.
  4. When ready to cook, preheat your grill to medium heat. Grill meat about 4-5 minutes per side, turning once. Remove steak from grill and let sit on cutting board for a few minutes. Spoon remaining Chimichurri sauce over steak and serve.
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5 Diet Mistakes that a Protein Shake Can Help Solve

Protein shakes are quite popular these days. Whether you’re buying commercially made shakes from the grocery store or making your own, there are many benefits to incorporating protein shakes as meal replacements or snacks into your daily habits. In fact, including a protein shake into your meal plan can help prevent some common diet mishaps.

5 Diet Mistakes that a Protein Shake Can Help Solve

  1. Eating too many calories. The summer months serve as the host for county fairs, ball games, concerts and backyard BBQs, to name a few. While I see nothing wrong with the occasional ballpark brat, chronic indulgences in these types of menu items can quickly pack on the pounds during the summer. Having a protein shake can properly nourish your body and help control excessive cravings later on during the day.
  2. Skipping meals. There are many reasons why people skip meals and believe me I have heard them all! Skipping meals and even missing snacks is a sure-fire way to lower one’s metabolism. Ideally, you want to eat every 3-4 hours for a healthy metabolism and good blood sugar control. Having a protein drink for a meal or as a snack replacement is easy and convenient. First of all, it’s much easier and quicker to drink your nutrients than it is to sit down for a meal, especially if you are traveling or unable to take a break at work. I have also found with many of my breakfast-skippers that drinking a protein shake for breakfast was much easier than trying to have a bowl of oatmeal or eggs in the morning.
  3. Not eating enough fruits and veggies. The minimum recommendation for servings of fruits and vegetables is “5 a day”. I actually encourage more than this, but for some people, hitting the five servings can be quite the challenge. Blending fruits and even vegetables into your shakes can help you achieve the “5 a day” goal much easier, especially if you’re the type of person that is not fond of fresh produce. This is also a great tactic for getting your kids to eat an extra serving of fruits and veggies!
  4. Making poor snack choices. When you hear the word “snack”, most people generally think of pretzels, crackers, chips, popcorn, granola bars or sweet treats. In fact, most grocery stores put all these items in the same aisle and label it the “snack foods aisle”. The downfall of these menu items is that they are loaded with starchy sugars and preservatives and do not keep you feeling full for very long. Featuring protein in a snack can help keep you satisfied much longer and help control your portion sizes when you sit down for your next meal.
  5. Not eating enough protein. As a society, we are definitely not deficient in protein; however, we are nowhere near the optimal level of protein intake that we should be for outstanding health benefits. The average adult protein intake is typically about 50-70 grams of protein per day. New research indicates that intake levels at a minimum of 100 grams/day can help better control blood sugar levels, blood pressure and reduce muscle mass loss with the aging process. One scoop of protein powder typically contains 15-20 grams of protein and most commercial protein shakes contain at least 10 grams of protein.

Here is a quick go-to protein shake recipe that can get you started. Tune in next week as I help you decide which protein powder is best for you!

Chocolate Banana Protein Shake
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Ingredients
  1. • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  2. • 1 small banana (~4-5 oz)
  3. • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
  4. • 2 Tbsp of dry peanut butter powder (Hyvee brand)
  5. • 3-5 ice cubes (may need more for preferred consistency of shake
Instructions
  1. Shake will contain about 255 calories and 25 grams of protein making it perfect for a light meal or a nutrient-packed snack.
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Preggo Potatoes

Since I’ve become pregnant, I have my good days and not-so-good days with eating. While I haven’t developed any crazy cravings, my taste preferences have certainly changed. Despite being a dietitian, sometimes you can only eat what will stay down. As painful as it is to admit, I had one evening where all I ate was half a bag of tortilla chips. Of course on my good days, I focus on nourishing my body with foods that are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that are especially important for baby. Sweet potato, spinach, bell peppers and apple make this dish a nutrient powerhouse, and the bacon…well, that’s just added in for fun!

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Serves 2
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
1 hr 12 min
Total Time
1 hr 17 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
1 hr 12 min
Total Time
1 hr 17 min
Ingredients
  1. • 2-4 sweet potatoes (go for smaller ones, 5-6 oz. each)
  2. • ½ red onion, diced
  3. • 1 red bell pepper, diced (these are the highest in Vitamin C out of all the peppers)
  4. • 1 medium apple, diced
  5. • ½ cup dried cranberries
  6. • 8 slices of cooked bacon
  7. • 3 cups of spinach
  8. • Melted coconut oil
  9. • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400*F. Meanwhile, wash your sweet potatoes, then rub melted coconut oil over them and season with salt and pepper. The coconut oil will help your body better absorb the Vitamin A in the sweet potatoes.
  2. Wrap with foil and bake in oven for 45-60 minutes until soft all the way through.
  3. As potatoes are baking, heat a couple tablespoons of coconut oil in skillet. Add onions and cook for 5-7 minutes.
  4. Add peppers, apples and dried cranberries and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes. Add bacon and spinach last and cook and stir until spinach is wilted. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.
  5. Once potatoes are done, slice them lengthwise. Use a fork to push down the middle a bit and spoon mixture into potatoes.
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The Easiest Salmon Recipe You’ll Ever Need

If you’re like me, then the two things you want most out of your dinner meal are: fast and healthy. We are encouraged to eat fish at least once a week. Salmon, in particular, is a pot of gold when it comes to the vital nutrients we need. The omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon are great for eye health, brain health, and heart health, as well as reducing overall inflammation in the body. While the pre-cut fillets of salmon may be enticing since they are already perfectly portioned, you will often find that it is much cheaper to purchase the salmon whole and sliced by the pound.

Simple Dill Salmon
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Ingredients
  1. • Salmon (fresh preferred)
  2. • Mayonnaise (I prefer my homemade mayo or you can use a store-bought olive oil mayo variety)
  3. • Fresh dill, chopped
  4. • Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 450oF. Meanwhile, gently season salmon with a sprinkle of salt. Use a spatula to spread a thin layer of mayo over top of salmon. Complete recipe by adding an even layer of fresh dill on top.
  2. Bake in oven for 12-15 minutes or until salmon flakes easily with a fork. Serve with your favorite healthy side dishes and enjoy!
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Caprese Avocado Salad

Some days, you just want a healthy meal that only takes seconds to prepare. That day for me was Saturday. This fresh salad was the perfect balance of healthy fats, protein and crunchy greens that my body needed that afternoon. Avocados and olive oil are some of the best fats to feed your body. Tomatoes and arugula are great sources of antioxidants, and the fresh mozzarella cheese is low in sodium and adds calcium and protein to the dish. My body requires more protein than others, so I added 2 hard-boiled eggs on the side. If you are not familiar with arugula, I highly recommend it. It has a distinct crispness that aids in the balance of textures from the soft mozzarella and avocado in the salad. The dressing is quite rich, so you only need a small amount for the flavor to go a long way!

Caprese Avocado Salad
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Ingredients
  1. For the Salad
  2. • Arugula
  3. • Fresh basil, about 2 leaves, cut into thin strips
  4. • Tomatoes (I used Campari tomatoes)
  5. • Fresh mozzarella (soft)
  6. • ½ small avocado, sliced
  7. For the Dressing
  8. • 1 tbsp olive oil
  9. • 1½ tsp balsamic vinegar
  10. • Pinch of sugar, salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Arrange salad ingredients to your liking. Remember there’s no textbook way to make a salad!
  2. Whisk dressing ingredients in a small bowl. The dressing is strong so I recommend dipping your fork in the dressing and sprinkling it over the salad versus pouring the dressing over the salad.
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