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Natural Awakenings San Diego

Fueling Your Machine: Setting Yourself Up For Success

Oct 01, 2012 03:33PM ● By Sandra Blackie

Whether you are a weekend warrior or you have taken your sport to a higher, competitive level, here are some ways to stay energized during your practice, well-fueled on game day, and recovered when you’re done.

Get a good night’s sleep in a dark, cool room. This means 7 to 9 hours of good quality, uninterrupted sleep. Avoid alcohol and going to bed with food in your stomach, as these often interfere with deep sleep. Rest and recovery is key for optimal performance.

Stay hydrated. I use a formula that suggests drinking a minimum of 50 percent of your body weight in ounces of pure water each day. For every 15 minutes of activity, add 4 to 6 ounces. Avoid drinking caffeine and alcohol as they cause the body to excrete excess fluids.  Poor hydration affects performance and may cause cramping or heat-related issues, even when you’re indoors and out of the sun. If you weigh yourself before and after the game and you have lost weight, drink 16 ounces for every pound lost.

Eat a pre-game meal that is high in complex carbohydrates with a little protein. The complex carbohydrates will give you long-term energy and the protein will help sustain lean body mass and lower recovery time. Good carb options include yams, rice, quinoa and multi-grain bread. Lean proteins include fish, poultry, eggs or lean beef.  This should be a low fat meal. Allow three hours before any activity to ensure proper digestion.

Eat your post-game meal within 45 minutes after the game. Your meal should be a mix of vegetables, whole grains, protein and fat. This will help replace the body’s energy stores, kick start the muscle building and repairing process, and encourage rapid recovery. Replace any potassium or sodium that has been lost during exercise by using foods. Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of potassium. Replace sodium by eating salty foods.

Paying attention to these guidelines can minimize injury, help you get the most enjoyment out of your activities and enhance your performance.

Sandra Blackie is the owner of Freedom of Fitness, a personal training and nutrition counseling service. She has over 25 years of experience in nutrition, athletics, personal training, lifestyle counseling and public speaking. She offers a well-rounded seminar series to corporations and is available for special events, seminars and health fairs. For more information, call 858-273-4151 or visit

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