Peak Performance Nutrition: A Primer
Hannah Feinberg, RDN
High Performance Nutrition Coach
Nutrition is the study of how your body utilizes the nutrients within the foods you eat and the effects these foods have on your health, performance, and disease. At its most basic level, the foods you eat provide the energy necessary to fuel all of your body’s functions. Nutrition is one of the factors, often overlooked, that plays a vital role in all phases of your training and competition. Understanding what, how much, and when to eat/drink will allow for you to enter workouts properly fueled, replace any nutrition burned while training, and provide the necessary ingredients to recover and build strength and muscle. Regimenting your nutrition plan will allow for you to derive the maximum benefits from your strength and conditioning and sailing programs.
Poor nutritional status may be indicated if you have a lack of or poor quality sleep, dark colored urine, changes in menstruation (female athletes only), frequent illness or injury, abnormal fatigue, large increases/decreases in body weight, amongst others.
There are two topics I want to briefly discuss that all of our athletes can benefit from. First is what I like to refer to as the Food Group Rule - for any meal you must consume foods from 3 of the 5 food groups and for snacks you must consume foods from 2 of the 5 food groups. The food groups are fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy (or dairy alternatives). This can be as simple as cheerios with milk and a banana or as complex as a gourmet meal with pan fried salmon, rice pilaf, and braised greens. The purpose of this rule is to mindlessly guarantee balance and variety in your diet, which is the foundation of a high performance nutrition plan. All of the foods you eat contain a different matrix of macro and micronutrients, which when consumed in combination maximizes the nutrient potential of your diet and contributes to improvements in sport performance.
My second recommendation is to ALWAYS eat something that contains high quality carbohydrate and protein immediately after (within 30 minutes) any type of exercise, whether that be in the gym or on the water. Good options include: low-fat chocolate milk; greek yogurt + granola; yogurt and fruit smoothie; protein bar; whole grain pretzels + nut butter, veggie sticks, and hummus; fruit and string cheese or nut butter; and cottage cheese and fruit, among others. The purpose of this immediate intake of food is to provide the necessary fuel to convert your bodies metabolism from catabolic (breaking itself down) to anabolic (rebuilding and repairing muscles), which will best promote recovery.
As athletes you are demanding A LOT from your bodies on a daily basis and need to fuel them properly to maximize your performance potential.