What & When to Eat for Optimal Athletic Performance

What & When to Eat for Optimal Athletic Performance
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Eating for performance is a lot different than eating strict Paleo. In the case of long, intense, or extreme events and workouts it is important to remember you need more fuel than an average day. In fact, for those of you who follow the Paleo diet, you might be surprised to hear us suggest a non-strict paleo approach to before, during, and after your athletic event. This is based on the Paleo Diet for Athletes and follows the thought process that cavemen didn’t exactly go to the CrossFit Games, or do triathalons, so we need to eat a little different to give our bodies the fuel to meet the high demands of these events.

Eating Before Games, Events, and Exercise

If you are trying to fuel for an event, game, or exercise then is is important to eat low to moderate glycemic index foods. Now this may sound complicated, but don’t worry we will keep it simple. When should you eat? 2 Hours prior to event  What should You Eat? Low to Moderate glycemic index food. You don’t have to avoid fats or protein in this meal. However make sure all foods are low in fiber. Counting Calories? For optimal performance you should be weighing and measuring food, however if your not worried about a gold medal right now just make sure you take in 200 to 300 calories every hour until the exercise begins up until the 2 hour mark.


Foods Ideas for Athletes: What you eat is 80% of Athletic Success

Eggs, Bacon, fruit yogurt, noodles, potato’s, English muffin with almond butter, rice crisp with almond butter, rice crisp with avocado slices, apple with almond butterm almonds, pumpkin seeds.

Eating During Exercise

Eating during exercise can seem strange, but during long grueling workouts and races you will need fuel. Consider high glycemic index carbohydrates, these should be mostly fluids. Find a sports drink that isn’t high in sugar or overly amped with strange ingredients. For your everyday practice and exercise you won’t need a sports drink, stick to water. When in doubt, drink water!

Fuel for Recovery – After Exercise

This is important! The first 30 minutes after an INTENSE WORKOUT or race you need to drink a recovery drink that includes carbohydrates and protein. Consider buying egg white protein powder, or recovery drinks. The 30 minutes after intense workout an important window, if you don’t won’t to feel like you were hit by a MAC truck then make sure you abide by this rule.

The Cheat Zone – What Athletes Can Eat for Long Recovery

Here comes the fun stuff. If you’re a foody, and you have been sticking to your nutritional guns, now is the time you can cheat a bit. As long as your exercise was intense and demanding, you can eat pasta, bread, bagels, rice, corn, and other food with glucose. However, if you are following Paleo and truly believe gluten is bad for your body then we highly suggest sweet potatoes and yams.   After you have followed these different parts of eating before, during, and after your event, you should return to eating for optimal athletic performance. We recommend the Paleo diet, but ultimately you have to believe in the nutrition program and be choose what works for you.

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A little more about Natasha Hawkins...

Experience: Division 1 Fastpitch Softball player at San Jose State. Degree: B.S in Marketing and Advertising Certifications: Certified Level 1 CrossFit Trainer Interests: She loves the way the brain works and how personalities and attitude can create a warrior of an athlete that will always persevere and make success for themselves. While she is not a certified nutritionist she studies and practices the Paleo diet and Zone eating. Quirk: I am an avid archer and hunter. Yup, it's true. I have shot archery since I could walk, and hunted with my Dad since I was born. I also have a sister (Cheridan Hawkins) who is a stud pitcher for the Oregon Ducks Softball Team and is on the Junior Olympic Team. My youngest sister Charli Hawkins trains with me at CrossFit and is also a catcher on the 12U California Grapettes. Follow Natasha on Twitter: @NatashaBHawkins