Light and Easy Chicken Salad

Light and Easy Chicken Salad

Nutrition Tips for Athletes Ending the Fall Season

Nutrition Tips for Athletes Ending the Fall Season

November is here, which means we are at or nearing the end of the season for high school and college fall sports. This can mean a lot of different things, for many athletes. It might mean entering a true off-season or they may be transitioning into a winter sport or entering club season. Regardless of what the next step might be, here are some things every fall athlete should think about now.

1. What are Your Goals? If you are in the off-season, this is the perfect time to focus on your eating habits to optimize your body composition. If you are transitioning to a winter sport, do you need to make changes to fueling before the season starts? If you are entering club season, how will the timing and amount of eating need to change for you?

2. Goals of Offseason Fueling.  Compensate for the differences in lifestyle and training during the offseason by adjusting nutrient intake. Recognize that changes in body fat and weight may occur and be aware of appropriate changes. Create a balance between training volume and nutrient intake.

3. Create Small Successes.  Find small changes you can make and small successes you can rejoice in. Try to drink double the amount of water you currently drink. How about simply adding vegetables with lunch every day? Add protein to breakfast. Small successes add up to major diet overhauls and big performance gains long-term!

4. Tips to Take with You.   Focus on eating more “real” foods versus convenience foods (ie. bars/prepackaged shakes). “Real” foods will help every athlete improve. Instead of 4 granola bars daily, can you swap 1 out for trail mix? Instead of chips after school, can you switch to fruit and yogurt or toast and peanut butter? The more real you eat, the more real results you see. Keep in mind that sleep is an important part of reaching your body composition goals. Make ample time for rest.

5. Weight Gain.  Are you looking to add some lean muscle mass this winter? A healthy goal is to gain ~1/2 pound per week. Gaining too quickly can result in unwanted body fat. Use these tips to help incorporate more quality into your diet to promote weight gain: Eat every 2-3 hours during wake hours. Add caloric dense foods such as nuts and nut butters, cheese, granola, avocado. These will increase calories without volume! Include nutrient dense caloric beverages such as milk, smoothies, 100% with all meals.

6. Weight Loss.  Some excess weight weighing you down? Off season is a good time to focus on small, healthy weight loss without the use of extreme diets. Losing 1 or less pound per week is a healthy goal that will minimize loss of muscle mass. Include more fruits and vegetable in your day include lean protein at every meal AND snack, such as nuts, greek yogurt, eggs, cottage cheese, turkey. Avoid sugary drinks, such as soft drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened juice. Continue to eat often about every 3-4 hours, this will keep a steady supply of energy and prevent you from overeating. Increase fiber. Look to whole grain, nuts, beans, fruits and vegetable. Fuel more earlier in the day! Taper your meal size as the day goes on to enable you to burn more calories during the more active part of your day.

7.  Weight Maintenance. Match your carbohydrate intake level to your activity level.


For more specific and individual recommendations, now is a great time for athletes to check in before the winter with Suzanne Iovanni at Building Better Nutrition.

Fueling for Football

Fueling for Football

Training for football players includes running, learning plays, lifting, and NUTRITION! Quarterback, linebacker, tight end, tackle, whatever your position, you need to fuel adequately for a competitive edge and achieve your optimal performance. SPEED, STRENGTH, STAMINA, and RECOVERY are all impacted directly from your nutrition. It is important for each player to take responsibility for optimal body fueling. Nutrient requirements are based on individual athlete size and position, but below are nutrition tips for all football players.

Consume 3 meals and 2-3 snacks daily.  Eat every ~3 hours if possible.

Never skip breakfast! Mornings are not the time to skimp on nourishment!  Fuel your body early in the day and often to arrive at practice well fueled and ready for a tough training session.

Divide your plate into 1/3:  One part filled with protein, second with fruits/vegetables, and the last with complex grains.

Have a hydration plan! You need to show up to trainings well hydrated and take breaks to rehydrate.  Early and often is key!  Gulp, don’t sip.  Swallow, don’t spit.  Drink, don’t pour over your head.  General guideline; drink 20 ounces of water one hour prior to training with a small amount of carbohydrate (handful of pretzels or granola bar).  Football players are at high risk for dehydration due to excessive sweating underneath all those pads and layers!  Determine how much fluid you have lost during your training session.  Each pound of body weight lost requires 24 ounces of fluid and sodium (or salt) for repletion.  This can be obtained via a sport drink or water with food containing sodium.

Struggling to maintain weight and gain muscle?  You need to have a calorie surpluss in order to gain weight and muscle mass.  Choose high quality, caloric dense foods with meals and snacks.  Lots of energy packed into small bites!  Start with your plate model as mentioned above and top it off with trail mix, guacamole, cheese, nuts and nut butters, granolas, hummus.  Drink nutritious caloric beverages, such as 2% milk, chocolate milk, yogurt smoothies, homemade smoothies.  

Is weight control a concern while maintaining muscle mass?  Eat quality foods at each meal or snack.  Increase your consumption of lean proteins with high fiber sides.  Fill half your plate with protein and the other half with complex carbohydrates from vegetables, fruits, and high fiber grains.  Timing, composition, and nutrient density are the keys to gaining muscle mass.

For advice on customizing an eating plan to meet your nutrition goals, consult a RD who specializes in sports nutrition.  


What is the Female Athlete Triad?

What is the Female Athlete Triad?

Athlete Scenario: I am a high school cross country runner, I run 25-35 miles per week and play recreational soccer 3 times per week. I haven’t had my period in 4 months, my times were getting faster, but it now seems to be getting harder to maintain the same pace. My shins ache as well and I’m often needing to ice my shins after meets and games.

This athlete is showing the 3 interrelated RED Flags to Female Athlete Triad.  

1.  Low Energy Availability 

2.  Low Bone Density

3.  Menstrual Disturbances

Energy availability (EA) is the energy remaining for regular body processes AFTER accounting for energy used during exercise.  Low EA is more prevelent in aesthetic and weight sesitive sports; gymnastics, dance, running, swimming.

Typically in high school and collegiate settings, athletes that are struggling are first identified by their athletic trainer, teammates, or coach who are most aware of their training levels, performance, and eating habits.  Typically, signs of the athlete showing triad-related concerns are progressive weight loss, disordered eating behaviors, chronic fatigue, impaired growth, hormonal disruptions, and irregular moods.  Other concerns are complaints about declining performance or overexercising behaviors, as well as overuse injuries including increased stress fractures.  

So, what do you do if you suspect Female Athlete Triad?  The athlete needs to be assessed and managed by a healthcare professional knowledgeable in the Female Athlete Triad and a Sports Dietitian can help identify appropriate foods and/or supplements to imporve EA.  Laboratory workup will be important as unfavorable blood cholesterol is typically increased, which increases cardiovascular risk and low B vitamins as well as Vitamin D and calcium are common.


1.  Improve EA with energy dense snacks and/or beverages.

2.  Decrease energy expenditure with taking at least 1 extra day off per week.

3.  Ensure calcium and vitamin D needs are met.

4.  Consult with a Sports Dietitian to improve EA and address any disordered eating       behaviors.  


Fall is in the air

Fall is in the air

With Fall Comes Teen Sports!

Soccer, Football, basketball, Cross Country, Field Hockey… teen athletes needs power for quick strong moves and endurance for games and practices.  Most teens under fuel during the day when their bodies are at their metabolic peak, which can result in decreased training effort in practice and over fueling at night, this may lead to excess weight gain, poor food choices and continuing the cycle of waking un-hungry in the am.  

Start the day right and ensure your teen is eating breakfast.  Something is better than nothing!  But, best choices will include protein and fiber. 

 – Greek yogurt, granola, and berries

 – Wheat bagel, peanut butter, apple

– eggs, wheat toast, banana

and don’t forget FLUIDS!!!  Include a drink with breakfast and bring a bottle of water to school (make sure they drink the water).  

Starting the day on the right path, and eating snacks and balanced lunch will enable their bodies to train hard and recover well!  

Contact a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) for personalized nutrition plans.

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