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Treating folks, like you, who move for a living and love to move


Author: Richard Symister

Rule #7: Eat for Energy Practical Goal Setting for Athletic Performance


Not all diets are created equal. What works for one person, even he or she shares the same build, body type, and sport, simply may not work for you. As a result, the world of nutrition is not a one-size-fits-all place. It is full of contradictions. To make matters worse, fad diets and supplements often present mixed results and confusion among those of us seeking ultimate fitness 

The best nutritional advice that MovEvolution Physical Therapy gives its multi-sport clients is to create a solid foundation and then learn to customize your food palate specifically for your energetic needs. 

Energetic Foundation

Become a mad scientist. Experiment with different foods and food combinations to see which give you the best results.

There is an optimal blueprint. You will find it, but you give yourself the best chance when you do so gradually. Try one thing at a time when adjusting your diet. Shifting too many things doesn’t really let you know which element is just right and which is filler. Fast, complex changes may even upset your GI system and set your performance back.

Know your energy needs

A few general rules to make sure you’re eating for your energy needs and not just eating: 

Fill the tank with enough gas. If you are driving from New York to Boston, you’ll need enough gas to make the trip. The same can be said about a race, swim, fight, or CrossFit MetCom day. Know which foods are your best fuel.

24 hour rule: Long running day tomorrow at 3 PM? Start fueling for it now with water, carbs, and protein. Make sure you start to fill your tank a day before your event or activity instead of a meal right before training. 

Pack a lunch or energy snack. High Intensity Training (HIT), endurance, and MetCom work burn a lot of energy. Replacing not just water but carbs after 35-45 minutes helps with concentration and preventing fatigue. 

Energy needs before and after activity

Yes, eating right before training or a competition does make sense. Just make sure whatever you choose is easily digestible. If you’re looking for faster energy, look for food with a high glycemic index ranking. Also make sure you’ve eaten it before. If you’re experimenting and introducing new foods, take small portions and see how you GI system works with it.

Plan your post meal. After working out, you have an optimal, but short, window for nutrient replenishing. Knowing what to eat (and drink) directly after a workout are as essential for optimal recovery as your pre-workout meals are for optimal fuel. Maybe it’s as simple as peanut butter and jelly? What’s important is hitting the mark with proportions. You want the right ratio of carbs to protein to fat.

Having a sense of how much you sweat is also essential. You should drink enough water prior to moving, during, and after, replacing fluids lost. Even minor dehydration, greater than 2-3%, can have a negative effect on athletic performance. Thirst is not always present as a good indicator of water depletion. You might take more deliberate steps to observe your sweat output: try pre-workout and post-workout weigh-ins.

Enjoy what you eat

Eat for energy but also flavor and satiety. Forcing down a gut-bloating, protein powder smoothie, or a flavorless meal that’s “good for you,” are not advisable options. You can eat for ideal athletic performance while eating for pleasure. In future, we’ll post more about celebrating your victories to underscore how “rewarding” yourself in good-feeling moderation increases motivation and drive to performance.

heal. move. evolve.