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5 Ways to Fuel for Success For Morning Practice.

How often do you feel exhausted waking up for morning practice. Still sore from the day before. And once you get to the gym, forget about it! You feel unfocused, tired, and frustrated.

🛑 STOP! It doesn't have to be like that! Learn the 5 Steps for Successful Fueling for those challenging morning practices.

1. Start the night before with a bedtime snack.

Fueling for a morning practice actually starts the night before. Especially if you practice every day, you'll want to load up your energy stores every chance you can get! 30-60 minutes before going to bed (with enough time to get AT LEAST 8 hours of sleep), enjoy a snack with 15-30g of carbs and 7-14g of protein. Some examples of great bedtime snacks include:

  • Greek yogurt + granola or cereal

  • String cheese + crackers

  • Popcorn + nuts (or drizzled with PB!)

  • Applesauce + chia seeds

  • Fruit smoothie

  • Cottage cheese + fruit

2. Give yourself enough time to wake up!

Set your alarm so you are awake for at least 45 minutes before practice starts. This will not only give your body enough time to wake up (so you don't feel like you're sleepwalking into the gym) but also so any food you eat has enough time to digest.

3. Enjoy a quick carb.

Quick carbs will not only give you the fastest boost of energy right before practice, but they are the easiest for you to digest while you begin your workout, so they are less likely to make you feel nauseous or send you running to the bathroom. Look for an easy breakfast that has 15-30g of carbs, and to have it 15-60 minutes before practice starting.

If you're not used to eating before a morning practice, you may have to practice! Start with something easy. Liquid carbs like a sports drink, 100% fruit juice, or chocolate milk may be a great start! Some easy breakfast ideas include:

  • A bagel, English muffin, or toast (plain, or with a little cream cheese, jelly, or nut butter)

  • A bowl of cereal (with milk or dry)

  • Pancakes or Waffles

  • A fruit smoothie

  • Fruit

If you are eating breakfast less than an hour before your practice starts, stick with carbs while limiting too much protein, fat, and fiber. These all take more time and energy to digest, and are more likely to make you feel nauseous or send you to the bathroom. If you have a little more time (1-2 hours), feel free to add a little more. So save the bacon egg & cheese on multigrain for another day.

4. Have a mid-practice snack.

If practice lasts 3+ hours, there's a good chance that your body will be out of fuel before you're even close to being done. This is especially true if you have only had a small breakfast. Take 5 minutes to eat another 15-30g of quick carbs. In addition to those options mentioned above for breakfast, try packing one of the following ideas in your bag:

  • Popcorn

  • Pretzels

  • Granola Bar

  • Crackers

  • Fruit

Additionally, especially in the summer, you may need more than just water to keep you hydrated and energized. Try including an electrolyte drink like Propel, Nuun, Skratch, which will help replace needed minerals like sodium and potassium. If a food-snack isn't an option, this may also be a good opportunity for a carbohydrate drink like Gatorade or a homemade sports drink.

5. Refuel with a recovery meal.

The sooner you can get fuel back into your body, the better! To take full advantage of the strength and conditioning you did at today's practice as well as start refilling your fuel stores for your next workout, it is best to refuel within 1 hour of practice ending. Have a balanced meal using the High Intensity Athlete's Plate, including carbs, protein, fat, color, and a large glass of water!

If you can't have a full meal within an hour, have an easy snack for the car ride home that has about 10g of protein and 30g of carbs. For example:

  • Chocolate milk

  • Trail Mix

  • Granola Bar

  • Protein Muffin

  • Fruit & Nuts

  • Jerkey and Dried Fruit

Fueling for long, early morning summer practices takes some planning and practice. But learning to focus on your nutrition will be well worth it when you have more energy and are able to take advantage of all of your hard work in the gym.

Not sure what steps to take to improve your fueling plan? Apply to work 1-on-1 with me today!

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Kerry Bair, RD, LDN, MPH

The Gymnast RD

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