As many athletes around the world head back into lockdown and virtual practices, it's important to fuel our bodies properly, so we are bringing back this post from Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Lauren Papnos.
We are currently facing unprecedented times and unfortunately for most of you, the thing you love most, cheerleading, has been impacted. I want you to know that you are not alone and that we are here to support you with the tools to come out on the other side of this, a stronger cheerleader. Just remember, all change is temporary. However, if you would like to understand how to adjust your nutrition to match your current energy expenditure, we have the answers for you!
#1: Start Eating Your Protein in Frequent, Small Doses
It is a common misconception to believe that if you aren’t practicing or working out as heavily, that you do not need as much protein. However, in order for our bodies to spare muscle protein (muscle mass), we actually need a greater amount of protein through our diet. Additionally, we need this protein in small doses, frequently throughout the day. Aim to eat 20-30 grams of protein first thing in the morning, and then every 3-4 hours thereafter. For most, this will look like 20-30 grams of protein every 4 hours. What does 20-30 grams of protein look like? 3 oz meat, 4 eggs, 1 cup plain greek yogurt, ½ cup black beans, or ¾ cup tofu.
2: Focus on Meals over Snacks
You are likely spending more time at home right now, which means, more snacking. I challenge you to try to instead, focus on how you can fit in more high-quality meals. Although snacks can be great for breaking up the time between meals, they are typically lacking in fiber, protein, and vitamins and minerals- all things your body needs during this time. If you normally eat 3 large meals and 2 snacks, try to adjust this to 4 meals that all contain fiber and protein. This is also a good time to try out new recipes so that when you do return to your normal routine, you have some new staple foods you love!
#3: Prioritize High Fiber Carbohydrate Sources
High fiber carbohydrate sources are primarily plant foods that contain more than 5 grams of fiber per serving. These sources can be vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, or legumes. An easy way to know if a food falls into this category is to ask yourself: Is the food a plant product? Does the food have an outer shell/skin? If you can answer one of these two questions, the answer is likely, yes, the food is a high fiber carbohydrate source! FIber is important because it regulates your digestion, helps to build a healthy gut flora that maintains your immune system, and slows down the release of the energy to provide a long-lasting energy source.
4: Adjust Your Hydration to ½ oz. per lb. body weight
A few months back we discussed how to calculate your hydration needs, with cheerleading and workouts. Because you are likely not as active and not sweating as much, your hydration needs are not as high. A good rule of thumb is ½ oz per lb. body weight, daily. You likely do not need electrolyte supplementation, however, I do recommend still using a trace mineral salt product, like Himalayan sea salt or “The Real Salt” on foods to provide you a source of trace minerals in your diet.
- XOX Lauren
If you have nutrition questions you want answered, follow the link HERE to submit your question!