Eat Like an Athlete Part I

I feel like it could be really easy to feel hungry all day long while training for an HIM. I have been doing a lot of reading and studying about how to fuel while I train and I thought it would be good to do a post about things I have been doing that have been helping me stay fueled and keeping me lean for peak performance!


First let’s talk about the glycemic index. It is basically  a measure of how much a carbohydrate will raise blood sugar which stimulates insulin which causes sugar to leave the blood stream and be stored in the muscles as glycogen or as fat. You do not want to have high insulin levels pre-exercise, because then your body can’t metabolize or break down fats. Basically it makes you feel blah. (FYI, protein powders spike insulin.) But immediately after exercise, you do want the insulin stimulated. This helps to rebuild muscles (protein) and increase the ability of the body to store glycogen. (Now is the time for the protein powder or recovery drink with protein in it.)

Next let’s talk about food groups. Which most already know a lot about. Eat lots of vegetables and fruits, get all the calcium and protein you need, and get 2-3 servings of *good* fats each day. Pretty much the basics. If you can get 6 servings of veggies and fruit. As well as 5 servings of lean proteins and whole grains,  3 servings low-fat dairy and 2 servings of essential fats.

Above all else eat real food, minimally processed foods with carbs every 3-4 hours. I happen to run first thing in the morning. So I eat a piece of toast and some nut butter at least 30 minutes before I start. If working out longer than 90 minutes, about 25-30 minutes in, take some type of fuel. And then always eat within 30 minutes of finishing your workout.

So here is the schedule that has worked so far for me:
Time wake up: 4:50 am
Pre-Workout Fuel: Whole Wheat piece of toast and nut butter.
Workout #1: 5:30 am


Breakfast: 8:00 am

Breakfast should be high in fiber, carbohydrates and should be within 2 hours of waking. Suggestions are one whole grain serving (40 g carbohydrates) and 1 milk. Fruit (not juice) and a source of fat are optional.  If you are not hungry for breakfast, eat it anyways!!!



Snack: 10:30 am (3 hours after breakfast)

Healthy Snack Ideas:

Apple or banana slices and peanut butter.

Baked potato with cheese melted on top.

Carrot and celery sticks with dressing.

Cottage cheese with fresh or canned fruit.

Dry cereal with dried fruit.

Energy bars, breakfast bars or granola bars.

Granola with Fage and blueberries.




Lunch time: 12:30 pm (+1-2 hours after light snack or +3-4 hour after breakfast)

1.5-2 servings (3-4 oz) protein servings, 1-2 grains, 1 milk, 1-2 vegetable

Lunch should be emphasis on higher protein and vegetables. Also include a grain and healthy fat.  Lower carbs. The reasons behind this are that protein increases alertness during the afternoon. This helps to reduce that blah feeling you get about 3 in the afternoon. The protein also helps to control your appetite later in the day. Also, since you need three servings of veggies this is a good time to get one of them. Unfortunately, the amount of vegetables on a sandwich isn’t enough to count usually so a big salad is better


Snack: 3:00 pm (+3 hours after lunch or 1.5-2 hours before exercise)

This snack should be low glycemic carbs, about 20-30 g of healthy carbs. This would be like fruit, trail mix, 1/2 a sandwich, etc.



Workout #2: 5:30pm 


Dinner: 7:30 pm (2+ hours before bed)

The emphasis at dinner time is carbs and 2 servings of veggies. This meal should be small to medium in size. The carbs will help you sleep. It seems like a lot to me but 1/2 to 3/4 of the meal should be vegetables. Milk or fruit could be added to round out the days nutrition. Although you are eating carbs at this meal, you don’t want to go to bed with high blood sugar, so eat at least 2 hours before bed.

Oh and salsa counts as a vegetable so you can smother enchiladas or burritos! Usually athletes can manage the amount of sodium this brings on.

A couple of other side notes (if you have actually made it thus far) are…

*coffee is okay in moderation
*soda is not ok in any amount, not diet, not regular
*water is more important than anyone gives it credit for but you should not chug it, drink 6-8 oz at a time so as not to dilute your blood
*juice is high in sugar so it is not something you should grab first


This is the overview on what I have being doing to fuel during my HIM TRAINING. The next post will be about the post workout fuel and what I use during long workouts.

Question: Do you eat anything before a workout, or do you start on an empty stomach?


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