Posted by: Dr. Tyrone A. Holmes | July 20, 2009

10 Big Nutrition Mistakes #4: Not Knowing What Foods and Drinks You Tolerate Best

       In my last three posts, I introduced three of the more common mistakes made by athletes and serious exercisers.  These mistakes include failure to eat prior to exercise, failure to eat immediately after exercise, and poor hydration practices.  The fourth mistake, failure to understand what foods and drinks you tolerate best, overlaps these errors.  Simply stated, if you are an endurance athlete, you must develop a nutrition and hydration plan that provides you with enough energy to successfully complete a workout or competitive event.  To do this effectively, you have to know what foods and drinks work best for you.  I have two simple suggestions:

1.  Hydration – For workouts, events or competitions in excess of one hour, you should use an energy drink to replace carbohydrates and electrolytes.  There are many to choose from and the majority of them work effectively.  Just make sure they contain about 6 to 8 percent carbohydrate and some sodium for electrolyte replacement.  I suggest you select three different drinks and try each one in a similar type of workout or event (e.g., same intensity and duration).  First, determine if any of the drinks cause any gastrointestinal (GI) distress (e.g., bloating).  If one of them does, eliminate it from consideration (note: drinks with more that 8% carbohydrate may be more likely to cause stomach distress).  Second, consider taste.  You are more likely to use a drink if it tastes really good.

2.  Nutrition – Determine which foods work best for you.  Once again, the best way to do this is through experimentation.  There are at least two criteria you want to consider: quality and convenience.  Quality refers to how effective the food is at providing your nutritional needs without causing any GI distress.  Convenience refers to how easy it is to obtain the food before, during and after an event or workout.  For example, steamed vegetables may provide you with high quality nutrition, but it is not very convenient during a competitive event!  Try a variety of foods (e.g., fruits, energy bars, gels) to see what works best for you.    

NEXT POST – July 27, 2009

10 Big Nutrition Mistakes #5:  Being Unclear About Your Nutritional Requirements

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