SMASH: Nutrition

Sports Nutrition
Handout: Sports Nutrition

How to choose high-performance foods when traveling
How to choose high-performance foods when traveling
By Suzanne Nelson Steen, D.Sc., R.D.
Gatorade Sports Science Institute

Eating on the road can pose a challenge for athletes striving to maintain a training diet that has adequate energy, carbohydrate, protein and fluids.

Here are some guidelines for choosing high-performance foods and fluids while traveling.


It's easy to become dehydrated while traveling, especially on airplanes. To prevent dehydration:

Drink at regular intervals throughout the day.

Carry sports drinks and water with you.

Limit caffeinated and alcoholic beverages as they are diuretics and promote fluid loss.

Pack it!

Take nutrient-dense foods along for the trip. This is especially important when traveling to a foreign country, where familiar foods may be harder to find and food-borne illness may be a concern. Pack:

Sports bars, granola bars

Dried or regular fruit, nuts and trail mix

Pretzels or baked chips

Whole-grain crackers, bagels, breads, rolls, muffins

Peanut butter and jelly

Cans/packets of tuna or chicken

Nutrition shakes

Visit the grocery store

Meals can be made in a hotel room if there is a microwave and refrigerator available. Some easy-to-prepare meals are:


Bowl of cereal, milk and a banana

Bagel with peanut butter, orange juice

Cottage cheese, canned peaches, orange juice


Turkey sandwich, apple, oatmeal raisin cookies, and milk

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich, baby carrots, granola bar, cranberry juice


Roast beef and cheese sandwich, chocolate chip cookie, juice

Cheese/chicken quesadilla with salsa, lemonade

Salad with romaine, tomatoes, carrots, tuna, cheese, apple and milk

What about low-carb choices?

Low-carb foods are everywhere, from restaurants to grocery stores to health clubs. However, these foods are usually not the best choice for athletes. Significantly cutting carbohydrates hurts performance by reducing speed, strength and stamina.

Quick tips:

Athletes should fuel their bodies two to three hours before practices, events and games with a high-carbohydrate meal or snack.

Team leaders can organize pre-game meals for the whole team, including high-energy foods like breads, bagel, pasta or rice.

Athletes should fill 2/3 of their plates with high-carbohydrate options for quick energy?and the rest with high-protein, low-fat items such as grilled chicken, turkey or lean roast beef.

When eating at a restaurant, athletes should look carefully at the menu to see how food is prepared. Words such as fried, crispy, creamed and au gratin all suggest high-fat content. Better choices are steamed, broiled, stir fried and poached.

Food choices:


Look for:

Pancakes, french toast, waffles

English muffins, bagels, toast with jam, low-fat cream cheese or peanut butter

Scrambled eggs, soft-boiled egg, breakfast burrito

Cereal (hot or cold)

Lean meats such as Canadian bacon, ham, turkey or veggie sausage

Low-fat yogurt, cream cheese and cottage cheese

Low-fat muffins, fruit/oatmeal bar

Skim or 1% milk

Fresh fruit, fruit juice, smoothie


High-fat meats such as sausage, bacon, corned beef hash

Hash browns


Donuts, biscuits or croissants

Lunch and Dinner


Look for:

Sandwiches with turkey, ham, roast beef, chicken

Wraps with chicken, shrimp, fish, veggies, tofu

Salads/salad bars -- include veggies and fruit for carbohydrate. For protein include cheese, nuts, seeds, eggs, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, cottage cheese or plain tuna

Light/fat-free mayo, light/fat-free salad dressings


Sandwiches made with high-fat meats such as salami or bologna or with tuna salad

Regular "mayo," "special sauces," regular salad dressings

Mayonnaise-based potato or pasta salads, macaroni and cheese

Fried chicken wings, nuggets


Look for:

Chicken chow mein, chop suey, rice noodles

Steamed vegetables and rice

Stir-fry vegetables with shrimp/chicken/pork/beef, tofu

Hot-and-sour soup, Wonton soup

Fresh spring rolls


Deep-fried items such as egg rolls, wontons, sweet-and-sour pork or shrimp

High-fat meats such as spare ribs

Fried chow mein noodles, fried rice

High-fat sauces such as peanut, coconut, lobster sauce


Look for:

Vegetarian antipasto

Low-fat sauces such as marinara, marsala, tomato or red clam sauce

Grilled vegetables

Pizza with veggies, chicken, Canadian bacon

Salads (chicken, shrimp, mixed greens, spinach)

Spinach, mushroom tortellini

Minestrone soup and bread sticks


High-fat meats such as pepperoni or sausage

High-fat sauces such as alfredo, gorgonzola and pesto

Garlic or cheese bread


Look for:

Chicken, shrimp, beef, pork, bean burritos, soft tacos, fajitas, enchiladas, tostados or quesadillas

Salsa, baked tortilla chips

Gazpacho soup, tortilla soup

Spanish rice

Vegetarian refried beans, black/red beans


Taquitos (deep fried)


Cream-based sauces (pollo a la crema)

Guacamole, sour cream

Refried beans with lard


Suzanne Nelson Steen, D.Sc., R.D., is the Director of Husky Sports Nutrition Services for the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics at the University of Washington in Seattle.

For more information on the latest in proper sports nutrition and hydration, visit

Nutrition Handout
Handout: Nutrition

Nutrition for Competition
Hydration & Controlled Fueling of the Body for Competition

The thrill of volleyball lies in speed & endurance. SERVE, PASS, SET, ATTACK, CELEBRATE – within seconds a point is made. The combination of recognition, mental endurance, agility, strength, accuracy and explosive power is required during practice, matches and especially multi-match tournaments. Fueling the body before, during and after competition is essential to maximize the performance of each athlete. Take it to heart, it could be the difference of athletic success or failure.

SERVE Powerful Foods Pre-Game
The evening before or better yet, 2 days before a competition is critical for loading the body with adequate carbohydrates and hydration. The choice: lots of carbohydrates like bread, pasta and rice with moderate protein like lean chicken, fish and moderate fat like frozen yogurt or oatmeal cookies. And dont forget an evening snack. Cold cereal with low-fat milk, popcorn(no butter) or even a turkey, tuna, or chicken sandwich is great.

After-school matches require planning, as alot of athletes tend to eat meals at school that would not be advantageous to success during games or practices of the day. Athletes should take pre-game foods along to school so they have high-carbohydrate foods as soon as the bell rings. Try these portable high-carbohydrate snacks:

High-Carbohydrate Snacks

Graham crackers
Low-fat granola bars
Fresh fruit snacks
Dried fruit
Trail or Chex Mix
Fruit cups
Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
Gatorade or other sports drinks
Always lots of fresh, cool water

SET an Accurate Hydration Plan
Dehydration can foil the efforts of the most skilled athletes. Gatorade helps replace carbohydrates needed for volleyball’s bursts of energy. It is easy to prevent using the guidelines from the National Athletic Trainers’Association: as follows

Start matches well hydrated – Drink at least 17 to 20 oz of fluid 2 to 3 hours before, and another 7 to 10 oz fluid 10 to 20 minutes before a match.
Provide fluids between each game – Drink 28 to 40 oz of fluid per hour or 7 to 10 oz every 10 to 15 minutes.
Be sure to encourage drinking after matches, especially sports drinks to replace carbohydrate stored in muscle and electrolyte lost in sweat.
SPIKE Energy Reserves During Tournaments
Keeping fueled during day-long matches is often a challenge. With anywhere from minutes to hours between matches, athletes can forget or be too nervous to eat or drink. Be prepared - pack a cooler full of high-energy snacks like those listed. Good choices during longer breaks when you can go out for food include submarine sandwiches, vegetable or cheese pizza, milk shakes, nutrition shakes and smoothies. Keep the fluids flowing so athletes start each match with a well-hydrated body full of energy.

Thanks to Gatorade, National Trainers Association, and Ann Semenske on their contributions for the article...

Water vs. Sports Drinks
Water vs Sports Drinks..
What should you choose for improved performance?

Proper hydration is extremely important during exercise. Adequate fluid intake for athletes, even the recreational kind, is essential to comfort, performance and safety. The longer and more intensely you exercise, the more important it is to drink plenty of fluids. Please continue reading below...   

Inadequate water consumption can be physically harmful. Consider that a loss of as little as 2% of one's body weight due to sweating, can lead to a drop in blood volume. When this occurs, the heart works harder in order to move blood through the bloodstream. Prehydration and rehydration are vital to maintaining cardiovascular health, proper body temperature and muscle function.

Dehydration is a major cause of fatigue, poor performance, decreased coordination and muscle cramping. To avoid the above, the American College Of Sports Medicine suggests the following:

Eat a high carbohydrate, low fat diet & drink plenty of fluids between exercise sessions. (Plain water or fluids WITHOUT sugar, caffeine or alcohol are the best).
Drink 17 oz (2+ Cups) of fluid 2 hours before exercise.
Drink every 15 minutes during exercise.
Keep drinks cooler than air temperature & close at hand (a water bottle is ideal).
If you exercise for more than 60 minutes, you may benefit from a sports drink containing carbohydrate (not greater than 8% concentration, though).
Take 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour to delay fatigue & fuel muscle contractions.
Inclusion of sodium (0.5-0.7 g.1(-1) of water)ingested during exercise lasting longer than an hour may enhance palatability, and therefore encourage athletes to drink enough.

Although athletes are more prone to suffer symptoms of dehydration, all exercisers can increase performance & delay fatigue or muscle pain by staying properly hydrated. Consider 'prehydrating' by drinking 12-16 ounces of water 1-2 hours before exercising.

How much is enough?
To get an idea of just how much you need to drink, you should weigh yourself before and after your workouts. Any weight decrease is probably due to water loss (sorry, but you didn't just lose 2 pounds of body fat). If you have lost 2 or more pounds during your workout you should drink 24 ounces of water for each pound lost.

Another way to determine your state of hydration is by monitoring your morning and pre-exercise heart rate. Over the course of a few weeks, you will see a pattern. This information can be extremely helpful in determining your state of recovery. Days when your heart rate is elevated above your norm may indicate a lack of complete recovery, possibly due to dehydration.

What about Sports Drinks?
Sports drinks can be helpful to athletes who are exercising at a high intensity for 90 minutes or more. Fluids supplying 60 to 100 calories per 8 ounces helps to supply the needed calories required for continuous performance. It's really not necessary to replace losses of sodium, potassium and other electrolytes during exercise since you're unlikely to deplete your body's stores of these minerals during normal training. If, however, you find yourself exercising in extreme conditions over 5 or 6 hours (an Ironman or ultramarathon, for example) you will need to add a complex sports drink with electrolytes. Athletes who don't consume electrolytes under these conditions risk overhydration (or hyponatremia). The most likely occurence is found in the longer events (five hours or more) when athletes drink excessive amounts of electrolyte free water, and develop hyponatremia (low blood sodium concentration).

What about Caffeine?
While caffeine may have some ergogenic properties, remember that it acts as a diuretic causing your body to excrete fluid instead of retaining it, so it is not the wisest choice when trying to hydrate. You're better off with plain water or fruit juice until your weight reaches that of your pre-exercise state. For additional information on hydration and exercise, check out the following links.

~ Elizabeth Quinn