Apr 14, 2017
Fueling Up
Dr. Pamela Hinton

Low energy intake can be a big concern for athletes who are trying to not only meet their calorie requirements on a daily basis, but prioritize nutrition before and after workouts to maximize training and recovery. For athletes who are looking to gain lean muscle mass, boosting calorie intake is even more important. Most athletes need an additional 500 to 1,000 calories daily during periods of training to increase muscle.

The following are some simple ways to encourage athletes to increase their fuel intake:

  • Challenge athletes to increase their intake for a limited time, such as two weeks, and then evaluate their overall energy and performance.
  • Encourage athletes to track not only their changes in energy and performance, but their mood as they increase energy.
  • Encourage boosting calories by adding more fluids first, as athletes are typically dehydrated and can drink in more calories even if they feel it’s difficult to eat more solid food.
  • Educate athletes on eating more high-calorie, high-nutrient foods that don’t take up a lot of space in the stomach, such as peanut butter, nuts, seeds, olive oil, dried fruit, granola, and energy bars.
  • Review the athlete’s weekly schedule with him or her and help the athlete find times each day to add a small meal or snack.
  • Make sure athletes are maximizing pre-workout and post-workout nutrition.

Pamela Hinton, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology at the University of Missouri.

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