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Eat and Drink like an Athlete


Written by
Lauren Hunsberger

Have a big race or game? Boost your sports performance with these tips from Bellevue Club dietitian Wendy Caamano.

Timing Is Everything
Follow these guidelines to maximize your performance before, during and after the event.

Two to four hours before the event: Eat a meal (athlete’s plate on following page), and drink two to four cups of fluids.

One to two hours before the event: Eat a snack of fruit, peanut butter and honey on toast, and drink two to four cups of fluids.

Last hour before the event: Eat small amounts of low-fiber, starchy foods such as pretzels and water. If you can’t tolerate food, drink sips of a carbohydrate-containing sports drink.

Event time: During breaks eat watery foods such as fresh fruit or toast with jam. Drink five to 12 ounces of a sports drink every 15 to 20 minutes when possible.

Directly after event: Eat a post-event snack such as fresh fruit, a smoothie, hummus and veggies, pretzels. Eating directly after the event is crucial to recovery, even if you can’t get a full meal.

Do You Really Understand Recovery?

Caamano says when addressing recovery nutrition she uses the four Rs, a system recommended by the United States Olympic Committee.

Rehydrate with fluids and electrolyte-containing fluids. This combats dehydration.

Replenish muscle glycogen stores with carbohydrates. Carbohydrates will refuel glycogen stores in the muscles and liver. 

Repair and regenerate muscle tissue with high-quality protein. This will address the breakdown of muscle that occurred during activity.

Reinforce your immune system with nutritious, fresh foods. Vegetables, whole grains and fish are good for dealing with cell damage and inflammation. 


Oatmeal Banana Pancakes

These delicious pancakes are high in protein and made with whole grains. They are a wonderful treat after a hard workout. Choose whatever additions you have on hand and sound good to you. 

  • 1 ripe medium-to-large banana
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon (or to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • Nonstick cooking spray 
  • Optional additions: pecans, blueberries, chocolate chips, etc. 
  • Optional toppings: butter, maple syrup, peanut butter or honey 

Peel the banana, and put it in a small bowl. Using a whisk, mash up the banana. Then add eggs, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Whisk wet ingredients together until well combined. In a blender or food processor, blend together rolled oats, salt, baking powder and baking soda until the oats are a powder-like consistency. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, whisk together until well combined. Heat a griddle or a large skillet over medium. Coat with cooking spray. Pour ¼ cup of batter onto skillet. Add nuts or berries if desired. Let batter cook until bubbles appear on surface and edges appear dry (about two minutes). Flip pancakes with a spatula. Cook until browned on the other side (about one minute). Serve pancakes topped with butter or maple syrup if desired. Source: C. Louie, original recipe


Chicken Fried Rice

The Feed Zone Cookbook by Chef Biju Thomas and Dr. Allen Lim features 150 athlete-friendly recipes that are simple, delicious and easy to prepare. For more recipes, go to 

This recipe is exactly as Allen presented it to his class in the third grade and exactly as he serves it to athletes at training camps, races or impromptu dinners at his place in Boulder, Colorado. At the 2010 Tour de France, this was Lance Armstrong’s favorite post-race dish.

  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
  • 2–3 green onions, diced or thinly sliced
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1 cup cooked boneless chicken thighs (2–3 pieces)
  • 1 cup frozen peas and corn
  • Optional additions: Sriracha sauce, sesame oil
  1. Bring a lightly oiled sauté pan to medium-high heat. Add the garlic and green onions, and sauté for about one minute.
  2. In a small bowl, beat the eggs and soy sauce vigorously and pour into the hot pan. The pan should be hot enough to cause the eggs to fluff. Stir the eggs to cook them quickly.
  3. Add the rice and cooked chicken thighs, and fry the mixture for 5–6 minutes.
  4. Add the peas and corn, and cook until the vegetables heat through and are vibrant in color.
  5. Season to taste with salt, Sriracha sauce, and additional soy sauce or sesame oil. This recipe republished with permission of VeloPress.


Fueling Your Recovery

Hard/high-intensity training (start recovery immediately after): Eat 0.5 gram of carbohydrates for every one pound of body weight; aim for 15 to 20 grams of protein. Drink 24 ounces.

Moderate training (within 30 minutes to an hour): Timing and balance of nutrient intake is important but less stringent.

Easy training: Recovery can occur at next planned meal.



Lean protein : Beef/Game/Lamb, Fish, Eggs, Low-fat dairy, Soy, Legumes/Nuts

Grains: Pasta, Rice, potatoes, cereals, breads, legumes

Vegetables: Raw veggies, cooked veggies, veggie soups

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