Go High or Go Low?
Myth vs. Fact
Myth: “I don’t have time to eat a snack before practice…no big deal!”
Fact: The truth is that a pre-workout snack is essential to give you a burst of energy to start practice. The goal is to have complex carbohydrate and some protein plus 8-16 oz fluid. So bring something you can through in your gym bag like an energy bar & apple, peanut butter crackers & banana or a baggie of homemade trail mix with granola/nuts/dried fruit. Avoid foods that are fried, high in fat or loaded with sugar.
Sports Nutrition 101
Go High or Go Low?
High carb, low carb, some carb, no carb…are there better carbohydrates for pre- and post-workout? The answer is YES! Carbohydrates are the body’s #1 source of energy, but certain carbohydrates are better than others to maximize energy and recovery.
Looking at the Glycemic Index (GI) of a carbohydrate is one of the keys in determining which type of carbohydrate is optimal for a specific activity. The GI is a scale that ranks carbohydrate-rich foods in order of how they affect the body’s blood sugar (glucose) levels compared to pure glucose or white bread. The glycemic index of glucose is 100 and thus the highest ranking on the GI scale. It is important to note that not all carbohydrates have the same effect on the body’s blood sugar levels; some spike the level and some gradually increase it. Thus, we categorize carbohydrates as high, medium and low glycemic.
High Glycemic: GI of 70-100
- Grains: White bread, whole wheat bread, bagel, gluten-free bread, Bran Flakes®, Coco Pops®, PuffedWheat®, Cornflakes®, Cheerios®, Shredded Wheat®, Grapenuts®, wild rice, jasmine rice, white mashed potatoes (skinless), instant mashed potato, baked potato, graham crackers, rice cakes, pretzels, popcorn
- Fruits: Watermelon
- Legumes: Broad beans
- Starchy V egetables: Other potatoes, French fries
- Other: Candy, table sugar, doughnut
Medium Glycemic: GI of 56-69
- Grains: Hamburger bun, rye bread, croissant, wholemeal, Basmati rice, wild rice, couscous, cornmeal,tapioca, Oatbran® Cereal, Raisin Bran®, untoasted muesli, quick oats, cream of wheat, bran muffin, carrot muffin
- Fruits: Apricots, mango, raisins, cantaloupe, pineapple
- Starchy Vegetables: New potato, corn, pumpkin, pea soup, black bean soup
- Other: Potato ChipsLow Glycemic: GI of 55 or less
- Grains: All Bran® cereal, barley, pasta, oatmeal, bulgar, semolina, pumpernickel bread, brown rice, longgrain white rice
- Fruits: Cherries, grapefruit, peach, apple, pear, plums, orange, grapes, kiwi, banana, strawberries, prunes,
- Legumes: All beans, peas, lentils
- Starchy V egetables: Sweet potato
- Non-starchy Vegetables: All, tomato soup, minestrone soup
- Other: Skim milk, plain yogurt, soy milk, low-fat ice cream, chickpeas
A variety of factors affect the GI of a carbohydrate including the type of starch, cooking & processing, fat/protein content and the acid level of the food. For example, instant oatmeal is higher glycemic than steel cut rolled oats (a very low glycemic food) because it is pre-cooked and thus more processed. On the reverse side, you can add fat and/or protein to a high glycemic food and lower its overall glycemic index. For example, adding 2 Tbs. peanut butter to a bagel (a high glycemic food). Fat and protein both slow down digestion so when added to a high glycemic food they cause a less dramatic spike in blood sugar.
So now that you know what the glycemic index is and which foods fall into which categories, how do you apply that to exercise/training and playing golf? You have to look at the goal…
Pre-exercise there is one main goal with food: supply the body with energy to fuel the activity. As an athlete, you don’t just want energy for 20 minutes, you want sustained energy throughout your whole workout…thus, you want low-medium glycemic carbohydrates with a lean protein and a small amount of healthy fat. This will digest slower and as a result give you energy for a longer period of time.
Post-exercise there is also one main goal with food: RECOVER! Within two hours after a workout your body is primed to take up carbohydrate and protein at a faster rate. So, post-workout you should aim to eat high glycemic carbohydrates as they digest quickly, spike the blood sugar, cause a spike in insulin levels and thus help your body take up carbohydrate faster to trigger the recovery process. Then don’t forget to add a protein to start the muscle repair process.
Healthy Bites…Recipe of the Month
Looking for a carbohydrate and protein rich sweet that can be a part of breakfast, lunch, post-workout snack or dessert???
The goal for an athlete should be to eat nutrient-rich foods 80% of the time and splurge on “fun foods” the other 20%. This ratio allows athletes to fuel for performance while still enjoying the sweet, sugary foods everyone loves. However, if there was a tasty, sweet, nutritious snack…then we would be set…and there is!
Let’s breakdown the “Anytime Yogurt Berry Parfait”” ingredients… Whether you’re adding the parfait to breakfast or lunch or eating it as a post-workout snack, this carbohydrate, protein rich snack will fuel your muscles to be bigger, stronger, faster! One serving of Greek yogurt contains 130 mg of calcium for strong bones and is high in protein which is key for building lean muscle. Low-fat granola is dense in B vitamins and is a good source of whole grains and fiber. Blueberries are high in anti-oxidants which fight off the free radicals produced during exercise thus work to help you recover faster.
The “Anytime Yogurt Berry Parfait”
- 7 oz 2% Greek yogurt
- 2/3 cup Kellogg’s Low-fat Granola and Raisins
- 1⁄2 cup blueberries
Nutrition Facts: Calories: 403, Carbohydrate: 67 gm, Fiber: 5 gm, Protein: 21 gm, Fat: 7 gm, Cholesterol: 13 mg
If you want to use the parfait as a post-workout snack, eat it within 30 minutes after your workout. Its 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein is ideal for replenishing stored carbohydrates that were burned off in exercise as well as starting the muscle repair process.
Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD is a registered dietitian for Ben Hogan Sports Medicine and serves as the sports dietitian for the Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers, FC Soccer Dallas, Jim McClean Golf School, Texas Christian University Athletics, and University of Texas at Arlington Athletics. In addition, she is an adjunct professor and dietetic intern preceptor for Texas Woman’s University, Texas Christian University and the University of Texas at Arlington and is a state media representative for the Texas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. . She received her Bachelor of Science degree in speech communications from Texas Christian University and Masters in Exercise and Sports Nutrition from Texas Woman’s University.