5 Nutrition Tips for New Athletes

Beginner athletes often struggle with under-fueling their workouts, particularly when taking on a new endurance endeavor like a triathlon or a half marathon. A common misconception of beginner athletes is that they have to be "competitive" or "elite" to need to replenish their body like experienced athletes. Also, beginners often have weight loss goals, leading them to reduce calories before, during or after workouts, which does not promote weight loss or enjoyment in exercise. As a result of not getting enough of the right nutrients at the right time, beginners fatigue early during exercise, both mentally and physically.

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These are the top tips for beginner athletes who want to feel great during exercise to reach their performance and body composition goals.

Don't Exercise on an Empty Stomach

Put some gas in your tank before starting your workout. Carbohydrate is the preferred fuel for exercise, so 30 to 60 minutes before exercise eat something that is easily digested and carbohydrate-rich. Great pre-workout snacks are:

  • Low-fat fruit yogurt
  • A banana
  • A slice of 100 percent whole grain toast with fruit preserves
  • A small bowl of oatmeal with sliced strawberries or apples

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Before workouts lasting 90 minutes or more, a more substantial pre-workout meal is appropriate to help your stomach feel satisfied throughout the exercise session.  A balanced meal before a workout could be:
  • Low-fat fruit yogurt with a sprinkle of granola and sliced pecans
  • Sliced banana and natural peanut butter spread on 100 percent whole grain crackers
  • Scrambled eggs with veggies and a slice of 100 percent whole grain toast with fruit preserves
  • A bowl of oatmeal with sliced fruit and a side of cottage cheese or chicken sausage

Pay Attention to the Toilet

As the temperature climbs and you spend more and more time sweating, your risk for dehydration will increase. Even slight dehydration makes exercise harder than it has to be. The best indicator of hydration is your urine color. Urine should be a pale yellow color without a strong odor. The goals are to start exercise with pale colored urine and to produce pale urine within an hour of finishing your workout.

If you are noticing dark-colored urine following workouts, you need to drink more throughout your workout. However, if your urine is clear or if you have to stop repeatedly to use the restroom during exercise, you are drinking more fluids than you need and you can back off on your intake.

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