Olympic-Sized Diet: Heart-Healthy Options for Pre and Post Workout

Melanie Thomassian Health Pro
  • Knowing what foods to eat prior to an important event can be a major challenge for competitive athletes, and pre event nerves often play havoc with athletes as they try to make healthy food choices.

    However, not eating enough can be as much of a problem as eating the wrong foods. Low blood sugars may potentially lead to weakness, fainting, or undue tiredness, and they can also affect mental ability, reducing reaction times.

    As the previous article demonstrated, reaching your peak performance isn't just about being physically fit; nutrition also has a huge role in helping you reach your full potential.

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    What should you eat pre-event?

    It isn't advisable to eat too much prior to exercise. "Your body can digest food while you're active, but not as well as it can when you're not exercising, this is partly because your body is trying to do two things, requiring blood supply, and energy simultaneously digesting the food you just ate, and providing fuel to keep your muscles active" - Stephen De Boer, Dietician.

    Key points to remember when choosing a healthy snack or meal:

    • Don't skip meals.
    • Eat extra carbohydrate and drink plenty of fluid 24 hours prior to the event.
    • Have your last meal 3-4 hours before the event, for example baked potato with tuna, and a small serving of salad.
    • Have a light snack 2 hours before.
    • Opt for high carbohydrate, low fat snacks, which will be more easily digested.
    • Fatty meals, or snacks, take longer to empty from the stomach, so these should be avoided.
    • Meals and snacks should contain moderate amounts of protein to satisfy hunger.
    • Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, as well as during and after exercise.

    Pre event snacks

    • Pre event foods need to be broken down easily to meet the body's high-energy requirements. Here are a few suggestions:
    • Small bowl of cereal, or oatmeal, with milk and a banana
    • 1 wholegrain pita pocket spread with cottage spread, topped with rocket and sliced tomatoes
    • 1/2 cup of nuts and dried fruit
    • Wholegrain crackers with cheese and tomato
    • Fresh fruits, such as an orange, apple, banana, or pear
    • Vegetable, or chicken noodle soup
    • 3/4 cup of yogurt with a handful of berries
    • 1 wholegrain slice of toast, with peanut butter/honey/cheese
    • Half a sandwich, with wholegrain bread, salad, and lean meat
    • A smoothie made with milk, natural yoghurt, and frozen berries
    • Low fat granola bar
    • Glass of milk, or 100% whole fruit/vegetable juice
    • Raw vegetables with hummus
    • Hard boiled egg

    What should you eat post event?

    Aim to consume a carbohydrate rich snack as soon as possible following intense periods of activity; this will aid your recovery.

    Similar rules apply when choosing a post event snack to that of a pre event snack. However, it will be easier if it's something that can be easily transported to the track, field, or other venue.

    Post event snack options:

    • Sandwich with lean beef, chicken, tuna, boiled egg, low fat cheese, or jam and peanut butter
    • Banana
    • High fiber cereal with low fat milk
    • Natural yogurt
    • Fruit based biscuits (check nutritional label)
    • Fresh fruit
    • Mixed nuts and dried fruit
    • Low fat cereal bar
    • Sports drink
    • Fruit smoothies

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    Melanie Thomassian is a professional dietitian, and author of the award winning dietriffic.com. For advice relating to your individual sporting needs, please contact a Registered Sports Dietitian.


Published On: August 11, 2008