Eating like Team USA

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The 2016 Olympics in Rio are in full swing and it’s got the entire nation tuning in. I’m putting sports nutrition on the podium and sharing how the U.S. Olympic dietitians fuel our athletes (source:

HYDRATION is definitely in the qualifying bracket of importance when it comes to training. Proper methods that keep you hydrated throughout the season are as follows:

  • Start drinking water 2-3 hours before you hit the gym. During that time, more than 16 ounces should be consumed.
  • 15 minutes prior to starting your workout, drink another 8 ounces.
  • Proceed with the workout and continue to throw down some water in order to prevent excessive water/sweat loss.
  • If possible, weigh yourself before and after each workout. A good rule of thumb to follow is for every pound lost, drink 16-24 ounces to recover.

And now for the biggest upset: SPORT DRINKS FAIL to score big in a dietitian’s eyes. Unless you are partaking in a high-intensity workout that lasts longer than 60 minutes, they truly are irrelevant. Most of us are just casual athletes and we don’t need any extra hoops to jump through. Sport drinks like Gatorade and Powerade carry a lot of sugar and sweetening chemicals so pumping your body full of these compounds after a workout doesn’t really make much sense. The better choice for a post-performance drink would be coconut water, a homemade remedy, or just plain water.

emilyt20160810RecoveryMaking your own sport drinks are actually fairly easy. First, choose a base. Something like green tea, coconut water, alkaline water or tap water will do! Add a pinch of salt and then add a little bit of juice for flavor or fresh fruit. I love this because you never know what flavor combinations you’ll find, plus you know exactly what is going to be absorbed into your body.

One last thing regarding hydration: be sure to start replenishing your water levels no later than 30 minutes after you finish your workout because since your heart rate and blood pressure have increased, the nutrient delivery to your muscles is greater for up to 60 minutes post activity. So lets play smart!

Nutrient absorption and muscle recovery is an all-day process. The Olympics website is awesome and provides a very complete list of SNACK IDEAS for post-workout recovery. Everybody likes having a running or lifting buddy and snacking is no different. Protein and carbohydrates are a winning pair. Your source of protein should be greater than 15 grams. For example:
2 cups of soy milk
1 cup of Greek yogurt
1/2 cup of nuts
1 cup of beans
Examples of carbohydrates include:
granola bars

Have you ever wondered how energy labeled foods support athletes? They contain low doses of CAFFEINE and consuming something of this nature beforehand might just give you enough of an edge in your training. Sources of caffeine are chocolate, coffee, tea, etc. It’s a safe boost!

My final notes for sport nutrition has to do with ALCOHOL consumption. There is absolutely no benefit known regarding alcohol consumption and sport enhancement. In fact, binge drinking can affect an athlete’s performance for up to 72 hours after a night out. The U.S. Olympic dietitians advise that all forms of alcohol should be avoided at least 48 hours prior to training or competition. What a good thing to note especially for those athletes competing at the collegiate level.

Our Olympians are going for gold and this is how they keep their bodies in tip-top shape!


Emily Tauschek ’19 is a dietetics and Spanish double major at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.