Roanna Martin

"make [food] simple and let things taste of what they are." {Curnonsky}


Pre-Workout Snack and Post-Workout Breakfast: Swimmers Version

A few weeks ago, I talked about food as fuel for performance. This afternoon I was able to share some of those tips with a group of male and female swimmers, poolside.

They jumped out of the water, filed onto the bleachers, and gave me their attention as I spoke about the importance of early morning nutrition. My fellow intern Emily spoke about the importance of hydration. We managed not to fall into the pool as we spoke to the team, despite the slippery pool deck ūüôā

Since their AM practice begins at 5:30, this group of athletes is up early. I was pleasantly surprised to see by a show of hands that most of them do eat something before they go to practice. There were a handful who didn’t- and most of them just couldn’t stomach the thought of eating something solid that early in the morning. I suggested that they try something like a fruit smoothie, or even a meal replacement drink to get some early AM nutrition.

After a meal, there are typically only 40 calories’ worth of glucose circulating in the bloodstream, and about 1900 calories’ worth of glycogen stored in your liver and muscles. Add to that a night of “fasting” (prior to breakfast), and there’s not much fuel for athletes to pull from for a morning workout. Eating a small snack will place some glucose in the bloodstream, and give the body something to pull from without dipping into muscle glycogen stores, which would be counter-productive (pulling energy from muscles to build muscle). Granted, metabolic pathways are MUCH more complex than that, but that’s a simple explanation that gets the main point across.

The point is that you need to EAT.

It is recommended that athletes consume a pre-workout snack 30 minutes-1 hour before a workout. It doesn’t have to be much- a half a granola bar, a handful of trail mix, a piece of toast with a bit of honey. Anything that is high in carb, moderate in protein, and low in fat and fiber (to avoid gastrointestinal discomfort) will suffice.

After the early morning workout, swimmers should try to eat as soon as possible- some sources suggest 15 minutes post-workout. Thirty minutes post-workout will do. Approximately 75 g of carb for a 150 lb athlete is a pretty good goal, and then they should eat another 75 g carb again 2 hours later.

For the athletes who eat in the dining hall, I suggested that they have a piece of fruit or granola bar (or half of either if their calorie needs are smaller) right after their workout, and then head to the dining hall as soon as they can, where they should fuel up on nutrient dense foods. 

The post-workout meal should be high in low to moderate glycemic carbohydrate and lean protein, and low in fiber and fat. 

Some recommended breakfast include:

1 1/2 c raisin bran cereal with 1 cup skim milk and 1 cup of berries

2 pancakes, 3 Tbsp syrup, 1/2 c fresh fruit, 1 c skim milk

6 oz yogurt, 1 medium banana, 1/2 c granola

Athletes should continue to eat and hydrate frequently throughout the day- every 2 hours is recommended. That doesn’t mean that they should consume a huge meal every 2 hours- small snacks are excellent and effective in keeping energy levels stable and preventing fatigue.

Keep hydrating. Keep eating. Keep swimming.





Food: Fuel for Performance

This week I have been learning more about sports nutrition at my rotation with WVU.

I ran cross country and track in high school, and a season of each in college, so I knew from personal experience what sort of food worked well for me at competitions. However, I didn’t know very much about the science of nutrition as I was fueling myself. I would generally do a higher carbohydrate meal the night before a race, and then a piece of fruit an hour or so before a competition, with some sort of snack afterwards.

Nutrition is important throughout the training process, and athletes should emphasize small frequent meals, whole grain carbohydrates paired with lean protein or healthy fat with all meals or snacks, and drink plenty of water.

The main goal is to provide “sufficient energy for daily activity and extra energy expended in exercise, in addition to replacing glycogen (energy) stores and repairing lean muscle mass” (Sports Nutrition Care Manual).

Helpful daily guidelines for endurance athletes include:


  • ¬†5-7 g/kg body weight each day for moderate duration and low-intensity training
  • 7-12 g/kg body weight for heavy training


  • 1.2-1.7 g/kg body weight


  • .8-1 g/kg body weight

Meals should be eaten 3-4 hours before exercise, and should be high in low-glycemic carbohydrates and lean protein, and low in fiber and fat.

A snack should be consumed 30 minutes to 1 hour before exercise, and should be high in carbohydrates, moderate in protein, and low in fat and fiber.

During exercise, it is recommended to consume 30-60 g carbohydrate per hour, spaced out over that time period.

5-10 oz of water or a sports drink should be consumed every 15-20 minutes to ensure hydration.

Within 30 minutes of completing exercise, a snack that contains a 4:1 ratio of high glycemic carbohydrates to lean protein should be eaten. Lowfat chocolate milk is actually a good post-workout snack.

In the past few years, I’ve begun to enjoy participating in 5K community races and even a few half-marathons. I love the extra daily motivation that comes with having a goal to work towards, and the ¬†encouraging atmosphere at these events. Some participants are there to truly compete and win, but a lot of people are, like me, just out to test their personal fitness and enjoy the competition.

Today was a first for me- I competed in the Morgantown Healthcare Sprint, Splash, and Spin triathlon. Here are a few pics from the day.

If you want to perform well, you’ve got to give your body the fuel that it needs.

Source: ADA Sports Nutrition Care Manual

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BMI vs. Body Composition

I’m assuming that most people have heard of BMI- or Body Mass Index. It’s basically a ratio of your height to weight. In the metric system, this is¬†calculated as your weight in kilograms divided by your weight in meters squared. In the English system, you multiply your weight by 703 and then divide by your height in inches squared. The resulting number, your BMI, then places you in one of the following categories:

  • Underweight: BMI < 18.5
  • Healthy Weight: BMI 18.5-24.9
  • Overweight: BMI 25-29.9
  • Obese: BMI 30.39.9
  • Extreme Obesity: BMI > 40



To test this yourself, plug your numbers in at the Mayo Clinic.

This is a very quick way to assess weight status, and can be helpful in certain circumstances such as reflecting disease risk. However, BMI does not always provide a true picture of health, since it does not reflect body fat. Therefore, very muscular people may be classified as overweight.

In order to assess lean and adipose tissue, several other methods are used by health professionals. Assessing the waist circumference is one of the most practical indicators of fat distribution. Intra-abdominal fat, or central obesity, is more closely associated with increased risks of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, hypertension, gallstones, and some types of cancer. In general, waist circumference greater than the following values are at higher risk of the above diseases:

Women: Waist circumference > 35 inches

Men: Waist circumference > 40 inches

 Waist to hip ratio can also be used as a marker, but the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends circumference alone because the ratio requires extra steps and does not provide any additional information.

If you have access to it, another great way to assess body composition is using a more technologically involved approach such as bioelectrical impedance. Today I got to see the bioelectrical impedance machine at work with some athletes here at WVU, since I am working with the Registered Dietitian on campus. This model¬†requires that you stand on a scale with electrodes, and place your hands on electrode receptors. A low-intensity electrical current is sent through your body. Because electrolyte- containing fluids are found primarily in lean body tissues, the leaner the person, the less resistance there is to the current. The measurement of electrical resistance is then used as part of a mathematical equation to estimate the percentage of body fat. You can purchase bioelectrical impedance machines for home use, but they are typically just a scale, or just handheld. Since the electric pulse is coming from just one side, you will get a more accurate reading of just the bottom half (scale) or top half (handheld) part of your body. So, these aren’t the most accurate devices.


The assessment is completed after fasting (preferably first thing in the morning before breakfast) and prior to drinking any liquid. You simply stand on the scale quietly and the machine does its work. Then you get a great printout that indicates amount of lean body mass, body fat (or adipose) mass, body water balance, and percent body fat. One really neat thing is that you can even see a segmental lean analysis- where each arm, leg, and trunk are assessed for lean mass.


Although not feasible and accessible for everyone, body composition by bioelectrical impedance is a great way to assess your lean body mass!

Source: Whitney E and Rolfes SR. Understanding Nutrition. 11th Ed.Thomson and Wadsworth. 2008.