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Eating a balanced amount of carbohydrate, fat and protein is important to play sports at your best. Following Canada’s Food Guide is a good first step to ensure you are getting the amount of carbohydrate, protein and fat you need. The food guide recommends a healthy eating pattern with a balance from each of the four food groups. Read on to learn more about how carbohydrate, fat and protein can help you play sports at your best.
If you simply enjoy playing sports as a hobby, you can get enough carbohydrate, fat and protein by following Canada’s Food Guide.
If you are an athlete, you likely need more food than Canada’s Food Guide recommends during training. Follow these tips to make sure you are getting the carbohydrate, fat and protein you need:
When you do not get enough calories from carbohydrate, fat and protein, your performance may not be the best it could be.
If you are going to play sports like soccer, hockey or tennis or exercise intensely for more than an hour, follow Canada’s Food Guide as a starting point. Then choose a few extra servings of carbohydrate-rich foods throughout the day before playing sports or exercising.
Each of these is about 1 serving of carbohydrate-rich foods:
The number of extra servings you need will depends on your weight. Heavier athletes need more servings than lighter athletes.
If you enjoy being physically active (like playing sports for fun or jogging occasionally), follow Canada’s Food Guide to meet your protein needs. Many people think they need more protein, but usually this is not the case.
You may need more protein if you exercise intensely or for long sessions (90 minutes or more) many days of the week or if you are trying to build muscle mass.
You can get more protein by eating a few extra servings from the Milk and Alternative and Meat and Alternative food groups after your workout and including protein at snacks throughout the day.
Each of these is about 1 serving of protein-rich foods:
If you would like to know how many extra servings of carbohydrate-rich and protein-rich food you should aim for, a Registered Dietitian can assess your diet and give you recommendations. Find a Dietitian here.
About 2 to 3 hours before playing sports, eat a meal that is rich in carbohydrate, low in fat and fairly low in protein and fibre for quick digestion. Here are some examples:
Your portion size will depend on how intense or long your training session will be, your sex and body weight.
If you do not have time for a meal 2 to 3 hours before playing a sport, choose high carbohydrate meals/snacks that are quick to digest.
During sports, your body needs easy-to-digest foods or fluids. Carbohydrate will help you maintain normal blood sugar, allow you to perform better and help you to exercise longer and/or with greater intensity.
Your best approach is to drink your carbohydrates in a sports drink, but for longer exercise sessions of 2 hours or more, additional solid carbohydrates may be needed like fruit, a cereal bar, yogurt or oatmeal.
After playing sports, your body is ready to store energy again, repair muscles and re-hydrate. Within 30 minutes, eat a snack like:
Your portion size will depend on how intense or long your training session was, your sex and body weight.
Eating a balanced amount of carbohydrate, fat and protein is important to play sports at your best. Follow Canada’s Food Guide to make sure you are getting the amount of carbohydrate, protein and fat you need. If you are an athlete or play sports intensely or for long periods, you would benefit from more servings from Canada’s Food Guide. Planning your meals and snacks before, during and after playing sports will help you perform at your best.
If you would like to help with your eating pattern, a Registered Dietitian can assess your diet and give you recommendations. Find a Dietitian here.
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