Performance Fueling Guidelines

Although good eating habits cannot substitute for physical training and genetic endowment, proper daily diet, training and game diet, plus appropriate supplemental choices are crucial for top-notch performance.  Performance eating together with targeted physical training will elevate athletic achievement to a new level.

Just as top grade fuel is crucial to the performance of a sports car; good nutrition is the cornerstone to optimal athletic training and performance.  Inadequate nutrition leads to sub-optimal results.

The Basics

  • All major nutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fats), play a significant role in the performance diet for athletes.
  • Fad diets that propose the elimination of any food group are not reliable athletic choices.
  • The combination of carbohydrates and proteins together particularly enhance an athlete’s performance and recovery.
  • Vitamins and minerals (found in a diet rich in lean and vegetable protein, whole grain carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables) are essential in regulating an athlete’s energy, growth and repair processes.  One multi-vitamin per day is also recommended.
  • Water is the most important supplement an athlete can take.  Water is a major constituent of most of the body’s cells, (muscles are 80% water). When an athlete fails to remain hydrated, energy levels, and muscle strength/size are compromised.
  • Thirst is not a good indicator of adequate hydration levels.  Athletes must plan to drink water frequently throughout the day.
  • To maintain hydration levels, athletes need to be aware that salt- and caffeine-containing foods and drinks encourage dehydration.
  • Sodas and high fat/high sodium (salt) fast food are not performance enhancing foods.
  • Most athletes will benefit from eating small amounts frequently, rather than trying to obtain all their calories in three major meals.

Performance Nutrition for Tiger Athletes

Nutrition Paw

Solid Orange Food Choices

Carbohydrates, Fruit and Vegetables

  • Every meal and snack should contain carbohydrates.
  • Approximately one half of the food on your plate should consist of carbohydrates.
  • Two thirds of your plate should consist of carbohydrates and vegetables.
  • Immediately after training or playing, eat a high carbohydrate snack that is easy to digest.  This will ensure that your energy stores are rapidly replaced.
  • Drink an energy drink during training/playing to maintain energy levels.
  • Remember that many fruits and vegetables are good sources of carbohydrate.
  • Beans and legumes such as black beans and split peas are excellent protein sources while providing a good source of carbohydrate.

Solid Orange Carbohydrates: choices for everyday diet.  These foods supply the body with a long-lasting, consistent source of energy.

Whole Wheat
     English muffins
     Unsweetened cereals

    Dried beans and peas
    Black beans
    Kidney beans
    Garbanzo beans (chickpeas)

Starchy Vegetables
    Squash and zucchini
    Green beans and peas
     Potatoes with skin

    Spinach / collard greens
    Romaine lettuce

  Nectarines / peaches
  Oranges / grapefruit


Special Carbohydrates

  • Typically, high glycemic carbohydrates (i.e. those that are absorbed into the blood very rapidly) should be avoided. This is because they do not provide lasting energy. 
  • They should especially be avoided right before activity / training / match since they may cause a rapid depletion in blood sugar levels due to the response of insulin.
  •  However, in situations where it is essential to quickly increase blood sugar levels for the purpose of re-stocking muscle energy stores, these carbohydrate sources can be particularly useful.
  • As soon after training / playing as possible, and certainly within 30 minutes, consumption of these foods may help recovery by restoring used energy levels.

Carbohydrates to replace used
energy stores within 30 minutes
of activity

Animal crackers
Dried fruits
French bread
Plain bagel
Energy bars
Apple sauce (sweetened)
Fruit in syrup
Cereal bars
Mashed potatoes
White rice
Orange juice
Recovery shakes and drinks

Infrequent Carbohydrates, Fruits and Vegetables

  • The following foods, although part of the carbohydrate, fruit and vegetable families, are not the best habitual choices for athletic performance.
  • Athletes concerned about body composition (i.e. wanting to reduce fat, or prevent fat gain), and lowering or maintaining body weight, need to eliminate these foods from their diet, or at least eat them very infrequently.
  • Most of these “carbohydrate” choices are loaded with fat, which is essential in the diet, but can be obtained more healthfully from cooking in vegetable oils (canola and olive oil), nuts, and dairy and meat products!

Breads etc.

     Cinnamon rolls
     Coffee cake
     Danish pastries   


    “Corn” chips
    Onion rings
    Fried potatoes (French fries)
    Vegetables canned in brine (salt)
    Vegetables cooked in butter
    Vegetables in hollandaise or
         other creamy sauce


    Coconut (in large quantities)
    Fruit fritters
    Fruit canned in syrup
    “Fruit” juices (check label for
          sugar content)

Lean Proteins

  • Proteins are essential for building and repair of the body’s cells. 
  • Athletes have higher protein needs than the general public because of the constant repair and building of tissues.
  • Athlete protein requirements are approximately 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.  This is more than double the regular requirement, and is at the upper limit of the range cited by various sports studies.
  • Because of the volume of food (calories) an athlete needs to consume to meet energy levels, most athletes can usually meet their protein needs through food choices – if they eat a balanced diet.
  • The vegetarian athlete needs to pay special attention to protein choices to ensure a balanced intake of all amino acids (the building blocks of protein).
  • Although this section deals with common lean protein choices, it should be remembered that protein is actually found in many other foods (breads for example) – just in smaller quantities.
  • Protein intake should be spread throughout the day.

Solid Orange Proteins: choices for everyday diet.  These are lower fat high quality protein choices.

choose baked, roasted, grilled, broiled, poached
    Chicken (white best)
    Turkey (white best)
    Lean roast beef
    85% lean meats
    Trimmed pork chops
    Lean baked ham
    Canned tuna - in water

choose 1-2% fat, lowfat or non-fat
    Dried milk
    Egg whites
    Egg substitute



   Dried beans and peas
   Black beans
   Kidney beans
   Chick peas
   Peanut butter (red. fat)

Infrequent Protein Choices

  • Athletes concerned about body composition (i.e. wanting to reduce fat, or prevent fat gain), and lowering body weight, need to eat these foods infrequently.

    Dark chicken or turkey
    Poultry with skin
    Breaded meats
    Hot dogs
    Any fried meat/fish
    Processed meats

    Whole milk
    Whole eggs
    Regular yogurt
    Regular cheese


Athletes, especially during summer months need to pay special attention to remaining hydrated.  Dehydration negatively affects athletic performance, but worse, during hot and humid conditions, it can be life-threatening.

  • Athletes need to drink water consistently throughout the day.
  • Lost weight from a competition or practice should be replaced with water and sports drinks.
  • Athletes should take the time during breaks in play to sip on water or a sports drink.
  • The color of an athlete’s urine is indicative of their hydration level – it should be colorless.
  • If an athlete allows themselves to become thirsty, they are already dehydrated to the level that cannot be overcome during that particular practice / match.

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