Hello Health Champion!
Last week I kicked off the first part of our 4-Part series on How to Optimally Fuel as an Athlete by diving into your pre-competition/activity fuel.
If you missed that article, you can check it out here.
This week is all about maximizing your fuel during exercise, training and competition.
How you fuel during activity is the #1 factor of performing at a high level from start to finish.
The amount of fuel you need each training session or competition depends on the intensity of your activity and the length you’ll be working out.
The higher the intensity, the more you need to feed yourself throughout the activity.
You’ll start every game strong because you’ll know how to eat a high quality pre-match meal, but with every step, sprint or jump, you’ll quickly utilize that pre-match fuel.
Here are two examples of high quality pre-match meals:
If you don’t replace that fuel, fatigue will set in and your performance will drop.
Just think of the last time you played a long game without re-fueling, most likely your level kept dropping as the competition continued.
That’s an in-match fueling problem.
This is a big reason why high sugar sport drinks and sugar gel packs were initially created and are used in sports, as a way to get the instant energy to keep playing.
Even though those sugar drinks and gels work for a moment, they spike your blood sugar levels, which triggers the onset of low blood sugar, followed by an energy crash. That crash makes you want to reach for another sugar drink or gel, and the cycle continues.
This all leads to an inconsistent performance in your competition.
High sugar sport drinks and gels are never the answer. During your match you need to continually fuel by eating PFC every 3 (a balance of protein, fats and carbs every 3 hours).
Now, of course, you can’t pull out some chicken and rice in the middle of a match, which is exactly why protein shakes and bars are your best choice for in-match fuel.
Fuel Yourself During a Match by Drinking a Protein Shake/Meal Replacement or Eating a Protein Bar:
During your competition, simply sip on a protein shake/meal replacement or eat part of or an entire protein bar.
The amount of protein shake or bars that need to be consumed during a competition depends on the heat, your conditioning, size and intensity level.
It’s important to always experiment with what works best during training sessions.
But because protein is such a hot topic, there are hundreds of different protein powders (shakes when mixed with fluid), and bars. All those options make it hard to know which one is good for you and made with quality ingredients. So to help, I’m sharing solid guidelines that will quickly expose the imposter shakes and bars from the great quality ones.
Simply follow these guidelines and you’ll fuel with a quality shake or bar.
I also listed a few brands of my favorite ones on the market because of their quality.
Protein Powder/Shakes Guidelines
- The powder needs at least 20 grams of protein per serving. There must be more protein in the powder than carbs and fat.
- The protein source needs to be or a combo of: whey (hydrolyzed, isolate, or concentrate), micellar casein, egg white, or plant based and not contain soy protein. It can have trace amounts of soy in the form of soy lecithin, which has very little soy and is a binder in shakes.
- Avoid soy protein, it’s a cheaper type of protein, difficult to digest and has a lower amount of nitrogen per gram than the other recommended types of protein powders. In addition, most soy is GMO based (genetically modified).
- The powder needs to be gluten-free.
- The powder needs to be low in sugar and use a natural sweetener (like stevia).
These protein shake recommendations can be found at your local supplement store, health facility, or online. You can use any shake you prefer, just make sure it’s high quality and passes the guidelines above.
Protein Shake Brand Recommendations:
- Zen Fuze Protein Shake – made by Jeunesse Global, made with Truecelle (ultra-high quality version of micellar casein) and whey protein, all-natural ingredients, gluten free and flavored with stevia, Zen Fuze can also be used as a meal replacement shake.
My #1 recommended protein shake is Zen Fuze, it’s a shake I helped create and its exclusive protein blend of whey protein and micellar casein helps balance your blood sugar levels and powerfully fuel your body.
Plus, the combination of fiber and probiotics help optimize your digestive system on and off the court.
This shake is next generation protein development and quickly becoming the number one protein shake and meal replacement throughout the world.
- Power Crunch Proto Whey, with hydrolyzed whey, made by BNRG
- Egg White Protein Powder – many quality brands and options
- Vega One Nutritional Shake – made by Vega, plant-based powder
Protein Bars are super convenient, the only problem is they are much more processed than protein powder/shakes.
This is why you should only eat one bar maximum per day and use them when time is tight or as your during competition fuel.
Now just like with protein powders, there are a ton of options when choosing a bar, so here are your guidelines to ensure you choose a good quality protein bar. It’s similar to the guidelines I shared about protein powders.
- Each bar has different flavors, so choose the flavor you prefer.
- The protein in the bar needs to be within a five gram range of the total carbs. For example, if the food label shows twenty grams of carbohydrates, you can eat a bar that has anywhere between fifteen and twenty-five grams of protein. Staying within this five-gram range ensures the bar will be correctly balanced. If the bar has more than five grams more carbs than protein, do not eat it, because it will most likely spike your blood sugar.
- The protein source needs to be either whey (hydrolyzed, isolate, or concentrate), micellar casein, egg white, or plant based and must not contain soy protein. It can have trace amounts of soy in the form of soy lecithin, which has very little soy and is a binder in most protein products. Avoid soy protein, it’s a cheaper type of protein and has a lower amount of nitrogen per gram than the other recommended types of protein bars. In addition, most soy is GMO based (genetically modified).
- The bar should to be gluten-free.
- The bar needs to be low in sugar, preferably high in fiber, and use a natural sweetener (like stevia). Some bars use small amounts of sucralose (fake sugar). If sucralose causes you to experience digestive challenges, avoid it.
Recommended brands of protein bars that meet these guidelines are:
- Power Crunch made by BNRG
- Quest made by Quest, gluten-free
- Rise Protein made by Rise, gluten-free
- Kirkland Protein Bar, made by Costco
- Vega Protein Bar, made by Vega (plant based)
One last thing I want to quickly cover is electrolyte replacement.
We all know how much we can sweat during intense activity.
This amount of perspiration can lead to an electrolyte imbalance and greatly affect your performance.
This is another reason why high sugar drinks and gels are popular.
But no worries, those high sugar drinks are a thing of the past, simply follow these guidelines to keep your electrolytes balanced during your match:
Low Sugar Sport Drinks and Electrolyte Replacement Guidelines:
Most of the time your pre, post and during competition meals and water recommendations will provide a solid amount of electrolytes and hydration throughout your competition and training.
But there are times you’re pushed to the brink in your sport, these electrolyte recommendations are for those times.
Always have these two things in your fuel bag:
- Electrolyte tablets and gels (can get online or at sporting goods store): These tablets or gels are zero to low calories and provide a full spectrum of electrolytes to ensure protection.
- My favorite Electrolyte Tablets are NUUN Tablets. They come in lots of flavors and simply add them to your water.
- Low Sugar Sport Drinks: Gatorade, PowerAde, Vitamin Water and other brands now offer natural and low sugar recovery drinks that kid athletes love and are loaded with electrolytes.
- Simply choose the low sugar sport drinks that have less than 12 grams of sugar and are under 50 calories. And, of course, the more natural and dye free, the better.
- A quick tip is to add these sport drinks to your protein shake, this way you’re getting your competition fuel and electrolytes in your shake. I do this with my Zen Fuze Shake all the time.
- Or if you’re fueling with a protein bar, you can sip on your low sugar sport drink as you eat the bar.
Are you an Athlete looking for the Competitive Edge?
If you are a highly competitive kid, teenage or adult athlete I suggest checking out our robust Athlete Program and E-book.
I designed it to help all high-level athletes get the competitive edge and I have helped thousands of world class athletes around the world unlock their fueling potential.
The Coaching Series is titled for Kids and Teenagers, but it works amazing for ALL Adult Athletes as well.
Thank you for being an Awesome part of our community and excited to see your Inner Athlete fuel like a champion!