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Athlete's Training & Nutrition Guide

Jan 11, 2022 | By: Natural Delights

Dietitian Approved Athlete's Traning & Nutrition Guide

It’s January and many of us are evaluating our “New Year, New You” goals and how we are going to accomplish them in 2022! Maybe you want to exercise more or eat better, but you’re lost at where to start or maybe you’re curious about how to take your training and nutrition game to the next level. Well, we’ve got you covered with our Athlete’s Training & Nutrition Guide and a few tips on how Medjool dates can help fuel you in 2022! Dates can be found in the fresh produce section of the grocery store!

Exercise and Training Tips

While exercise may not seem fun in the moment, research suggests that it can help reduce stress and give you more energy throughout the day. Schedule exercise on your calendar and make time for short bursts of movement during your workday.

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The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the following exercise guidelines for healthy adults:

  • Option 1: 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity a week plus 2 or more days of strength training exercise
  • Option 2: 75 minutes of vigorous/intense activity a week plus 2 or more days of strength training exercise
  • Option 3: A combination of moderate and vigorous/intense activity on 2 or more days of week plus 2 or more days of strength training exercise

Other training tips include:

  • If you are just starting to exercise, don’t start with 5-6 days. Start small and work your way up to more. Schedule 3 days of exercise on your calendar and make that a habit, then add a day and make that habit, etc.
  • Be sure to stretch before and after exercise. Flexibility is important for training, as well as recovery, and it can help with agility needed for movement, chasing kids around, and aging.
  • Every day doesn’t have to be a hard day at the gym. Pick a few days of exercise to push or challenge yourself with weights and higher intensity cardio, then on the in-between days, go at a slower pace. This type of training is helpful for weight loss and conditioning your heart to get stronger.
  • Take a rest day! Rest is often just as important as the exercise itself, as it gives your muscles time to repair. Too much training can cause overuse injuries and make your body feel fatigued and worn down.
  • Don’t just exercise thirty minutes or an hour a day and then sit for the other 23 hours! Take walk breaks at work, climb the stairs instead of taking the elevator, park at the back of the parking lot and get some movement in while you watch your kids or grandkids at sports practice.

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Fueling & Hydrating Your Training

Medjool dates are an excellent source of carbohydrates pre-, during- and post-workout. They can help fuel your exercise routine while also providing your body with other essential nutrients it needs to recover like antioxidants and potassium. Plus, they are a simple, convenient, ready-to-eat snack that you can throw in your gym bag.

Pre-Workout Fuel

Pre-workout nutrition is focused on fueling and hydrating the body for training and performance. 

  • 2 - 4 hours before exercise: Consume a pre-workout meal to provide your body with energy for training. The meal should be:
    • Rich in complex carbohydrates (think oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, Medjool dates)
    • Moderate in lean protein (think eggs, chicken or dairy)
    • Lower in fat (think nuts and oils) and fiber (think broccoli and cauliflower)
    • Consume plenty of fluids pre-workout, at least 16-20 ounces (think water and sports drinks)

During-Workout Fuel

During exercise, the main focus is to stay hydrated.

  • Consume 5 -10 ounces of fluid every 15 - 20 minutes of consistent movement 
  • For those exercising 0 - 90 minutes, water should be an appropriate way to hydrate

For those that train longer than 90 minutes, the sports nutrition recommendation is to add 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour. 

  • If you are training for a marathon, triathlon or endurance event and know your workout will be multiple hours long, then start fueling with carbohydrates earlier in the training session to help prevent fatigue. 
  • If you have never consumed carbohydrates during exercise, start practicing on long runs and/or rides with approximately 20-25 grams of carbohydrate every 30 minutes.  
  • 20 - 30 grams of carbohydrate ideas:
    • 2 dates
    • 4-6 energy bites/blocks
    • 1 banana

Post-Workout Fuel

Post-workout nutrition is focused on recovery. Think of recovery as having 3 R’s: Replenish, Rebuild and Rehydrate.

  • Replenish means you need carbohydrates to replace what was burned off in exercise. Medjool dates are an excellent source of post-workout carbohydrates and can help you replenish your glycogen stores (stored carbohydrate).
  • Rebuild means you need protein. Exercise causes muscle breakdown and thus requires high-quality protein to help rebuild and repair muscle fibers. The general recommendation is approximately 20 grams of high-quality protein post-workout.
  • Rehydrate means you need to drink fluid to replace the fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat. The goal is to consume 16 - 24 ounces per pound of fluid lost during exercise or continue to consume fluid until your urine is a pale yellow to clear in color.


5 Ways to Stick to Your Training & Nutrition Goals

1. Set an achievable goal. “I want to lose 15 pounds” doesn’t help you much. Set a realistic goal of how much weight you want to lose in a week or month and create an action plan to make it happen. Remember, a goal without a plan is just a wish! Then develop five motivational messages to keep you on track and place them where you can see them daily or schedule them on your phone calendar so they alert you.

2. Live by the 80/20 Rule. Healthy eating has to fit into your life or you will never be able to maintain it. While veggies should fill up our plates, it is not realistic to say that you will never eat cake again, so it is important to understand how to make all foods fit. Think of living by the 80/20 Rule. This means that 80 percent of the time you focus on eating nutrient-rich foods like whole grains, lean protein, healthy fat, fruits, and veggies as well as exercising. Then, 20 percent of the time you can include foods that are higher in calories and lower in nutrients.  

3. Schedule in exercise. Most people have to exercise to reach or maintain a healthy weight. Figure out how many days of exercise are possible and schedule them like a meeting on your calendar. If you can’t do it that day, reschedule it. Make exercise a priority.

4. Develop a win/challenge list. As you begin your fitness and nutrition journey, keep a journal on what you are succeeding at, food and exercise-wise, and where the challenges are. If you can identify the challenges, you can determine what needs to change.

5. Be accountable. Find an accountability partner to check in with on a daily or bi-daily basis. This will help you stay on track towards your goal.

If you’re an everyday exerciser or athlete looking to upgrade your fitness nutrition game, check out Amy’s book, The Sports Nutrition Playbook!

You can find Medjool dates recipe inspiration here too!



Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD
Amy Goodson is a registered dietitian and consultant in the Dallas-Fort Worth area with an emphasis on overall health, wellness, and sports nutrition. She is a speaker, spokesperson, and writer and passionate about communicating positive nutrition messages to consumers.




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