Ask the Expert: A Physical Therapist's Perspective & Advice

Continuation of our interview of Scott Miller, PT, MS, SCS, CSCS.

What are your dietary suggestions to the athlete?

“…First, it is important to establish a good nutritional foundation before an event for performance and injury prevention. Typically, two days prior to a event my recommendation is a lighter, protein- based meal (e.g., chicken or fish). The day before the event, more carbohydrate- based meal is recommended (e.g., pasta and bread). Red meat too close to a long or intense event can increase the risk for GI upset and unscheduled trips to the bathroom. This is because red meat takes longer to digest than white meat. Second, understanding the concept of calories out (what is being used during the athletic event) and calories in (replacing 30% of calories “burned” during the event). For example, if it is determined that someone burns 1000 calories/hour during a long endurance activity, the athlete will need to replace 330 calories/hour. A combination of complex carbohydrates (e.g., gels) with a small amount of protein (e.g., bars/endurance drinks) is ideal for longer activities in order to main a stable level of blood sugar and to maintain a steady metabolism. This combination of carbohydrates and protein needs to be present in order to utilize normal body fat metabolism, which is our most efficient form of energy. Finally, providing information on post-workout recovery drink or food is important for reducing the risk of over-use injuries. Consumed within the first 30-45 mins. following intense activity, this can be accomplished in the form of food (e.g., turkey sandwich) or drink (e.g., Endurox R4 Recovery Drink). The reality with sports nutrition is that it is very specific to each individual and needs to be “practiced” prior to a big event to make sure that the desired outcome is achieved. My recommendation is to take notes and trial different types of food, drinks or gels to determine which works the best for each person.”

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