Nutrition Bars And Shakes - A Matter Of Convenience
Published August 24, 2013 12:46
Athletes have high nutritional demands yet have limited time to prepare fresh foods. With limited time, many athletes will turn to various bars and shakes as quick sources of carbohydrates and protein. Carbohydrates give energy to fuel tennis players on the court and protein helps hard working muscles bounce back strong. With the shelves of supplement stores and grocery stores overflowing with choices, choosing the right bars and shakes can be overwhelming.
If all of your fellow players are taking them you must be missing out, right? Not entirely. The most important thing is that you get the appropriate amounts of macro and micronutrients each day, for your individual needs. If these nutrients need to come from bars and shakes when you're busy, by all means consume them, but they are really only a necessity for convenience. Both are very portable and the right nutritional shake can provide several benefits including; protein for muscle repair and growth, carbohydrates for energy, and fluids for hydration.
To help you fit in enough carbohydrates and protein for peak performance throughout the day here are some situations where bars and shakes can be convenient:
• Just got out of a film session or class with little time to fuel up before practice?
A light bar or shake that is lower on protein and fat can be a great option to get your body fueled up for exercise without causing an upset stomach. Good options here include various Nature Valley and Special K Bars.
• Tight on time in the morning when trying to get as much quality sleep as possible?
Grabbing a bar or shake is a better option than skipping breakfast and losing energy during the second half of practice. Good options might be USANA's Chocolate Whey Nutrimeal or a Designer Whey shake with a banana.
• Afraid you'll be skipping or forgetting a meal due to your hectic schedule?
Bars or shakes that provide at least 15 g of protein and 30 g of carbohydrate will help keep your energy high and keep you full. A USANA Oatmeal Raisin Nutrition Bar with a Designer Whey Shake would be great here.
• Don't have much of an appetite after exercise?
Some athletes do not feel like eating before or after exercise. However, given their busy schedules it is important to start recovery nutrition as soon as possible after exercise to ensure it is not forgotten. A shake with at least 15-20 g of protein and at least 40 g other drinkable carbohydrates such as a sports drink are a great way to start the recovery process even if you don't yet have an appetite. Along with your sports drink or water, have a Shamrock Farms Rockin' Refuel.
In addition to getting the appropriate amounts of macronutrients—carbohydrates, protein, and fats—from your bars and shakes, there are other things to also keep in mind when choosing bars and shakes:
- When possible avoid bars with hydrogenated oils. While they may taste good and help extend the shelf-life, regular consumption of these can lead to adverse effects on the health of the heart and blood vessels.
- Be mindful of the amount of sugar alcohols—sorbitol, xylitol, erythritol and malitol—in different bars and know how your body responds to them ahead of time. If you are someone who is sensitive to these sugar alcohols, try bars with lower amounts before a match to avoid possible stomach discomfort.
- Keep total calories in mind. Depending upon your goals, some shakes and bars are designed to help athletes in strength/power sports (i.e. football) gain weight, and may not be appropriate for your tennis goals. As a general rule, if one bar or shake contains over 300 calories per serving it might not be the best choice for a tennis player.
* Note that this guide is based off the assumption that you are an active individual and participating in tennis regularly.
Thanks to John Bosse, MS, RD, CD, NSCA-CPT
USANA Health Sciences' Senior Scientist of Product Innovation
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