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Two-a-day practices: Recovery foods and when to eat them

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Many sports use a two-a-day practice regimen to condition and prepare for competition. Maintaining proper nutrition and hydration can help your body recover between practices and stay healthy throughout the sports season.

girl getting peanut butter of the jar

Recovery foods replace what your body may lose during a heavy practice or competition. If you plan to return to activity, eat smaller portions to avoid stomach upset. Refuel with these nutritious choices:

  • 100-percent fruit or vegetable juices
  • Bananas, oranges, grapes or berries
  • Dried fruit
  • Fruit yogurt
  • Chocolate milk
  • Sandwiches made with whole grain bread and lean meats or peanut butter and jelly
  • Pretzels, trail mix or granola bars

After a hard workout, reloading with foods higher in carbohydrates can help quickly refuel your muscles and prepare your body for the next workout. These foods are most beneficial if consumed within the first two hours after practice or competition.

Try these carb reload tips:

  • Focus recovery meals on carbohydrates. Try 75-150 grams of carbs as soon as tolerable after a hard workout.
  • Eat a little protein with carbs to enhance refueling and recovery.
  • Drink enough fluids to quench your thirst and then drink some more.
  • If you crave salt, sprinkle a little on your food or grab a saltier recovery food such as pretzels.
  • Eat wholesome fruits, vegetables and juices that contain potassium, a mineral lost when you sweat.
  • Between workouts, drink natural fruit juices and sports drinks to stay hydrated. Sports drinks are better suited for use during exercise. Water and fruit juice are healthy choices between exercise sessions or after.

Foods to avoid regardless of your practice schedule:

  • Greasy or fried foods
  • Concession stand snacks
  • Foods that give you gas
  • Foods with too much protein
  • Caffeinated or alcoholic beverages
  • Heavy dairy foods​

Food choices make a big difference in the energy and effort your body can put forth during long practices or competition. By choosing the right foods and staying hydrated, you'll not only feel better, you may even perform better.

If you have a suggestion for a topic to be covered in Sports Wrap, email sports.medicine@marshfieldclinic.org.

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