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Are you Under Fueling?

Updated: Jul 8, 2022

Dana Eshelman, MS, RDN

Signs of under fueling:

  • Reduced energy

  • Loss of muscle mass

  • Increased risk of injury

  • Loss of bone mass

  • Dehydration

  • Decreased strength

  • Delayed recovery

  • Increased anxiety/depression

  • Decreased concentration & coordination

If you can match with any of these, then there is a good chance you are under fueling! This does not help you achieve your performance or aesthetic, nor does it make you feel your best. I am here to tell you how to prevent this so you can LEVEL UP!

How to avoid underfeeding:

Aim to eat a meal or snack with protein + healthy fats + carbohydrate + color every 2-4 hours. Develop a schedule that works best for you.

4:00am pre workout snack 5:00am workout 6:30am breakfast 9:30am snack 12:30pm lunch 3:00pm snack 6:00pm dinner 8:00pm bedtime snack

OR maybe you prefer to sleep in a little and have an evening workout

7:00am breakfast 10:30am snack 1:00pm lunch 3:00pm snack

5:30pm workout 7:30pm dinner 9:00pm bedtime snack

Consider a night time snack 1-2 hours before bed with protein and carbohydrate.

  • 1 slice whole grain toast + 1 T nut or seed butter

  • 1 cup whole grain cereal (<5 grams sugar) + ½ cup milk/ milk alternative

  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt + ½ c fruit

  • Pear with ½ c cottage cheese

Plan meals and snacks ahead of time. Think about the components of meals having protein + fat + carbohydrate + color!

  • 4 oz chicken + 1 T balsamic vinaigrette + ½ c quinoa + ¼ c garbanzo beans + 1 cup bell pepper, onion, mushroom, kale

  • 4 oz tilapia + ¼ c shredded cheese + 3 corn tortillas + ¼ c black beans + 1 cup tomato, olive, lettuce + ½ c mango salsa

  • Side of 1 c greek yogurt + 2 oatmeal pancakes + 2 T almond butter + 1 c berries

Match carbohydrates to meet your activity level. The longer duration and higher the intensity your workouts become, the more carbohydrate you will need. Carbohydrates are your body's preferred source of fuel at higher heart rates. They are important for energy and recovery.

  • It is recommended to have 3- 10 g carbohydrate/ kg body weight for endurance athletes. The amount will vary based on individual, training cycle, etc.

Do not fear fats! These are important to maintain hormone levels and for overall health. Fats should not fall under 20% of your total calorie intake!

Choose a snack with the ratio of 3-4 g carb to 1 g protein within 45 minutes of working out. That post-race chocolate milk is the perfect ratio of carbs to protein!

Aim for 25- 35 grams of fiber per day, not more. Too much fiber can make you feel full and discourage eating on a schedule. Fiber rich foods include whole grains, fruits with skin, veggies, legumes and nuts/ seeds.

  • Fiber should also be paired with adequate hydration!! Be sure to drink your water!

Avoid excluding food groups unless you have an allergy/ intolerance.

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