A Performance Nutrition Checklist from a Sports Dietitian

  • author name McKenna Welshans, MBA, RD, LDN, ACSM-EP
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Whether you are an NFL player who needs to reach a specific body composition before your season starts; a triathlete struggling with GI upset and maintaining energy levels during the second half of the marathon; or someone who enjoys leisurely walking and wants to eat in a way to improve strength, a performance dietitian (aka a sports dietitian) can help.

Traditionally, sports nutrition has been the term that refers to proper fueling strategies for athletes. But if you are an active person who enjoys exercise, sports nutrition is for you too. So, for the sake of this article, I am re-naming sports nutrition--performance nutrition.

Applying Nutritional Information to Your Active Life

There is no lack of factual information on nutrition. But applying that information to your personal situation is not as straight-forward. Food is just one part of the picture. It’s really about changing behavior. A nutrition professional serves as a coach, helping you apply what you know to your real life, dispelling myths along the way. Here are ways we can guide you toward strategies that can improve your quality of life long-term.

11 Components of Performance Nutrition: How a Dietitian Can Help

  1. Improve body composition for sport. Increase muscle mass or lose body fat without compromising power or speed to reach your optimal competition weight.
  2. Gain faster speed and better performance through adequate nutrition before, during, and after your event to make the most of the time you invest in training.
  3. Assure proper fuel for vegan/plant-based diets to support the intensity and volume of training. These eating patterns can be low in crucial vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients. 
  4. Increase stamina and endurance. Low-carb, ketogenic, and fasted training all have their place, but it’s important to incorporate these into daily life without compromising performance. You must be strategic with your carbs and how you fuel your training sessions.
  5. Nutritionally fuel your training and recovery to get the most out of each session, recover optimally, and continue progressing forward.
  6. Cooking, recipes and meal plan support. Get ideas for buying and preparing food and making meal plans, including mini cooking demonstrations on making tasty, nutritious snacks 
  7. Understand food allergies and intolerances. Nutritional guidance and personalized meal planning is important if you have food allergies or intolerances and need to follow a specific diet like GF or low-FODMAP.
  8. Hydration and dehydration. Learn to choose the best fluids to drink before, during, and after exercise; avoid dehydration, cramping or over-hydrating.
  9. Gut issues when training or racing. Get solutions that work fast on GI issues like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or cramping, that keep you from performing at your best.
  10. Race plan nutrition planning. Create a nutrition plan that you are confident will give you the best performance come race day. A race day plan should incorporate real food, sports supplements, gels, electrolytes, sports drinks, bars or chews specifically geared to your event and preferences. 
  11. Label reading. Learn what ingredients to avoid and how to clearly understand what’s in the package you’re buying.
A sports nutritionist can help you meet your athletic goals by managing your diet. Call 717-627-7675 to schedule an appointment.
author name

McKenna Welshans, MBA, RD, LDN, ACSM-EP

McKenna Welshans, MBA, RD, LDN, ACSM-EP is a sports nutritionist with LG Health Physicians Sports Medicine. She completed her undergraduate and graduate degrees and a dietetic internship at Messiah College, double majoring in nutrition and exercise science. She ran collegiate track before transitioning into ultra-endurance triathlon competitions. She is passionate about personalized nutrition for both performance maximization and health.

Call: 717-627-7675

About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.


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