Spring is here, which for many of us also means the start of spring sports.

Proper nutrition is important for all athletes including weekend warriors, high school athletes and young athletes.

In today’s “On the Menu” segment, Registered Dietitian Katie Francisco is here to discuss fueling your fitness.

Regardless if your sport is running, soccer, baseball or lacrosse, here are a few basic guidelines to help you optimally fuel you or your little athlete.

Timing – When you eat is every bit as important as what you eat. Eating too close to game time can make you feel nauseated and crampy. Not eating enough throughout the day can leave your fuel tank empty, and the results are fatigue and sub-optimal performance. It is also crucial to eat after training for muscle repair and recovery.

According to the Academy of Nutrition and dietetics, carbs are needed to fuel your muscles. The trick is to choose complex carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables and whole grains while avoiding refined carbohydrates. Your body also needs protein to build and repair muscles. Try to spread your protein intake out throughout the day. For best results, eat a mixture of carbs and protein one-to-three hours pre-workout and within 20 minutes post-workout.

Hydration – Most athletes know that they should drink water when they are exercising. But did you know that keeping your body well-hydrated before you start working out can decrease your risk for muscle cramping, fatigue and injury?

According to the NCAA and Sports Science Institute, as little as a 2-3% loss in body weight from sweating can affect performance. Water is the best choice for staying hydrated, unless you are intensely exercising for greater than an hour. In that case, sports drinks may be consumed to maintain energy and electrolytes.

Remember to drink water throughout the day and choose foods with high water content, like fresh fruits and vegetables.

For an individualized nutrition plan, please visit a registered dietitian nutritionist.



Yogurt parfait


  • 8 oz vanilla Greek Yogurt
  • 4 oz Granola or Whole Grain Cereal
  • 4 oz fresh berries or other fresh fruit


Layer yogurt, granola and fruit in bowl or glass and repeat such that there are 2-3 layers of each. Best enjoyed within 1-2 hours of preparation.

No-bake energy bites


  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 2/3 cup toasted, sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup ground golden flaxseed meal
  • 6 T mini chocolate chips


In a mixing bowl, stir together peanut butter, honey and vanilla extract. Add remaining ingredients and stir until evenly coated. Transfer mixture to refrigerator or freezer and chill.

Remove from refrigerator and shape into 1-inch balls. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container.

(adapted from Smashed Peas and Carrots)

Whole wheat pasta salad with avocado


  • 1 (12 ounce) box whole wheat rotini pasta
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 3 T white vinegar
  • lemon, juiced
  • 1 T honey
  • 2 avocados - peeled, pitted, and chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • ½ c match-stick carrots
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 t chopped fresh basil
  • 2 t chopped fresh cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste


Cook the rotini according to package directions. Whisk olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and honey together in a bowl until smooth. Mix pasta, chopped vegetables and herbs together. Drizzle dressing over pasta mixture and toss to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Butterfly Bags


  • 1 bunch green grapes, washed
  • 1 bunch red grapes, washed
  • 1 package string cheese
  • plastic sandwich bags
  • brightly colored pipe cleaners


Mix green and red grapes together. Place 12-20 grapes in each sandwich bag. Remove excess air and push half of grapes to each side. Twist bag in the middle and secure with pipe cleaner for butterfly wings. Attach 1 cheese stick in the middle with the pipe cleaner for butterfly body. These also work well with bright colored berries like raspberries, strawberries and blueberries.

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