Nutrition for Two-A-Day Workouts

Nutrition for Two-A-Day Workouts

Nutrition for Two-A-Day Workouts

It is important for athletes to know how to fuel their bodies for two-a-day workouts. Having a nutrition plan in place can help ensure that athletes have the energy needed to train at their best.

Let’s explore a variety of nutrition tips to support athletes with training and recovering from two-a-day workouts.

Nutrition for Two-a-Day Workouts: Start the Day Right

When athletes are participating in two-a-day workouts, it is important they go into the first workout well-fueled.

If the first workout is scheduled for early in the morning, athletes should make time to eat a quick high-carb snack before the training session. Similar to gas in a car, carbohydrates provide athletes with the energy needed to perform at their best.

Easy high-carb snacks that athletes can eat on the way to the morning workout include:

  • Banana or small piece of fresh fruit
  • Dried fruit, fruit leather
  • Applesauce squeeze pouch
  • Bagel or toast with jelly
  • Toaster waffle, low-fat muffin
  • Graham crackers, animal crackers
  • Instant oatmeal, dry breakfast cereal
  • Fig bars, breakfast bars, low-fat granola bars
  • Sports drink, chews, gels
Start the Day Right - When athletes are participating in 
two-a-day workouts, it is important they go into the first workout well-fueled.

Two-a-Day Pre-Workout Mini-Meals

If athletes have more time before the first workout of the day, they can eat a larger snack or mini-meal.

Athletes can create a mini-meal by pairing a food high in carbohydrates with a food providing a lean source of protein.

Pre-workout mini-meal ideas include:

Rehydrate and Refuel Between Workouts

When athletes are participating in two-a-day workouts, it is important they have a plan for rehydrating and refueling between training sessions.

Too often I find athletes rush from the workout to class or other activities, and neglect their nutrition needs. However, if an athlete wants to get in a high-quality workout later in the day, I encourage them to make nutrition a priority.

For ideas on snacks that athletes can enjoy following a morning snack prior to class, check out my blog on snacks for college athletes.

Rehydrate and Refuel - It is important for athletes to have a plan for rehydrating and refueling between two-a-day workout sessions.

Rehydrating Between Workouts

During activity, athletes sweat in order to remove heat from their bodies. When athletes sweat, they lose both fluid and electrolytes (mainly sodium).

Thus, when focusing on rehydrating between workouts, it is important to consume both fluid and sodium.

Since dehydration can increase the risk of heat illnesses and negatively impact sports performance (1), it is essential for athletes to rehydrate between their two-a-day workout sessions.  

Replacing Fluid Lost in Sweat

To determine how much fluid to consume between workouts, athletes can weigh themselves before and after the workout. Each pound of weight loss during the workout reflects one pound of fluid lost in sweat.

To replace the fluid lost in sweat, athletes need to drink more fluid (125%-150% more) than the amount lost in sweat. For each pound of weight lost during the activity, athletes are encouraged to drink 20-24 oz of fluid (2). 

For example, if an athlete loses 2 pounds during the workout, the goal would be for the athlete to consume 40-48 oz (5-6 cups) of fluid before the next workout. Consuming this fluid will help ensure that the athlete starts the next workout session in a hydrated state.

Replacing Electrolytes Lost in Sweat

In addition to fluids, athletes also need to replace the sodium lost in sweat during the workout.

Consuming sodium in food and drinks can help athletes with replacing the sodium lost in sweat. In addition, the sodium will help stimulate thirst and also help the body to better retain the fluid consumed after exercise (1).

Ideas for foods and beverages containing sodium include:

  • Deli meat, cheese, bread
  • Cottage cheese
  • Broth-based soup
  • Pretzels, pita chips, snack crackers
  • Salted nuts and seeds
  • Beef or turkey jerky
  • Pickles, relish, capers, olives
  • Condiments: Ketchup, barbecue sauce, mustard, soy sauce, salad dressing
  • Vegetable juice, tomato sauce
  • Sports drinks

*Note: Athletes that have been advised to limit their fluid or sodium intake should visit with their doctor or a sports dietitian nutritionist about meeting their hydration needs.

Replace Electrolyte Losses - Consuming sodium in food and beverages can help athletes 
with replacing the sodium 
lost in sweat.

Carbohydrate-Rich Meals and Snacks Between Workouts

During activity, athletes deplete their carbohydrate stores (empty their gas tank). Thus, replacing these stores between workouts is important.

Carbohydrates should be at the foundation of the athlete’s post-workout meal. When building their post-workout meal, I encourage athletes to fill at least half of their plate with carbohydrates.

Athletes can add carbohydrates to their meal in a variety of ways, including:

  • Grains: Bread, bagels, wraps, cereal, oatmeal, rice, quinoa, pasta
  • Starchy vegetables: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, peas, beans
  • Fruit: Fresh, frozen, dried, canned in natural juices
  • Dairy: Milk, chocolate milk, yogurt

In addition to carbohydrates, athletes can round out their meal with a moderate amount of lean protein, as well as a variety of colorful vegetables.

Post-Workout Meal Ideas

  • Pancakes, fresh sliced strawberries, scrambled eggs, 100% fruit juice
  • Bagel with nut butter and honey, banana, low-fat milk
  • Fruit smoothie, English muffin breakfast sandwich with egg, ham, and cheese
  • Sub sandwich with turkey and ham, pretzels, grapes, sports drink
  • Grain bowl with salmon, brown rice, leafy greens, vegetables, hummus, pita bread, 100% fruit juice
  • Stir-fry with chicken, mixed vegetables, steamed rice, sports drink
  • Tuna sandwich on thick sliced bread, chicken noodle soup, fresh sliced fruit cup, low-fat milk

Refuel with a High-Carb Pre-Workout Snack

Similar to the morning workout, athletes can consider eating another high-carb snack in the hour before their second workout of the day.

Athletes can select any of the high-carb snacks discussed previously to enjoy prior to the second workout of the day.

I find many athletes like applesauce squeeze pouches, as a convenient pre-workout snack. Salty snacks, such as pretzels or pita chips, can be a good option as well.

What About Sports Drinks During Two-a-Day Workouts?

I commonly recommend that athletes choose to drink a sports drink during their two-a-day workouts. Consuming a sports drink can be particularly beneficial during the second workout of the day.

The carbohydrates in the sports drink will provide athletes with an additional source of energy during the practice. The sports drink will also help athletes replace both the fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat.

When athletes are competing in a hot and humid environment, a sports drink can be particularly beneficial in helping to replace fluid and electrolyte losses.

Two-a-Day Workouts: Rest and Refuel

Following the second workout of the day, it is time for athletes to focus on resting and refueling.

The three key areas for athletes to consider with regard to recovery nutrition include:

  • Fluid and Electrolytes: Rehydrate to replace fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat
  • Carbohydrates: Refill energy stores used during the activity
  • Protein: Build and repair muscles

Post-Workout Recovery Nutrition Snack Ideas

Athletes should plan ahead to have post-workout snacks available that can support their recovery nutrition needs.

Eating a snack following the workout is especially important if it will be several hours until their next meal.

Easy post-workout snack ideas include:

  • Low-fat chocolate milk and granola bars
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich with low-fat milk
  • Beef jerky, pretzels, banana, sports drink
  • Turkey and cheese wrap with sports drink
  • Granola bars, nut butter, high-protein milk
  • String cheese, sliced ham, crackers, grapes, water
  • Sports bar with sports drink
  • Post-workout smoothie
Post Workout Snacks for Two-A-Day Workouts- Athletes should plan ahead to have snacks available that can support their recovery nutrition needs.

Two-a-Day Workouts: Post-Workout Meals

Athletes should aim to follow-up their post-workout snack with a well-balanced meal within the next couple of hours.

In addition to carbohydrates and protein, I encourage athletes to include anti-inflammatory foods in their post-workout meal, such as:

  • Berries and cherries
  • Tart cherry juice
  • Leafy greens
  • Fatty fish
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Avocados
  • Olive oil
  • Herbs and spices

Post-Workout Meal Ideas

Putting this all together, example post-workout meals for athletes include:

  • Turkey sub sandwich, baked chips, fresh berries, tart cherry juice
  • Pasta with marinara sauce, sliced grilled chicken, mixed greens salad, breadsticks, fresh sliced melon, low-fat milk
  • Chicken or steak fajitas with wheat tortillas, grilled veggies, sliced avocado, Spanish rice, pinto beans, water
  • Grilled salmon, baked sweet potato, steamed broccoli, sliced melon, dinner rolls, tart cherry juice
  • Pork chop, brown rice, green beans, fresh sliced fruit cup, 100% fruit juice
  • Grilled chicken sandwich, Greek yogurt and mixed berries parfait, pretzels, sports drink

For additional easy meal suggestions, check out my blog on dinner ideas for athletes.

Two-a-Day Workouts: Importance of Rest for Athletes

The importance of athletes getting adequate quality sleep when participating in two-a-day workouts cannot be overstated.

Sleep is a critical component in an athlete’s training and recovery plan. Getting adequate sleep is important for supporting the athlete’s health as well as sports performance (3).

Sleep plays an important role in the recovery process. It is also important for optimal cognitive function, including reaction time and decision making (4, 5).

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends individuals get the following amount of sleep each night (67):

  • Youth 6-12 years old: 9-12 hours
  • Teenagers 13-18 years old: 8-10 hours
  • Adults: 7 hours or more
Importance of Sleep for Athletes During Two-A-Day Workouts - Getting adequate sleep is important for supporting an athlete’s health as well as 
sports performance.

Positive Sleep Habits for Athletes

It can be helpful for athletes to have ideas for positive sleep habits that can support them with getting adequate, quality sleep.

Ideas for positive sleep habits include (8):

  • Create a consistent sleep schedule, aim to go to bed and get up at the same time each day (including the weekends)
  • Make the bedroom cool, dark, and quite (like a cave)
  • Limit the use of electronics before bedtime
  • Develop a relaxing sleep routine, consider deep breathing, journaling, or mindfulness exercises

Nutrition for Two-A-Day Workouts

You are now set with nutrition strategies to support athletes with adequately fueling their bodies for two-a-day workouts. 

For additional sports nutrition tips, check out my blog on offseason nutrition plans for athletes.

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About the Author

Mandy Tyler is a Sports Dietitian Nutritionist in the San Antonio, TX area. She is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, a Licensed Athletic Trainer, and is a Certified Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine.  Mandy has experience working with athletes at the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. She believes the key to reaching one’s full potential, both in everyday life and in sports performance, relies on a healthy nutritional foundation. 

Sports Nutrition Game Day Guide EBook for Athletes

If you are looking to take your performance to the next level, make sure to check out my new Sports Nutrition Game Day Guide. This downloadable guide is written to help athletes develop an individualized plan to achieve peak performance on game day.

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