UC San Diego Athletic Performance Nutrition Guide

Food to GRAB on the GO!



Whether you are rushing around or looking for something quick to snack on in between games or during competition (pack in a cooler), here are some easy and quick snacks to replenish you:


·       Turkey Sandwiches (make the night before)

·       Fruits: Grapes, Apples, Bananas, Oranges, Pears

·       Dried Fruits

·       Fig Newtons

·       Trail mix

·       Sports bars and sports beverages

·       Half bagel and peanut butter



Good Carbohydrate Food Choices When Dining on the Road:


  • Blueberry pancakes, waffles, or French toast with syrup and request butter on the side.
  • Opt for cooked or dry cereal with low-fat milk and sliced bananas, strawberries or blueberries.
  • Have a large glass of juice.
  • Choose English muffins, wheat toast, or whole grain bagels with jelly instead of the high-fat choices of butter, biscuits, croissants, pastries and doughnuts.
  • Order a vegetable egg omelet with one whole egg and two egg whites.
  • Order a sandwich with turkey or chicken instead of high-fat meats like bologna or salami.
  • Look for salads with grilled chicken, three bean salads, or baked potatoes. 
  • Order sub sandwiches loaded with vegetables.
  • For dinner start with soups like vegetable, chicken and rice, minestrone and split pea.  For salad choose house salads with limited cheese, bacon bits, and dressing on the side.  Choose unbuttered rolls and lean meat that is grilled, broiled, baked or blackened.



Top Ten Quick Power Foods




  1. Pizza: Stray from the fatty toppings (sausage, pepperoni, etc.) and opt for a low-fat cheese. What you have is a nice carbohydrate and protein pie. Toss on a few healthier toppings like peppers and onions for additional vitamins and minerals.
  2. Oatmeal: Pour it into a bowl. Add some hot water. What you have is one of the best sources for carbohydrates, a quick burst of energy that will propel you through your training session. Oatmeal is great with vitamin-rich blueberries and strawberries.
  3. Pasta: Packed with 50 grams of carbohydrates per cup, pasta, mixed in with a little tomato sauce, is not only a tasty choice, but it is rich in muscle-building proteins as well.
  4. Peanuts: Anything associated with butter – as peanuts surely are – usually leads to one dreaded three-letter word: fat. Although peanuts are plenty fattening indeed, they’re also planters of a number of rich nutrients like potassium, zinc, and vitamin E.
  5. Yogurt: It’s sweet. It’s smooth. It’s sensational. Yogurt is not only a soothing refreshment for athletes, it also blends a healthy balance of proteins and carbohydrates. Highly recommended is the low-fat version.
  6. Potatoes: Potatoes are perhaps the best source of carbs you’ll find, packing some 30 grams inside of your average 4-ounce potato.
  7. Eggs: How do you like them? It doesn’t really matter because any way you flip them, boil them, fry them, or scramble them, the truth is that they’re loaded with protein. However, try to spare yourself of the egg’s yolk, for it is packed with fat and cholesterol.
  8. Protein Drinks: This is a no-brainer. Why else would they have a juice bar at nearly every health club throughout America? The ideal protein drink, if you can blend it with a carbohydrate-rich powder, will consist of 25% protein and 60% carbs.
  9. Chicken Breasts: Chicken, in all forms, is loaded with protein, approximately 35 grams for a 4-ounce breast, However, we obviously recommend them grilled or baked as opposed to the fried version. And remember to peel off that fattening skin.
  10. Water: Drink it by the gallon. Actually, about a gallon a day – or perhaps eight glasses – is ideal, since your body cannot function without it. However, too much water may be detrimental to your fitness quest for it could be flushing out minerals and vitamins that you need.


If there were an all-star foods team these foods would be on it.  Here’s why:



The perfect portable snack. They're one of the richest sources of potassium, which may help regulate blood pressure, and are good sources of fiber. Frozen banana chunks make a terrific guilt-free snack. Bananas are also a natural antacid and help keep your muscles from cramping.

1 banana = 105 calories, 0.5 g. fat, 27 g carbohydrate, 1.2 g protein, 1 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, 2.2 g fiber, 451 mg potassium.


Truly lean beef is a great source of zinc, high-quality protein and iron. Choose lean cuts such as shank, round, flank, and chuck and trim all excess fat before cooking. Broil or bake meat on a rack, so meat doesn't cook in its fat.

3-oz. lean round steak = 163 calories, 5 g fat, 0 g carbohydrate, 27 g protein, 56 mg sodium, 69 mg cholesterol, 0 g fiber, 13% RDA for iron, 32$ for zinc, 41% for vitamin B12.


An excellent source of fiber (important for keeping blood sugar and cholesterol levels under control). In fact, beans provide even more soluble fiber than oats. They're high in protein and a good source of folic acid, a B vitamin important for building protein and red blood cells.

1/2 cup serving = 112 calories, 0.4 g fat, 21 g carbohydrate, 7.5 g protein, 1 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, 7.7 g fiber, 304 mg potassium, 11% RDA for folic acid.


A wonder food! - one of the best nutritional bets around. Not only is broccoli high in fiber and vitamin C, it provides folic acid, calcium, magnesium and iron.

1 cup, cooked = 46 calories, 0.4 g fat, 9 g carbohydrate, 5 g protein,, 16 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, 4.8 g fiber, 164% RDA for vitamin C, 42% RDA for vitamin A, 17% for calcium, 24% for folic acid.

Brown Rice

A good source of complex carbohydrates that provides twice as much fiber as white rice. Moreover, it beats white rice for almost every nutrient, including zinc, magnesium, protein, vitamin B6 and selenium.

1/2 cup serving = 116 calories, 0.6 g fat, 25 g carbohydrate, 2.5 g protein, 0 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, 0.6 g fiber

Carrot Juice

Probably the most concentrated source of beta-carotene, which, in addition to its possible role as a cancer fighter, may play a key role in preventing the formation of cataracts later in life. Beta-carotene, a source of Vitamin A, also may boost your immune system's ability to fight bacterial and viral infections.

1/2 cup serving = 49 calories, 0.2 g fat, 11 g carbohydrate, 1 g protein, 36 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, 1.2 g fiber, about 33% RDA for vitamin A.

Low Fat or Fat Free Cheeses

Great sources of calcium, but read nutritional labels carefully: Some of these cheeses aren't much lower in fat than their regular counterparts, and they can be high in sodium. Choose one that contains 5 grams or less fat per ounce.

1 -oz serving Alpine Lace = 85 calories, 5 g fat, 7 g protein, 85 mg sodium, 20 mg cholesterol, 35% RDA for calcium.


Three ounces of skinless chicken breast has only 3 grams of fat and contains vitamin B6, a nutrient important for metabolizing protein. Dark meat has more fat than white, but also more B vitamins, iron, zinc, and other nutrients. Unlike popular belief, skin fat does not "migrate" into the meat, so cook the chicken with the skin on and remove after cooking. This keeps the chicken moist.

3-oz. Breast, no skin, roasted = 140 calories, 2.9 g fat, 0 g carbohydrates, 26 g protein, 62 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 58% RDA for niacin, 25 % for vitamin B6.


An often-overlooked source of fiber and carbohydrate. Sure, fresh corn tastes best, but frozen or canned alternatives are convenient ways to get additional fiber in your diet. Corn also has almost no fat.

1/2 cup serving = 67 calories, 0.6 g fat, 17 g carbohydrate, 2.5 g protein, 4 mg sodium, 1.6 g fiber, 17 micrograms folic acid.

Dried Fruit

Because most of the water has been removed, dried fruits are terrific concentrated sources of energy and good sources of iron - a mineral that helps prevent anemia. High in fructose, they also can be intensely sweet, making them great desserts or snacks - and they're fat free.

3-oz serving = 203 calories, 0.4 g fat, 53 g carbohydrate, 3.1 g protein, 8.5 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, 6.8 g fiber, 22% RDA for iron, 123% RDA for vitamin A.

Fig Bars

A favorite among cyclists and runners because they pack a strong carbohydrate punch and are easy to eat during exercise. Much lower in fat than most treats, fig bars also supply a bit of fiber - not a lot, but more than most sweets.

2 bars = 106 calories, 1.9 g fat, 21 g carbohydrate, 1 g protein, 90 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, 5 g fiber.


Once thought to provide few significant nutrients, now researchers find that grapes are a good source of boron, a mineral believed to be important in building and maintaining healthy bones.

1/2 cup serving = 29 calories, 0.2 g fat, 1 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, 0.3 g fiber.


The odd little fruit in the fuzzy brown wrapper proves that good things can come in small, ugly packages. Each kiwi provides 75 mg of vitamin C and 1.7 grams of fiber.

1 kiwi = 46 calories, 0.3 g fat, 11 g carbohydrate, 0.8 g protein, 4 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, 1.7 g fiber, 124% RDA for vitamin C.


Good sources of protein and complex carbohydrates, lentils also deliver a good amount of iron, particularly if you're limiting your intake of red meat. Lentils are easier to prepare than other legumes because you don't have to soak them overnight before cooking. Great on their own, in soups or as an addition to ground meat.

1/2 cup serving = 105 calories, 0 g fat, 20 g carbohydrate, 8 g protein, 30 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, 5.2 g fiber, 12 % RDA for iron, 7% for zinc, 9% for folic acid.

Skim Milk

Skim milk is an excellent low-fat source of calcium and vitamin D - both important for maintaining healthy bones. Research suggests that you have less risk of developing colon cancer with high blood levels of vitamin D than with low levels. But don't turn to supplements for vitamin D: large amounts can be toxic.

8 oz. = 80 calories, 0.4 g fat, 11 g carbohydrate, 8 g protein, 4 mg. cholesterol, 117 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 24% RDA for vitamin D, 28% for calcium.


A good source of soluble fiber, and then some: In a research study, adding 2 ounces a day of oatmeal to a low-fat diet significantly lowered subjects' blood cholesterol in about four weeks.

1/2 cup serving = 73 calories, 1.2 g fat, 13 g carbohydrate, 3 g protein, 1 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, 2.7 g fiber.

Orange Juice

Besides being an excellent source of vitamin C, one 6-ounce glass provides nearly as much potassium as a banana and about 23 percent of the RDA for the sometimes-hard-to-find B vitamin folic acid.

6 oz. = 76 calories, 0.3 g fat, 15 g carbohydrate, 1 g protein, 1 mg sodium, 0.1 g fiber, 340 mg potassium, 142% RDA for vitamin C, 23% RDA for folic acid.


Papaya is a treasure trove of nutrients. One-half of this exotic fruit provides almost as much potassium as a banana and more than 100% of the RDA for vitamin C. It's also a good source of cancer-fighting beta-carotene.

1/2 papaya = 59 calories, 0.2 g fat, 15 g carbohydrate, 1 g protein, 4 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, 12.2 g fiber, 395 mg potassium, 158% RDA for vitamin C, about 62% RDA for vitamin A.


Pasta is loaded with complex carbohydrates for long-lasting energy, whether you're an athlete or a couch potato. Enriched pasta also provides iron and the important B vitamins thiamine, niacin and riboflavin.

1/2 cup serving = 77 calories, 0.3 g fat, 28 g carbohydrate, 5.3 g protein, 0 mg cholesterol, 1 mg sodium, 35% RDA for thiamine, 15% RDA for riboflavin, 15% RDA for niacin, 10% RDA for iron.


The potato is probably one of the most underrated foods. Besides being a powerhouse of complex carbohydrates, a 6-ouncer also provides almost twice as much potassium as a banana, just over one-third of the RDA for vitamin C and 66 percent of the RDA for iron. It's also a good source of copper, which most people tend to be short on.

6-oz, baked, with skin = 337 calories, 0.2 g fat, 78 g carbohydrate, 7 g protein, 35 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, 4 g fiber, 974 g potassium, 38% RDA for vitamin C, 66% RDA for iron, 70% RDA for copper, 56% RDA for vitamin B6.


Salmon is one of the richest sources for omega-3 fatty acids, which may provide some protection against heart disease. Eating salmon or other ocean fish like mackerel, herring or tuna twice a week may be enough for you to reap the health benefits. Fish oil may also fight arthritis, alleviate psoriasis and reduce high blood pressure. Salmon is also an excellent source of selenium, which may play a role in cancer prevention.

3 oz. cooked = 45 calories, 0.6 g fat, 0 g carbohydrate, 0 g fiber, 40 micrograms selenium, 42% RDA for niacin, 35% RDA for calcium. Most types of salmon provide about 1 g omega-3 fatty acids.


Sweet, delicious strawberries are excellent sources of vitamin C and fiber. They also contain ellagic acid and beta carotene, which may prove important in cancer prevention.

1-cup serving = 45 calories, 0.6 g fat, 11 g carbohydrate, 1 g protein, 2 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, 2.2 g fiber, 141% RDA for vitamin C.


The most critical nutrient in your body, it's needed for just about everything that happens, and you lose it fast: at least 2 cups daily just exhaling; 10 cups through normal waste and body cooling: 1 to 2 quarts per hour running, biking or working out. Eight glasses a day is enough for sedentary people, but if your physically active, you need more. Drink 8 to 20 ounces of water about 15 minutes before working out. If you run, drink at least 2 cups of water for every pound you lose on your course.

Whole-Grain Cereals

Besides providing lots of complex carbohydrates, they're a great way to get fiber in your diet - a prevention measure that the National Cancer Society strongly recommends. What's more, research suggest that eating a high-fiber cereal at breakfast may curb your appetite at lunch. Read the labels: a cereal should contain at least 5 grams of fiber and no more than 1 or 2 grams of fat per serving.

Fat Free Yogurt

Among the few truly excellent sources of calcium - 452 mg per 8-ounce carton - and riboflavin, yogurt's also a strong source of vitamin B12. Use it to reduce fat in your diet: substitute it for sour cream in casseroles or sauces: mix with herbs for vegetable dip; blend with fruit for a thick drink; stir into soups to make them creamy. Frozen, it's an excellent substitute for ice cream. To cut calories in half in flavored yogurts, choose brands artificially sweetened with NutraSweet.

8-oz serving, plain = 127 calories, 0.4 g fat, 17 g carbohydrate, 13 g protein, 174 mg sodium, 4 mg cholesterol, 0 g fiber 45% RDA for calcium, 31% for riboflavin, 23% RDA for vitamin B12.


Information supplied by: 


UC San Diego Intercollegiate Athletics


Megan Mangano, UNH B.S. in Nutritional Sciences


Clark, Nancy, MS, RD.  Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook, 2nd Edition.  1997.  Brookline, MA:  Nancy Clark.


Rosenbloom, Christine A., PhD, RD, Editor.  ADA: Sports Nutrition: A Guide for the Professional Working with Active People, 3rd Edition.  2000.  Chicago, Illinois: The American Dietetic Association.