Entries in Diet (4)


Flight Nutrition Guidelines

Gary Slater/ Michelle Cort Sports Dietitians Australian Institute of Sport

Website: Australian Rowing website

Nutrition and Hydration Strategies for Long Haul Flights

To reduce the interference that long haul flights can have on performance the first few days after arrival, it is important to ensure you have appropriate nutrition and hydration strategies in place before, during and immediately after the flight.

Meals and Snacks:

• In addition to adjusting your sleep patterns to coincide with those of your destination in the days prior to departure, try to adopt the meal pattern you will have at your destination. This will help reduce jet lag and adjust your body clock.
• Rowers with reduced energy needs (e.g. those attempting to make weight or on ‘low energy budgets’) may not need all the meals and snacks provided during flights. Drinking low energy fluids (water, tea, diet soft drinks) and chewing sugar free gum can decrease the temptation to snack excessively during flights. Alternatively pack your own lower energy snacks like fresh fruit and decline some of the high energy/ high fat in-flight snacks.
• Rowers with high fuel needs should pack extra snacks to supplement the food provided in-flight to ensure weight loss and a decrease in fuel stores does not occur. Good snack choices include cereal bars, sports bars, powdered liquid meal supplements (plus a shaker), plus dried fruit and nut mixes.

Hydration Strategies:

• The risk of becoming dehydrated on long flights is increased as the pressurised cabin and air-conditioned environment increases fluid losses from the skin and lungs. The small fluid serve sizes available on flights are usually insufficient to maintain hydration.
• Purchase extra fluids after clearing security to add to your carry on luggage.
• Aim for approximately 1 cup per hour to maintain hydration.
• Suitable choices include: water, sports drink, juice, soft drink, tea and coffee.
• Sodium assists in decreasing urine losses (and thus promoting improved hydration). Sports drinks contain a small amount of sodium that can be useful. Other electrolyte rich solutions (e.g. Gastrolyte in water or Gatorlytes added a sports drink) can also be valuable, especially for those who struggle to remain well hydrated.
• Once at your destination rapid re-hydration should be a priority. Continue to drink regularly. Adding Gastrolyte to water (10 tablets or 5 sachets in 1L of water) on arrival can help promote faster re-hydration.

New Rules for International Flights:

To enhance flight safety the federal government has enforced new rules about taking liquids, aerosols and gels on flights into and out of Australia. In brief, each container of liquid, aerosols or gels in carry-on luggage AT THE SECURITY SCREENING POINT (but not when you board the plane) must be less than 100 ml.

By following the guidelines below, this should have no impact on your in-flight hydration strategies.

• Carry an empty drink bottle through the security screening point, filling your drink bottle up at a bubbler on the other side of the screening point.
• Purchase drinks (including water, sports drinks, juices, etc) at shops on transit to your departure gate.
• Include powdered sports drinks, powdered liquid meal supplements (e.g. Power Bar Protein Plus, Sustagen Sport) and perhaps sachets/tablets of oral rehydration salts (Gastrolyte, Gatorlytes) in your carry on luggage that can be made up (on water) in your drink bottle or shaker for the flight.

For more information on these new travel regulations, check out the Australian Government Department of

Transport and Regional Services information sheet at: 

Australia - page 2.

Great Britain and Europe



Nutrition Strategies for Rowing

Written by the Department of Sports Nutrition, AIS 2006
Australian Sports Commission 2006

For a print copy: Nutrition Strategies for Rowing

Training Nutrition:

Rowing requires a unique mix of technique, power and endurance, utilising both the anaerobic and aerobic energy systems. Rowers have very high energy and carbohydrate requirements to support training loads and meet body weight and strength goals.

Some rowers (particularly male heavyweights) struggle with the shear volume of food they need to consume to meet their training demands. Frequent snacks and the use of compact, energy dense food or drinks such as juice, flavoured milk, jam, honey, sports bars and liquid meals are necessary to keep the volume of food manageable.

Nutrition recovery strategies between sessions are extremely important and the rower must have a planned approach to their training nutrition.

Carbohydrate: How much?

Carbohydrate is a critical fuel source for the muscle and central nervous system. Carbohydrate intake before, during and after exercise can be required to meet the fuel requirements of the activity.

A rower can calculate a carbohydrate target in grams, and use food tables or information on food labels to plan to meet this goal. Even better, a rower can see a Sports Dietitian for advice to further narrow this target range according to his/her specific situation, and have an individualised meal plan fitted to their needs.


Recommended Carbohydrate Intake

Daily refuelling needs for training programs less than 60-90mins per day or low intensity exercise

Daily intake of 5-7g per kg body mass.

Daily refuelling for training programs greater than 90-120 min per day

Daily intake of 7-10g per kg body mass.

Daily refuelling for athletes undertaking extreme exercise program: 6-8 hours per day

Daily intake of 10-12+ g per kg body mass.

Pre-event meal

Meal eaten 1-4 hrs pre-competition 1-4g per kg body mass.

Carbohydrate intake during training sessions and competition events greater than 1 hour

1g per minute, or 60g per hour

Rapid Recovery after training session or multi event competition, especially when there is less than 8 hrs until the next session

Intake of 1g per kg body mass in the first 30 min after exercise, repeated every 1-2 hrs until regular meal patterns are resumed


A chart that provides information about the carbohydrate content of common foods can be viewed on (www.ais.org.au/nutrition). You can use this information to plan a daily menu, or specific pre-competition meals and post exercise snacks and meals.


Rowers in heavy training require extra protein to cover a small proportion of their energy costs of their training and to assist in the repair and recovery process after exercise. Adolescent rower’s who are still growing, have additional protein requirements.

Protein Requirements can be summarised as follows:


Grams protein per kg body mass per day

Light training program


Moderate to heavy training


Adolescent Rowers



Which foods are the best to provide protein?

The following table indicates the protein content of many foods. Each of the foods provides approximately 10g of protein.

Animal Foods

Plant Foods

2 small eggs

30g (1.5 slices) reduced fat cheese

70g cottage cheese

1 cup (250ml) low fat milk

35g lean beef, lamb or pork (cooked weight)

40g chicken (cooked weight)

50g grilled fish

50g canned tuna or salmon

200g reduced fat yoghurt

150g light fromage frais

4 slices (120g) bread

3 cups (90g) wholegrain cereal

2 cups (330g) cooked pasta

3 cups (400g) cooked rice

¾ cup (150g) lentils or kidney beans

200g baked beans

120g tofu

400ml soy beverage

60g nuts or seeds

1 cup (250ml) soy milk

100g soy ‘meat’


Are high protein low carbohydrate diets appropriate for Rowers?

In the short term high protein, low carbohydrate diets result in loss of water and glycogen. This might result in a decrease on the scales, but does nothing to reduce body fat. In the long term high protein, low carbohydrate diets may result in fat loss. The effect is primarily due to the fact that these diets are low in kilojoules rather than any magical effect from the protein itself. The lack of carbohydrate reduces energy levels, impairs performance and causes lethargy and nausea. High protein, low carbohydrate diets restrict the intake of many nutrients in the diet. These diets will result in muscle mass decrease. High protein, low carbohydrate diets are not suitable for athletes.

Weight Loss:

In lightweight rowing the need to maintain low levels of body fat is important. Rowers needing to reduce skinfolds must target excess kilojoules in their diet. In particular, excess fat, alcohol and sugary foods should be targeted and replaced with more nutrient dense choices (see the AIS Sports Nutrition Fact Sheet: “Weight Loss” www.ais.org/nutrition for more detailed information)

Muscle Mass Gain:

Specific information relating to nutrition strategies for lean muscle mass gain can be found in the AIS Sports Nutrition Fact Sheet: “How to Grow Muscles” (www.ais.org.au/nutrition).

Pre Exercise Nutrition:

Depletion of carbohydrate stores is a major cause of fatigue during exercise.

Eating Before Early Morning Sessions:

After an overnight fast (sleeping) liver glycogen (energy) stores are substantially depleted. Therefore, pre training carbohydrate intake is important for maintaining blood glucose levels towards the end of prolonged training sessions.

Example: some fruit and a cereal bar on the way to training along with some fluid such as a sports drink would be a good choice. If tolerating solid food before training is difficult a liquid meal alternative such as Protein Plus drink or a smoothie or even a glass of juice can be useful in providing essential carbohydrate.

Making up for the smaller carbohydrate intake before exercise by consuming carbohydrate during the training session (eg: sports drink) is an important strategy. The rower should experiment to find a routine that works and is comfortable for them.

Other Exercise Sessions:

Food eaten before training should contain carbohydrate. It should also be low in fat and fibre to aid in digestion and reduce the risk of gastrointestinal discomfort or upsets.  Fluid needs should also be considered.

Further detailed information on pre exercise eating can be accessed on www.ais.org.au/nutrition in the AIS “Eating Before Exercise” fact sheet.

Recovery Nutrition Strategies:

Recovery is a challenge for rowers who are undertaking two or more sessions each day, training for long periods, or competing in a program that involves multiple races. Between each workout the body has to adapt to the physiological stress. In training, with correct planning of the workload and the recovery time, adaptation allows the body to become fitter, stronger and faster. In competition however, there may be less control over the work to recovery ratio.

Nutrition recovery strategies encompass a complex range of processes that include:
• restoring the muscles and liver with expended fuel (glycogen)
• replacing the fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat
• allowing the immune system to handle the damage and challenges caused by the exercise bout.
• Manufacturing new muscle protein, red blood cells and other cellular components as part of repair and adaptation processes

The importance of each of these goals varies according to the workout. A pro-active recovery means providing the body with all the nutrients it needs, in a speedy and practical manner, to optimise the desired processes following each session.

To kick start the refuelling process an intake of at least 1g/kg of carbohydrate (50-100g) for most athletes is needed. Athletes should consume this carbohydrate -in their next meal or snack- as soon as possible after a heavy session to prepare for the next.

Most athletes finish a training or competition session with some level of fluid deficit. Comparing pre and post exercise measurements of  body weight can provide an approximation of the overall fluid deficit. Athletes may need to replace 150% of the fluid deficit to get back to baseline.

Immune System:
The immune system is suppressed by intensive training. This may place athletes at risk of succumbing to an infectious illness during this time. Consuming carbohydrate during and/or after a prolonged or high intensity work out has been shown to reduce the disturbance to immune system markers.

Muscle Repair and Building:
Prolonged and high intensity exercise causes a substantial breakdown of muscle protein. During the recovery phase there is a reduction in catabolic (breakdown) processes and a gradual increase in anabolic (building processes). Early intake of good quality protein foods helps to promote the increase in protein rebuilding. Protein consumed immediately after the session (or in the case of resistance training sessions, immediately before the session), is taken up more effectively by the muscle into rebuilding processes, than protein consumed in the hours afterwards.

However the protein needs to be consumed with carbohydrate foods to maximise this effect. Carbohydrate intake stimulates an insulin response, which potentiates the increase in protein uptake and rebuilding.

Nutritious Carbohydrate – Protein Recovery Snacks (contain 50g carbohydrate + valuable source of protein):

- 250-300ml liquid meal supplement (eg: Protein Plus Drink)
- 250-300ml milkshake or fruit smoothie
- 1-2 sports bars (check labels for carbohydrate and protein content)
- 1 large bowl (2 cups) breakfast cereal with milk
- 1 large or 2 small cereal bars + 200g fruit flavoured yoghurt
- 1 bread roll with cheese/meat filling + banana
- 300g (bowl) fruit salad with 200g fruit flavoured yoghurt
- 2 x crumpets with peanut butter and 200ml falvoured milk

Hydration Strategies:

Drinking regularly during exercise, athletes can prevent the negative effects associated with dehydration and performance can be improved. Every rower should make fluid replacement a key priority during training and competition. Long training sessions on the water lead to significant sweat losses.

The table below shows sweat losses and fluid intakes recorded on AIS rowers in different environmental conditions. Despite having drink bottles available, athletes failed to consume enough fluid to keep up with their sweat losses, particularly in hot weather. Note however, that even in cold weather considerable sweat losses were seen.



Sweat losses men

(ml/hr) (range)

Fluid intake men

(mlhr) (range)

Sweat losses women (ml/hr) (range)

Fluid intake, women (mlhr) (range)


Hot conditions 320C










Cool conditions 100C





780 (360-1550)




Dehydration impairs the body’s ability to regulate heat resulting in increased body temperature and an elevated heart rate. Associated negative effects include: increased perceived exertion, reduced mental function (decreased motor control, decision making and concentration). Gastric emptying is also slowed, resulting in stomach discomfort. All of these effects lead to an impairment in exercise performance. The negative effects of dehydration on performance are exacerbated further in hot conditions.

Fluid requirements vary markedly between rowers and in different exercise sessions. It is impossible to prescribe a general fluid replacement plan that will meet the needs of all rowers. Rowers can estimate their own fluid requirements by weighing themselves pre and post exercise sessions. Each kilogram lost is approximately equivalent to 1 litre of fluid. Once a rower’s individual sweat losses are known, a plan can be prepared to help him/her to achieve better fluid replacement in following exercise sessions.

Where possible it is better to begin drinking early in exercise and adopt a pattern of drinking small volumes regularly rather than trying to tolerate larger volumes in one hit.

What to Drink?
Research shows that fluid intake is enhanced when beverages are cool (~ 150C), flavoured and contain sodium. This makes sports drinks an ideal choice during exercise. In addition to replacing fluid and electrolytes lost through sweat, sports drink also contains carbohydrate which allows re-fuelling to take place during exercise.

Water is still a suitable option during exercise. However water drinkers need to be aware that water does not stimulate fluid intake to the same extent as sports drinks. Drinking to a plan is therefore crucial when drinking water. Don’t rely on thirst.

Cordial, soft drinks and juice generally contain greater than 10% carbohydrate and are low in sodium. This can slow gastric emptying and makes these drinks a less suitable choice, especially for high intensity activity.

Other Useful Hydration Strategies:

• Drink with all meals and snacks. Consume 300-400ml of fluid in the hour before training commences to ensure you begin each session hydrated.
• Take sufficient drink bottles to training. Keep some in the coaches boat for top ups.
• Take a few seconds every 15-20mins or between pieces for a drink break. Alternatively, try using a drink container like a hydration-pack, which is worn on the back, to avoid having to take your hands off the oar to drink.
• Re-hydrate fully after the session.
• Sports drinks are the recommended fluid choice during rowing.
• Lightweight rowers should not consider a lower weight at the end of a workout to be a good sign. Even though dehydration is an inevitable part of making weight for competition, it is counterproductive and unnecessary in the training setting.

Competition Nutrition:

Rowers should go into each race with fluid and fuel stores topped up, and feeling comfortable after their last meal. With the regatta or competition lasting a number of days, the challenge is to recover between each day’s sessions and to prepare for the next race (see Recovery Nutrition Strategies section above).

Generally a meal that provides carbohydrate should be consumed 2-3 hours before a race, eg: breakfast cereal, toast, muffins, sandwiches, yoghurt, fruit, pasta and creamed rice. Some rowers need to take special care with pre race eating, as it can be very uncomfortable to race with a full stomach. Low bulk choices such as liquid meals and sports bars can be useful in these situations.

Rowers need to organise themselves to have appropriate food and fluids available at all times during competition. Many athletes find that they easily lose weight over the course of a competition due to being unable to consume their usual high energy diet (as they are spending much of the day in preparation and the race itself) To help avoid this from happening take along a supply of cereal bars, liquid meal supplements sports bars, fruit bars, dried fruit, sandwiches, yoghurt, juice etc…

Be aware of your fluid needs (see Hydration Strategies section above). You can be dehydrated from your rowing efforts, making weight practices or just from sitting in the sum watching competition.


While a lot of sports foods and supplements do not live up to their emotive claims, some of these products are valuable in helping an athlete achieve their nutritional goals and optimal performance. State of the art information on Sports Foods and Supplements can be found in the AIS Sports Supplement Program information and the AIS “Supplements in Sport – Why are they so tempting?” fact sheet, which are both located at: www.ais.org.au/nutrition.

Some sports foods and dietary supplements play a role in providing a practical alternative to food (eg: sports drinks, sports gels, sports bars, and liquid meal supplements). Rowers may find these products valuable in helping them achieve their nutrition goals in a busy day or during an exercise session. They are an alternative to every day foods, which might need to be combined and juggled to produce the same nutritional composition, or which might be too impractical to consume directly before or during intense exercise. Sometimes the convenience factor is the selling point.

Some rowers however use these products outside the conditions in which they are likely to achieve a direct sport nutrition goal (eg: eating sports bars as a snack). In these situations sports foods may simply be a more expensive version of food. Over-consumption of any sports foods can lead to dietary imbalances as well as being an unnecessary burden on the wallet. Specific sports nutrition advice from a Sports Dietitian will make the rower aware of the best uses of these special sports foods.

Sports Dietitians:

While this information provides a good general overview to sports nutrition for rowing, a more individualised nutrition plan will help to maximise your rowing performance. Your State Institute or Academy will have the expertise to help you. Additionally Sports Dietitians Australia (http://www.sportsdietitians.com.au/) has a list of accredited Sports Dietitians throughout Australia that can provide you with this service.




A Lightweight Rower's Diet

By: Patrick Dale.
From: Live Strong: Lance Armstrong Foundation.

Overview: A lightweight Rower's Diet

Rowing is a relatively old sport whose governing body, the International Rowing Federation, was formed in 1892. Rowers compete individually or in crews of two, four or eight and are categorized by weight: Lightweight men must weigh less than 72.5 kg or 160 lbs. while lightweight women must weigh less than 59 kg or 130 lbs. Rowers weighing more than these figures are classed as heavyweights. Lightweight rowers must be careful not to gain too much weight otherwise they will find themselves ineligible for lightweight competition. For this reason, diet is especially important for lightweight rowers.

About Rowing

Rowing is a demanding whole-body sport that requires strength, power and fitness. The legs, back and arms are especially important in rowing. Rowing with one oar is called sweep rowing while using two oars is called sculling. Both types of rowing require very high levels of fitness. Training for rowing is vigorous and includes not just rowing but also weight training, circuit training and running or cycling. According to "The Sports Book" by Ray Stubbs, rowers consume an average of 6,000 calories per day to fuel their training, but this very much depends on the size of the rower and amount of training being performed. 

About Rowing

Rowing is a demanding whole-body sport that requires strength, power and fitness. The legs, back and arms are especially important in rowing. Rowing with one oar is called sweep rowing while using two oars is called sculling. Both types of rowing require very high levels of fitness. Training for rowing is vigorous and includes not just rowing but also weight training, circuit training and running or cycling. According to "The Sports Book" by Ray Stubbs, rowers consume an average of 6,000 calories per day to fuel their training, but this very much depends on the size of the rower and amount of training being performed.

Fueling Workouts

The primary fuel in rowing workouts is carbohydrate. Carbohydrate from foods such as bread, rice, pasta, fruit and vegetables is broken down and converted to glucose to provide energy for muscular contractions. Hard-training rowers should ensure they consume enough carbohydrates to fuel their rigorous workouts. Sports nutritionist and author Anita Bean recommends that hard-training rowers should consume 8 to 10 g of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight. Carbohydrates also provide plenty of vitamins, minerals and fiber, so rowers should try to eat wholesome sources of carbohydrates while limiting the consumption of refined foods and sugars. 

Muscle Repair

Rowing and rowing training cause muscle damage at a cellular level. With adequate rest and good nutrition, muscles repair themselves and get stronger. The primary nutrient required for post exercise muscle repair is protein. Rowers should consume around 1.2 to 1.6 g of protein per kilogram of body weight to ensure they have adequate protein to repair their muscles after intense exercise. Good protein foods include beef, pork, chicken, turkey, fish and eggs. Protein consumption should be spread evenly throughout the day to ensure muscles receive a regular supply of protein-derived amino acids.


Although fats are very calorie dense, they are also important for health. Fats are essential for the transportation and utilization of vitamins and minerals, are anti-inflammatory and a useful source of energy. Because fat provides a lot of calories, lightweight rowers should be careful not to consume too much fat in order to avoid gaining weight. Most experts agree that around 30 percent of calories should be derived from fat and split evenly among saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat.

Weight Management

Unlike heavyweight rowers who have no upper weight limit, lightweight rowers much avoid getting too heavy - especially as the competitive season approaches. To maintain your body weight, your calorie intake must equal your calorie expenditure. If you are over your correct rowing weight, you should endeavor to start your weight-loss diet in plenty of time before the season to avoid having to crash diet which may affect your rowing training due to reduced energy levels. By setting the goal of 1 lb. per week, you can estimate how long it will take you to get to your correct competitive weight. To lose 1 lb. a week, you need to reduce your calorie intake by around 500 calories a day.


"The Sports Book"; Ray Stubbs; 2009

"The Complete Guide to Sports Nutrition"; Anita Bean; 2009 

"Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook"; Nancy Clark; 2008


Fuelling Rowers

By: Jennifer Doane.
From: American Dietetic Association. Copyright ©2006: This handout may be duplicated.
PDF Link: Fuelling Rowers

Fuelling Your Sport

• The number of calories needed by rowers depends on the intensity of training. Recreational rowers need fewer calories than competitive rowers.

• When training is very intense and lasts a long time, rowers can need 20.5 to 21.5 calories per pound of body weight per day (45 to 47 calories/kg/day). Male heavyweight rowers may need more than 6,000 calories per day, and female heavyweight rowers need at least 3,000 calories each day.

• When rowers improve their stroke, they don’t use as much energy. Therefore, they may need to eat fewer calories than they did when they were beginners.

• Carbohydrate is the most important fuel for rowers, but some rowers don’t get enough. You need 2.3 to 3.2 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight per day (5 to 7 g/kg/day) during training and competition. During training, you should aim for the higher end of the range (3.2 grams/pound/day). Good sources of carbohydrate include whole grain breads and cereals, fruits, and vegetables.

• Rowers need 0.55 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day (1.2 to 1.7 g/kg/day). You need the most protein during the early phases of training. Good sources of protein include fish, chicken, turkey, beef, low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs, nuts, and soy.

• Eat about 0.45 grams of fat per pound of body weight per day (1 g/kg/day). Choose heart-healthy fats, such as canola oil, olive oil, and nuts.

Fluid Needs

• When you compete in a weight class, you may think about using dehydration practices to make weight at the last minute. However, practices such as working out in a rubber suit in a sauna, limiting fluids, vomiting, and taking diuretics are very dangerous. They can lead to serious health problems or diminish your performance.

• Try to make weight well before the start of the competitive season. To get to a competitive weight, focus on eating less, not fluid restriction.

• Two hours before every workout and competition, drink 2 cups of fluids.

• Drink about 3 cups of fluid for each pound lost during training or competition.

• One way to know if you are drinking enough is to monitor your urine colour. Urine will have a pale, straw colour when you are hydrated.

• Use sport drinks to get fluids, carbohydrates, and electrolytes that your body loses when you’re active.

Supplements Commonly Used by Rowers

• Creatine may increase performance in 1,000-meter rowing events.

• Creatine supplementation may also help you recover more quickly from weight training sessions, which could help you train harder.

• Creatine monohydrate powder is a common type of creatine supplement. The recommended dose is 3 to 5 grams per day. Taking larger amounts does not give you added benefits.

Creatine is not recommended for athletes younger than 18 years because it is not known whether creatine is safe for this age group.

• Energy bars are a convenient way to get more calories and nutrients. Choose an energy bar that contains more carbohydrate than protein or fat. Many energy bars do not taste very good, so find a bar you like to eat. Bars are more expensive than other food, and they don’t contain any magical ingredients to improve performance.


Top Three Nutrition Tips to Improve Performance

1. Manage your weight in the off-season instead of cutting weight in-season. A sports dietician can create an eating plan that allows you to make your desired weight well before the season starts. Some athletes have unrealistic goals for body composition. A sports dietician can help you determine whether your goals are realistic.

2. Develop a hydration plan along with your training plan. Dehydration hurts performance and increases the risk for heat illness. Choose sport drinks when rowing on hot, humid days. Drink 2 cups of fluid 2 hours before exercise and drink plenty of fluids after your workout.

3. If you want to gain weight, plan ahead.

Heavyweight rowers often want to gain weight in a short time period, but healthy weight gain, like weight loss, will not happen in a day or two. If you want to gain weight, increase your calories by 500 to 700 per day. If you use high-calorie and high-protein liquid meals, use them between meals or before bed for best results.


Nutrition Prescription:

______ calories per day

______ grams of carbohydrate per day

______ grams of protein per day

______ grams of fat per day

______ cups of fluid per day

Special concerns: