The ABC of Sports Nutrition: Greek Yogurt, Hummus, Ice Cream & Jell-O


, by Renee McGregor

Greek Yogurt is a staple of many athletes' diets. Photography by: olepeshkina

Making the right sports nutrition choices can depend on a number of factors, but perhaps most important is having access to good information. As part of the ABC of Sports Nutrition series, Renee McGregor shines a spotlight on the benefits of Greek Yogurt, Hummus, Ice Cream and Jell-O.

G is for… Greek Yogurt

Although it only really burst onto the food scene a few years ago, Greek Yogurt is a staple in most households now, as it should be. 

For those of us who are physically active, Greek (style) yogurt is a perfect recovery choice due to its very high protein content. Most natural Greek (style) yogurt provides 10g of protein/100g, which is double the amount found in standard yogurts. Protein is an important nutrient required in the recovery process to repair and rebuild muscles, helping them to adapt to the training process. 

RELATED: The ABC of Sports Nutrition: Avocado, Beetroot, Coffee

Greek yogurt is an ideal choice due to its versatility – it can be mixed and eaten with fruit and honey or added to smoothies, as an immediate recovery choice after a high-intensity session. It can be eaten with cereal such as muesli or granola or used as a topping for pancakes as a nutrient-dense breakfast. 

Top Nutrition Tip:  Combine Greek yogurt with avocado, chili and lime and serve as a dip to eat with chopped vegetables or oatcakes as a snack post gym.

H is for…. Hummus

Photography by: Stocks Unlimited

The combination of Chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon, and olive oil makes this a high nutrient-packed dip full of Vitamins and minerals. The chickpeas provide soluble fiber, an important component of the diet that has been positively linked with improved heart and gut health. Chickpeas are also high in protein, iron, folate, and B vitamins, making it a great choice for all but, particularly useful for vegetarians and vegans, whose diets may be naturally low in these. 

Similarly, tahini is a sesame seed paste and an excellent source of calcium; this is especially important as a non-dairy option for those individuals who may avoid or cannot tolerate dairy. 

RELATED: The ABC of Sports Nutrition: Dairy, Eggs, Flaxseed

While hummus is often associated with being high in fat, it is usually made with either the more traditional, olive oil or rapeseed oil. Both are good sources of unsaturated fatty acids, which should make up the majority of our overall fat intake.

Hummus is very versatile, it can be used as a sandwich filling, a jacket potato topping or as a dip to be eaten with vegetables; perfect as a high-protein snack between meals.

Top Nutrition Tip: For a great recovery lunch, grill a mix of Mediterranean style vegetables such as courgettes, peppers, aubergines and tomatoes. Place these over 2 slices of toasted sourdough and then top with a tablespoon of hummus.

I is for… Ice Cream

There's always time for ice cream. Photography by: MaraZe

While this is not necessarily top of the nutritional choices. It is important to appreciate that true healthy eating is actually about balance; this means that while you should aim to make your diet nutrient-dense for the majority of the time, there is still room for the occasional less nutrient-dense option.

RELATED: 9 Ways to Boost Your Immune System this Spring

If you’ve been training or racing in very hot climates, then having ice cream as part of your recovery protocol can help to bring about an initial cooling effect. (Although the higher fat content of ice cream does mean that the body takes more time to digest and this actually slightly raises your temperature in the long run). The high sugar content will be useful in starting to replace depleted glycogen stores. So while not the number one choice for recovery, there is a time and place when this can be consumed.

Top Nutrition Tip: one way to make ice cream a little more nutrient-dense is to add it to your recovery shake –blend a banana, milk, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream as an option post high-intensity training session.

J is for… Jell-O or Jelly

Photography by: VLDR

During very high-intensity exercise of over 45 minutes, or more moderate-intensity endurance training, over 90 minutes, it may be necessary to top up your carbohydrate stores, to be able to maintain your pace and intensity. The general guidelines are to take on around 30-60g of carbohydrates per hour.  The harder your body is working, the quicker it will be draining its glycogen stores. 

RELATED: Avoid Making These Common Nutrition Mistakes

There are many sport-specific products on the market, including gels, drinks and bars. One alternative to this is to use Jell-O. It is cheap, comes in an array of flavors and each cube provides around 10g of carbohydrate. When comparing ingredients, they are fairly similar to what you see on the side of a sports gel packet.

Top Nutrition Tip: Before a race, cut up a packet of jelly into strips of 3 cubes. This way you will know that each strip provides you with 30g of carbohydrate. Remember as with all fuel options, practice in training to ensure you can tolerate it, before using it on race day.

The ABCs of Sports Nutrition - the series

Related Tags

More Stories