Whether you’re an amateur athlete, a weekend warrior, or a competing endurance athlete, it’s likely you eat and drink sugar and carbohydrates before, during, and after exercise. You probably consume quite a bit to stay fueled and feed your muscles the nutrients they need. This is especially true for tenacious athletes like cyclists, runners, and swimmers. A stored-up energy source in the muscles called glycogen is burned during exercise. The problem for high-endurance athletes is that the foods used to replenish glycogen are often full of sugar and carbohydrates that feed the bacteria in our mouths and on our teeth that cause tooth decay. Athletes can still get the nutrition they need without harming their teeth with our tooth-friendly recipes for athletes.
We spoke with Jackie Robertson, a certified dietician and nutritionist with eNRG Performance, to provide a few easy-to-make tooth-friendly recipes for athletes. They don’t contain added sugar and instead are made with naturally occurring sugars from fruits. Sugars from whole fruits, as opposed to fruit juices, canned fruit, and dried fruit, are generally better for your teeth and overall health than food containing added sugars. However, fruits with higher acidity levels, such as citrus fruits, can cause tooth enamel erosion due to the higher acidity levels which can change the pH level in our mouths. It’s always good practice to rinse your mouth out with normal water, or even chew sugar-free gum, anytime you eat something containing sugar.
Jackie Robertson recommends consulting with a registered dietician or nutritionist before changing your diet and taking into account your specific needs based on the intensity of your exercise. Whether you’re looking for healthy energy food for cycling, healthy snacks for runners, or just snacks you can eat between meals to keep your metabolism high during the day, Jackie has shared her favorite recipes.
Two Tooth-Friendly Recipes for Athletes
Pre-Exercise Meal and Recipe — Metabolically Efficient Crepes
Pro Tip: Consume 1.5–3 hours before your workout.
- 2 eggs
- 1 large banana
- 1/4 cup shredded coconut
- 1/4 cup almond flour
- 4 tablespoons unsweetened almond or coconut milk
- Butter for cooking
- Add your favorite crepe filling
- Nut butter and fruit
- Cottage cheese and fruit
Combine all ingredients except butter and filling in blender and blend until smooth.
Over medium/low heat, melt a small amount of butter in a frying pan, tilting pan to cover entire bottom.
Add approximately 2 tablespoons of batter to pan, tilting pan to spread batter thinly.
Cook until edges start to look dry, and bubbles have popped on the surface. Flip and cook other side until golden.
Repeat with remaining batter, buttering pan between each crepe.
Add your favorite filling (we used almond butter with cinnamon and blueberries), wrap, and enjoy.
During Exercise Recipe — Peanut Butter Crunch Energy Balls
Pro Tip: Make ahead and carry 3–6 with you, eat 1–2 per hour during and after exercise.
Servings: 16 energy balls
- 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1 tablespoon vanilla whey protein powder
- 1 tablespoons cocoa nibs
- 1 tablespoons chia seeds
- 1 cup natural peanut butter
- 1 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 tablespoons honey
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix until moistened.
Roll into 1-inch balls
Enjoy and store in the refrigerator.
To see more of our tooth-friendly recipes, check out:
*Updated August 2021