Fueling your body for roller derby isn’t as hard as I thought…

Taking my lunch break to talk about… FOOD!

I’ve had a couple of skaters in the recent past ask me what I eat before and after practice. I can honestly say diving into the food side of roller derby is pretty intimidating. All players want to do their best to eat right, but mix that with work, school, second jobs, being a mom, family commitments, kids who are picky eaters and the rising cost of food, it’s definitely a challenge.

I have to say, I’m pretty lucky in that my derby widow is a former chef and he handles 99% of the cooking. He makes suppertime look like a cakewalk, being a stay-at-home-dad and juggling his home business on top of that. (I can feel you all have a hate-on for me right now, don’t you?)

It wouldn't be appropriate to talk about nutrition without talking about water. Click on the photo to enlarge, read and learn.

Aside from that, though, it is possible to do some minor changes to your diet to help out your derby life. For those who knew me pre-derby, I was a junk-food-aholic. I would choose a Toblerone bar over a cereal bar for breakfast. I would eat a bag of ripple chips and onion dip myself in one night. When I joined derby I didn’t even think twice about changing my diet because I figured the extra calories I was consuming with junk would do my body good.

Then I found a fantastic handout at my gym. It’s not really a diet to lose weight per se, but suggestions to fuel your body effectively. My guess is an average 2-hour practice burns 800-1000 calories. If you’re heavier set, you burn more. But if you’re not feeding your body appropriately before and after, you’re not getting the most out of those workouts.

The minor changes I make to my food consumption on days I exercise have changed my energy level drastically. While I found my junk-food cravings have greatly diminished since becoming more active, I still indulge in my favourites and pig out on fast food sometimes. This isn’t a diet. I hate that word. It’s about making minor changes to your meals before and after you exercise to get the most out of your workouts… that’s it!

Read below and pay particular attention to the ‘ideas to get you started.’ Many of those items are very doable for the average family and not disgusting to eat either!

What should I eat before activity?

Foods high in carbohydrates

  • digested quickly and are the major fuel for muscles
  • carbohydrates are found in fruits, vegetables, breads, cereals and grains such as pasta and rice. Milk products also supply some

Foods low in protein and fat

  • digested slowly and may make you feel sluggish and nauseated
  • protein and fat are found in fast-foods, chips, meats, pastries, etc.

Food low in fibre

  • digested slowly and may cause cramping and lead to a bathroom break during exercise
  • high fibre foods include bran muffins, beans, high-fibre cereals

Eat 2-4 hours before your event

  • some athletes may be able to eat less than 2 hours before the event
  • chose smaller amounts of food the closer you get to exercise

Experiment during training and don’t try anything new before competition

  • timing, type and amount of food you should eat is highly variable

Ideas to get you started:

  • fruit smoothie in the blender with milk, yogurt, banana, berries
  • 100% juice box, sports bar
  • hot/cold cereal, milk, dried fruit
  • Carnation instant breakfast
  • pasta, tomato sauce, salad
  • sports drink, cereal bar, yogurt
  • bagel, jam, chocolate milk, veggies
  • toast, honey, apple sauce

What should I eat after activity?

Re-fuel with carbs!

  • you need to replace the carbohydrates your muscles burned for energy
  • the harder you train or compete, the more carbohydrates you have burned and will need to replace
  • carbohydrates are found in fruits, vegetables, breads, cereals and grains such as pasta and rice. Milk products also supply some
  • eat a source of carbohydrate RIGHT AFTER exercise when your muscles are most receptive to re-fuel

A source of protein

  • protein is required for rebuilding and repair of tissues such as muscle that is damaged during exercise
  • within 2 hours of finishing exercise, eat a source of protein
  • protein is found in meat, poultry, fish, peanut butter, nuts/seeds, eggs, togu, legumes (baked beans, lentils, etc.) milk, cheese and yogurt

Pump up the antioxidants

  • exercise stresses the body which generates compounds which can damage cells in the body. Antioxidants help to prevent this damage
  • antioxidants
    • vitamin C, beta-carotene and phytochemicals are found in fruits and vegetables
    • vitamin E is found in nuts, seeds, wheat germ and vegetable oils

Ideas to get you started

  • shake made in the blender with milk, yogurt, banana, berries, wheat germ
  • baked potato, steak, steamed broccoli
  • pasta, tomato meat sauce, salad
  • sports drink, trail mix or raisins and peanuts
  • toast, eggs, chocolate milk, carrots
  • chicken breast, rice, green peas
  • sports bar, milk, fruit
  • baked beans, bun, cucumbers

    MMMMM mixy

Cherri’s favourite (sorta healthy) indulgences

Trail mix

Yes, technically trail mix is on my bad list because I have to cut my sodium. But I still use it to help refuel after I run over my lunch hour because it’s easy to keep a bag of trail mix at my desk. I love the Wal-Mart Great Value line of trail mixes. Lots of different varieties and this particular kind has 15% of your daily value of vitamin E in only ¼ cup serving.

Berries and Ice Cream


Wal-Mart sells this frozen 4 berry mix. It’s a large re-sealable bag so it will last you a while. It’s my favourite bedtime snack… I fill a cereal bowl with the berries, microwave for 1 minute to soften them, then I scoop ice cream over top. I usually have more berries than ice cream in the mix. I nuke the entire dish for another 40 seconds to make it more gooey. I love partially melted ice cream! The calcium in the ice cream is an added bonus!

Sports Drinks

I call this an indulgence because they are ridiculously expensive but great to help your body refuel in a pinch because they are available everywhere. To stretch out the dollar value, I do a half water/half drink mix; also because they are ridiculously sweet and don’t quench my thirst in full strength.

Chocolate bars

If I gotta have some chocolate, I go for something with almonds or nuts. Or I try to find a dark chocolate variety, which I hear is a little better for you compared to milk chocolate.

Baked Lays

MMMMMMM baked…. For those salty snack cravings. Not super healthy, but a better alternative to ripple chips and dip and it’s not rice cakes.


So there you go! I hope the ideas posted above will help you get the ball rolling. For those wanting to make a food change, it’s about doing a little at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed. I’d love for everyone to share their favourite indulgences or pre/post exercise foods! I’m always looking for suggestions!!!! Comment! Comment! Comment!

**All information was taken from handouts my gym provided. I’m not a doctor, fitness trainer, nor a professional nutritionist. Do your own research and talk to your doctor before changing anything drastic about your diet or fitness regime. Do what works for you and your body… Yadda yadda yadda…


4 thoughts on “Fueling your body for roller derby isn’t as hard as I thought…

  1. I am part of a brand new roller derby team in Kansas! We have only just begun (we are truly infants in skates) but I found your information to be very helpful! Thank you!

    Salina Sirens
    VooDoo MaryDeath

  2. Pingback: Nutrition Tips & Tricks for Derby | Derby Oz

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