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How to Eat to Enhance Sports Performance With Certified Nutrition Coach Amber Clarkston

Amber Clarkston, practicing what she preaches…

Have you ever wondered if you can take your sports performance up a notch? 

Do you question if you are eating right for your level of exercise and fueling yourself the best way? 

We have those same questions, which is why we recently checked in with local Certified Nutrition Coach Amber Clarkston to see if she could shed some light on the matter.

The founder of Glow Up Nutrition, and an athlete herself, Amber’s nutrition work focuses on sport and exercise nutrition, so we figured she was the perfect person to ask. From ditching the idea that you should only train in a fasted state to reminding us how important it is to consume enough protein and water throughout the day, there are some great nuggets of nutritional wisdom in the following interview.

Let’s start with the question on everyone’s lips: Can you really enhance sports performance through food?

Nutrition is truly the foundation of all health and wellness. Without optimal nutrition, athletes won’t ever fully realize and fulfill their performance potential. Understanding what the body needs and helping people based on their specific goals and activity levels is one of my favorite parts of this work.

Do different sports demand different diets?

It takes serious fuel to get to these views

While different activity levels and different sports all need a healthy nutritional base that includes plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, lots of clean water, and a healthy amount of complex carbs and protein, nutritional needs can certainly differ from one sport to another. That being said, it also very much depends on what specific results the individual athlete is trying to achieve. For example, some sports require more strength while others demand more endurance – the diet of a marathon runner vs. a bodybuilder will look a bit different in terms of their balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates.

What are 3 common mistakes people make when it comes to exercising and food? 

Some of the most common mistakes people unknowingly make when it comes to exercising and food are:

  • not drinking enough water
  • not consuming enough protein with every meal
  • not consuming enough fresh produce or a variety of colors.

Our bodies do a great job of storing an excess supply of carbohydrates and fat but they don’t store extra protein. Protein is the powerhouse of muscle development, growth, and preservation. To optimize an athlete’s performance, it is especially important for them to consume adequate protein every time they eat (actual protein recommendations vary by a person’s size, goals, and activity levels). Protein is also the most important macronutrient to focus on if someone is trying to lose weight or reduce body fat.

Talking of protein, what are your thoughts on protein shakes?

I’m a big fan of protein shakes as a food supplement to one’s diet and personally consume them almost every day. They can be a quick, easy, and delicious way to help people hit their daily protein target. I also love using bone broth and collagen as a way to supplement important amino acids into a diet. This can help a variety of things including protein synthesis, injury recovery, and skin, hair, and nail health.  Perhaps even more importantly, most people have sub-optimal gut health for a variety of factors, and bone broth is very healing for the gut while also being very easy to add into our daily habits.

Is it better to exercise in a fasted state from the night before or not?

There is a lot of chatter out there about fasted state exercise and most of it is vastly overblown. This could be an entire essay in itself so I’ll keep it short — there can be a slight difference in muscle glycogen and fat use but nothing significant enough to make fasted exercise a must. The most important thing is to focus on getting daily movement in whatever way feels achievable to you. It truly is about personal preference – if you feel better exercising in a fasted state, do that. If you feel better exercising after having a small meal, do that. Whatever feels best to you is what will give you the best results as you will perform better when you feel good!

What are 3 things anyone can start today to enhance their sports performance through diet?

If this is repeating what I said above, it’s because it really is so important. The top 3 big picture things that I recommend to clients looking to enhance their sports performance are: consume adequate water, consume adequate protein, and consume as many colors per day as possible from fresh vegetables and fruits. It really is that simple. Of course, I get down into the details of a personalized diet and approach to nutrition once I start working with a client, but these are a great launch point for everyone.

If you’d like to up your own nutritional game, whether it’s to enhance your sports performance, lose weight, or just regain energy, you can set up a consult with Amber at 858.333.7143 or

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