Nutrition: Striking While It’s Hot

Immune 24 hour protocol ppt

Striking While It’s Hot: Boosting Immunity at the Right Time 

By Dawn Weatherwax RD, LD, ATC, CSCS

The goal while training is to stay healthy, remain injury-free and recover strong. This allows the opportunity to get the best out of your competition potential! However, sometimes athletes can do everything right on their hydration, nutrition and sleep goals, but still find themselves getting the sniffles or starting to feel under the weather.

Is there anything that can be done to help athletes when this occurs? Believe it or not, there is!



First, let’s recap what an athlete should be doing daily to amplify health and immunity:

1. Eating enough and reaching 100% vitamins A, E, & C, D (food/ supplementation). Daily nutrition has the most impact on all aspects of training, especially immunity. However, 75% of athletes chronically undereat or have too much added sugar or saturated fat. Undereating (otherwise known as “low energy availability”) is a significant factor. The body needs to be nourished properly to recover, repair, grow and to do back-to-back trainings optimally. Carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats are involved in a variety of immune processes.

2. Optimal fluid intake. Shortage of hydration intake not only impairs performance, but impacts the integrity of the mucosal lining in the gut. A weak gut leads to an increased opportunity to get sick.

3. Daily pre/probiotic food/supplementation. Probiotics impact the health of our gut microbiome. A healthy gut impacts how well we fight illness.

4. Sleeping well. Lack of continuous sleep weakens the immune system and opens up the opportunity to get sick or injured.


NEXT STEPS (Within 24 hours of cold or flu symptoms)

The following reduces duration and intensity:

1. Vitamin C impacts inflammation, kills bacteria and fights infections. The goal is to add 500-1,000 mg of vitamin C a day via supplementation for the duration of the symptoms.

2. Zinc is an essential mineral for wound healing and immune system function. It has been shown to shorten common colds by around 33%. The target is 75 mg/day of elemental zinc. Better to take in 2-4 dosages throughout the day to avoid nausea. Zinc lozenges, tablets or capsules are the most common forms of supplementation. (Do not continue to take after 7-10 days if symptoms persist. High levels of zinc interfere with copper absorption.) 



Sometimes athletes can do everything right, but still get sick. The goal is to minimize the illness duration and intensity to have negligible impact on training and performance outcomes. I highly recommend that athletes have an “immune kit” available since it usually strikes at inconvenient periods of time.

* * *

This article and the following sample menu are educational only and should not be used in place of medical advice.


Pre-Swim Practice (4:30-5:15 a.m.)

2 slicesBrownberry® organic thin-sliced 22 whole grains & seeds bread

2 T Natural nut or seed butter

1/2 Banana (sliced)

1 Grapefruit or large orange

16 oz Water

Training (5:30-6:45 a.m.)

4-16 oz Water an hour (amount needed depends on sweat rate)

Breakfast (6-7:30 a.m.)

Egg Sandwich:

1 Dave’s Killer English Muffin

3 Whole eggs, cooked with 1 chopped bell pepper and 1/2 cup spinach or 3-Veggies Made Great® (freezer section & GF) mushroom & cheese frittata

1 Sliced Canadian bacon or vegan/1 oz cheese

2 Kiwi

16 oz Water

Lunch (11 a.m.-12:45 p.m.)

2 oz Mary’s Gone Crackers™ (GF)

2 oz Lean turkey

1 oz Lean ham

1 oz Provolone

1 oz Cheddar cheese

1/4 cup Sliced cucumbers

1-1/2 cup Grapes

2 cups Snow peas

1/3 cup Hummus or Chosen® Classic Guacamole

16 oz Water or Origin™ Sparkling Berries America Spring Water

Afternoon Snack (2-3:30 p.m.)

1 Garden of Life high-performance bar


1/8 cup Raw almonds

1/8 cup Pepita seeds

1/8 cup Golden raisins

1 T Cacao nibs

1 T Dried cranberries

16 oz Water or blackberry raspberry hibiscus Bigelow Botanicals™ Cold Water Infusion tea bag

Training (3:30-5:30 p.m.)

10-20 oz Water an hour with one NUUN tablet (optional) per 20 oz

Post recovery within 30-45 min: 10-20 oz chocolate milk/soy milk or Clif Builder Bar (If you can have dinner within that time, then no need for this snack)

Evening Meal (6-7 p.m.)

3-6 oz Salmon

1-2 cups Asparagus

1 T Olive oil or non-GMO canola oil

1 cup Red potatoes with garlic

1 tsp Land o Lakes® butter with olive oil & sea salt

16 oz Water

Evening Snack (8-10 p.m.)

1 Okios® Triple Zero 20 g protein or Kite Hills® New Recipe Greek-Style yogurt 17 g protein

1 cup Raspberries

2 T Post® Grape Nuts

1/4 cup Salted pepitas seeds


Dawn Weatherwax (RD, LD, ATC, CSCS) is a registered/licensed dietitian with a specialty in sports nutrition and founder of Sports Nutrition 2Go and Dawn Weatherwax Sports Nutrition Academy. She has been working with swimmers for over 25 years and has launched an online nutrition program for swimmers at In addition, she is an athletic trainer with a certification in strength and conditioning from The National Strength and Conditioning Association.

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