A body can only perform as long as it's getting a ready supply of fuel. An athlete's caloric intake is under high demand throughout the training process. They need adequate calories from all major food groups and minerals that will keep them at peak performance. This is the most underestimated and widely ignored aspect of training. At the collegiate level, this needs to be monitored to ensure the athlete is consuming the right amounts of calories to optimize training and competition, as well as preventing malnutrition and maintain their weight during the season.
Performance Nutrition Principles:
Athletes' nutritional needs vary on a daily basis with training intensity and duration. Caloric intake and carbohydrate, protein and fat consumption should be adjusted relative to activity levels. Athletes should always include a wide variety of foods in their diets and choose foods that have a high nutrient density.
Dehydration is a common cause of fatigue and sub-par performance. The body requires a constant and abundant supply of water to regulate temperature, remove waste products and metabolize food for energy. Adequate hydration before, during and after exercise is essential.
Athletes should strive to keep blood sugar and insulin levels stable throughout the day. This promotes the effective use of food as fuel and provides a favorable environment for muscle growth. Timing food and fluid intake throughout the day, but especially prior to, during, and post exercise is essential for sustaining a high level of performance.
How the staff assist the student athletes:
- Body weight and body composition percentage taken five times within the year (Sept, Nov, Jan March, May)
- Educate players and coaching staff on:
- Hydration pre, post, and during practice
- Timing of meals
- Weight lose and weight gain
- Eating right on and off campus
- Eating for the time of year
- Work with players on individual meal plans based on:
- Test results
- Time of year
- Personal goals
- Work with coaching staff to arrange pre/post game meals when team is traveling to assure the most beneficial options are considered.
- You should not leave a meal feeling hungry, if you do then re-evaluate your portion size
- Do not leave a meal feeling “over full” because this will leave you uncomfortable and will make it difficult for your body to digest the meal as well.
- Eat small meals and snacks every 2 to 3 hours throughout the day. Timing should be planned around practice/game times.
- Eat a meal 3-4 hours before a game this will keep you from getting hungry and keep your blood sugar from getting low
- Have a small snack 20-30 minutes prior to exercise and/or games.
- Start your day early have breakfast by 9 am. This will allow you to take in more energy early in the day.
- Plan ahead and be prepared by having ample supply of food available at all times.
- Be consistent with your meal and snack schedule this will allow your body to digest better and will also regulate your blood sugar.
- Balance your food intake to match your physical activity level for that particular day and/or weekend.
- Make sure you have a variety of foods everyday rather than having the same food for every meal. This will keep you interested and also will prevent you from getting off schedule.
- Understand that before any type of activity (practice or game) it is not a good time to try new foods that your body may not be able to digest properly.
- Avoid eating processed foods, food cooked in heavy oils and fats, food that includes high levels of sugar, fat or starch.
- Make sure in every meal you have more than one food group represented to get a variety of nutrients throughout the day.
- Vegetables:3-5 servings (1/2 cup)
- Fruit: 2-4 servings (1 full piece)
- Dairy: 2-4 servings (1 cup)
- Protein: 2-3 servings (variety of options)
- Carbohydrates:6-10serving (1 piece)
- If you do not like to eat prior to activity substitute in liquid carbohydrates, such as a smoothie or meal replacement drink.
- Do not drink a lot of liquids at meals as it will fill you up faster and displace whole foods.
- Do not skip a meal because you do not want to get up early enough to eat. This will directly reflect your performance and energy for the remainder of the day.
- Always consult with a professional prior to taking any type of supplement.
- Eating healthy does not mean you should only eat salad and vegetables it mean you need to eat with common sense and with a open mind
- Nutrition is just one component to healthy living.
- Be consistent with your exercise routine
- Sleeping habits
- Average 6-8 hours per night
- Gatorade (after activity)
- Unsweetened ice tea
- 2% or fat free milk
- Any 100% fruit juices (best-cranberry)