Grass fed meats have a lot of benefits for healthy living. Norwood Sports Performance Director Tim Hanway talks the benefits of grass fed beef for improving your nutrition.
Food is what fuels your human machine. Choosing the right kind of fuel can go a long way towards optimizing your performance. This article focuses on things to avoid before your workout.
Protein is, of course, an important part of any athlete’s diet. Getting the right timing around your workout is important. Too much of it before a workout or a game can leave you feeling too full or lethargic – neither of which you want.
Any food with a lot of saturated fat should be avoided. This type of fat molecule takes a long time for your body to digest. It stays in your digestive system longer, and can lead to bloating, cramping, or diarrhea.
Even though your doctor might want you to up your fiber intake, don’t do it pre-workout. Doing so right before you want to break a sweat might have some unpleasant consequences. Fiber certainly gets the digestive system moving, but you don’t want that during a hard training session.
There’s a lot more to be said about nutrition before, during, and after training or competition. Check back for more in the future, and if the topic interests you, start researching!
Travel is a necessary component of competitive sports that can start as early as middle school. When you’re on the road, all the careful planning and meal prep you do at home to guarantee your body gets all the nutrition it needs for optimal performance suddenly disappears. Your body already has to contend with a host of challenges that can’t be helped – jet lag, long periods of time spent sitting on planes, strange beds, etc. – so change something you can control and make sure you’re still fueling your body well.
First and foremost, plan ahead. How long is the trip? How much of that will be spent traveling? Are you likely to need food on the plane? Can you make arrangements ahead of time for healthier in-flight eating? What kind of food will you have access to wherever you’re going? Answering these questions will help you form a plan and avoid the trap of grabbing whatever is easiest because you’re hungry.
Recycled air on planes and in airports is dry and will dehydrate you faster than normal, thus requiring you to replace what you’ve lost more frequently. You can’t bring bottled water through security, but you can bring an empty, reusable bottle and fill it up at the bottle-fillers most airports have these days. You’ll feel better when you land and won’t feel any of the cravings that dehydration can cause.
Probably everyone who has ever traveled regularly has fallen into the trap of grabbing whatever is most convenient. Your flight might be boarding in the next two minutes, or maybe you know you’re about to be on a long flight and that bag of chips or candy bar looks like the bit of comfort you need to make it a little more tolerable.
We’re not here to say you shouldn’t ever have indulgences, but bringing your own, healthier snacks will help avoid impulsive choices that you will regret later. Below are a few nutritious options to keep you fueled and feeling good.
All you need is a little planning and you’ll never have to wonder how you’re going to avoid hunger on the go again.
“Hey, Coach, why should I eat protein?”
Athletes of all ages ask us this question all the time at Velocity. Simply put, protein is what is going to make you stronger. A body that is getting sufficient amounts of protein is able to effectively grow and repair lean muscle mass. Without enough protein, your muscles will struggle to repair themselves after your workouts.
“That sounds great! I definitely want to get stronger and recover fast, so what foods should I eat to get my protein?”
Animal sources like chicken, fish, and beef are great options. Animal proteins contain all nine essential amino acids, which are the actual components responsible for the growth and repair of your body’s muscles, bones, and tissues. Remember, milk and eggs come from animals, so they are also excellent options for a protein-rich diet. Try your best to choose animal protein options that are lower in fat, such as skinless chicken rather than fried chicken.
If animal proteins aren’t your thing (I’m looking at you, vegetarians and vegans), consider pairs of foods such as beans with rice, or nut butters with wheat bread. The beans or nut butters have proteins, but only when paired with the rice and bread, respectively, do they contain all nine essential amino acids.
“OK, that’s very helpful. But what if I’m a really picky eater? Are there any other ways to be sure that I’m getting enough protein?”
Many athletes include protein supplements in their daily diet. High quality whey proteins are the best option for athletes – particularly people without food allergies. Whey is a protein extracted during milk production, it belongs in the “animal proteins” category that we previously discussed. Check the labels and look for things like BCAA’s (branched-chain amino acids) and glutamine. If you’re lactose-intolerant, try to choose a hydrolyzed whey protein. These have already been broken down into their simplest forms, so they won’t cause digestive issues, and they will also be absorbed into your body more quickly. Vegetarians and vegans should look for plant-based protein supplements containing hemp and pea proteins. These contain ample amounts of all nine essential amino acids.
“Thanks, Coach! One last question before I head to the store to get my protein: How much should I be taking each day?”
Every athlete is different, but a simple beginner’s rule to follow is to get 25-30 grams of protein five times per day. More specifically, someone who wants 150 pounds of lean muscle mass (such as a very fit and lean 170-pound athlete) should be eating approximately 150 grams of protein each day. It can sometimes be difficult to get this much protein into your daily diet, so using both foods and supplements throughout the day is recommended. Also, always try to get 25-30 grams of protein shortly after every workout because this is when your body is most receptive to the benefits that proteins provide.
No matter the season, it is important for athletes to stay hydrated in order to perform at their highest level. However, during the warmer months, dehydration is a very serious topic for not only athlete performance, but general safety and well-being. As the temperature goes up, so too does athlete perspiration.
When an athlete sweats, they lose electrolytes such as sodium and potassium. When an athlete depletes their body of fluids and electrolytes without replenishing them, they put themselves in grave danger.
Here are four dehydration warning signs athletes should take seriously:
This is one of the easiest ways to catch dehydration at an early stage. If an athlete’s urine is dark yellow it is a good time to start drinking some water and stop the problem before it even starts.
Weight loss of 2% or more during a training session is a good indicator of dehydration. That would be approximately 2.5-pounds of weight lost for an athlete weighing 125 pounds. Weight loss during exercise is not fat loss — so stay hydrated before, during and after training and bring plenty of fluids to games and practices.
Muscle cramps can be another sign of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Consuming a sports drink like Gatorade during exercise bouts longer than four hours or when under extreme heat conditions can help prevent muscle cramps. This does not mean an athlete needs a sports drink for one hour of exercise — water would be much more beneficial to them than Gatorade.
If an athlete is experiencing dizziness, nausea and fatigue, it is important to immediately begin consuming water or a sports drink and rest. Also, it is important to avoid caffeine, as caffeine will increase urine output.
When you recognize any of these four dehydration warning signs, tell a coach or parent and begin hydrating immediately. Have fun and be safe this summer during your training sessions.