On Sunday, Sept. 15, the nutritionist who works with the Orioles and the Baltimore Ravens, Sue James, came to campus. It was a presentation designed to give athletes information on how to eat and drink to do their best. For those that couldn’t make it, here are the points she emphasized:
1. Don’t skip meals.
2. Eat all the food groups, even fruits and veggies.
3. Take a multi-vitamin, especially if you believe you’re missing any nutrients.
4. Drink lots of water.
5. Get enough sleep. 7-8 hours a night is recommended.
More detailed information follows.
Hydration is the most important thing because dehydrated muscles can’t grow and won’t repair themselves quickly. Men should drink 2-3 liters (8.5-12.6 cups) of water a day. Women should drink 1-2 liters (4.2-8.5 cups) a day. The bigger and more active you are, the more water you should drink. Also, before workouts you should drink 2-3 cups, 1-1.5 cups during workouts, and 3 cups or more afterwards. The goal is to weigh the exact same before exercise and after exercise. Every pound lost through sweat is 2 cups of water. If exercising for two hours or more or in hot, humid weather that causes more sweating, sports drinks with electrolytes, such as Gatorade and Powerade, are recommended.
Alcohol is a dehydrator, so to perform at your peak, limit alcohol intake to none or very little, and do not get drunk. Athletes that get drunk are twice as likely to get injured, and it can negate up to two weeks of training, depending how much you drink and how often.
Eat a balanced diet. Protein and Carbs are essential to gaining and maintaining muscle. She recommends 20-30g of protein at breakfast and 30-40g at lunch and dinner. At least two servings of dairy a day is also recommended for the vitamin D. Don’t use protein powder to get the bulk of protein; natural proteins in chicken, turkey, black beans, and other high-protein foods have other nutrients that your body needs.
Carbs fuel glycogen reserves. Glycogen is stored by muscles and is first used as energy. Without glycogen stores, muscles won’t have the power or endurance they normally do. Oatmeal, breads, potatoes, corn, and rice are all carb-rich foods.
The time you eat and obtain energy is as important as the food you consume. You should eat high-energy (read: high-carb) foods and drink water less than an hour and a half before practice or game time. For maximum recovery, you should have protein within a half hour of your practice and within four hours, have both protein and carbs so your muscles can repair themselves and replace glycogen stores. Eat fruits and vegetables.
Never skip a meal. If there’s no time to sit and eat, grab some snacks that are good for fuel, such as trail mix, Fig Newtons, dried fruit, chocolate milk, or fresh fruit, and eat a meal as soon as you reasonably can.
Remember food safety and hygiene tips. Illness and food poisoning can take an athlete out of the game or effect performance for 4-6 days.
Remember that Nutrition Facts are regulated and therefore correct, but Supplement Facts are not. Be careful which products you choose.
If you have an all-day tournament or meet in which you are competing throughout the day and not just at a specific time, have a big breakfast that your stomach can handle, drink lots of water, and have carb and protein filled snacks throughout the day. As soon as you can afterwards, have a big meal, preferably one that includes all the food groups.
Many of the things mentioned here are not new knowledge to long-time athletes. For them, this serves as a reminder that what you eat and drink affects athletic performance, so implement these tips as best you can to perform at your peak for yourself, your team, and your school.
FEATURED IMAGE PHOTO SOURCE: The Baltimore Sun http://bsun.md/19zvNe3