A lot of athletes struggle with nutrition.
Some of the reasons for this can include lack of knowledge, inability to cook, not buying their own groceries, timing/options with school, etc.
There are a lot of things that are working against athletes eating well.
The problem is that good nutrition can be such a difference maker. It allows for good performance and maintenance of body weight. I’m also not going to ignore the fact that people want to look good. Those that don’t address their nutrition usually are looking for weight loss or gain.
Improving nutrition really comes down to a couple things. Poor nutrition for athletes is usually a result of eating too little or eating too much junk. These are sometimes combined which might seem like it doesn’t make sense.
When an athlete gives us a food log we can see some trends.
Option 1- The plan that is all good food but the athlete does not eat enough
Option 2- The plan that would be spectacular if the athlete would eat a vegetable every once in a while. It is usually high protein and starch.
Option 3- The plan that resembles how a 6 year old would eat. It is full of junk food.
Some of the issues that these athletes face is that their body fat, weight, or energy levels are not where they want to be. One usually leads to another too. Someone who wants to lose body fat, restricts calories, and now has no energy to perform.
The following tips are designed to help athletes eat better and handle their nutrition.
- Drink Water
Don’t waste calories on sports drinks and soda. There is really no benefit nor are all of those ingredients going to be good for performance. Drink a bunch of water. More than you think you need.
- You need more vegetables
I have seen too many food logs that have no vegetables in them. And lettuce absolutely does not count. Everyone knows vegetables are good for them but not everyone eats them. That’s where you need to make the commitment.
Athletes should try to eat 4-6+ cups of vegetables in a given day. This is really hard to do but not impossible. Start with 1 cup and build up from there.
You can go fresh or frozen here too. Frozen is especially good for convenience.
- Protein cannot be the only part of your meal
Every meal should include a protein, vegetables, and fat. That is a well-rounded plate.
As good as chicken breast is for you, it cannot be the only thing you eat for dinner. You are missing ¾ of your meal.
Do not forget the other stuff it is very important. If you only get 25% of your test correctly you still fail that test. The same applies here.
- Did you eat breakfast this morning?
In one of Dan John’s books he mentions his rules of nutrition. One of them is that you cannot ask about supplements if you didn’t have breakfast this morning.
I love that rule. Supplements are useless when your diet is not taken care of. They are supposed to supplement a good diet. Wonder where they got the name…
The point is that you need to be eating breakfast. It’s especially important if you are in school. I have never seen a productive workout when someone comes for the 3pm class having not eaten a thing all morning.
And eat a meal. A bagel or a banana is not breakfast.