Whether you’re a high-performance athlete or completely new to the game, there’s one key component that can optimize your performance at any level: your diet.
In order to achieve peak-power, we don’t just want fuel – we want the right kind of fuel.
If you’re looking for the missing link in your game strategy, the first place to look is your approach to eating.
By combining the right mix of nutrition, rest and hydration, you won’t just be able to maximize your in-game capabilities, but you’ll reduce your risk of injury as well.
With that, here are 10 nutritional tips to help you achieve athletic excellence this season:
Tip #1: Consider Food as Energy Fuel
Bodies are like batteries in that they can’t run or perform without a proper charge.
However, your body doesn’t just need any source of power, it requires the right mix of nutrients in order to perform at its best.
The amount of energy we gain from different foods is dependent upon their macronutrient content (such as protein, carbohydrates and fats).
As athletes, it’s important that we stick to whole food options as often as possible, as they contain more macronutrient content than processed foods can provide.
Be mindful of what you put in your body and you’ll see better results in your performance and overall health.
Tip #2: Stay. Hydrated.
Did you know that it only takes a 2% drop in hydration to negatively impact your performance?
Drinking water should be an all-day commitment, and it’s important to stay on top of it.
While sports drinks and 100% fruit juices can help with hydration, it’s important to be mindful that the sugar in these drinks can make symptoms of dehydration worsen over time, along with a variety of other health complications.
Reach for the water before you reach for the Gatorade and you’ll find that you feel (and perform) much stronger in the long run.
Tip #3: Consume More Protein
Want to watch your performance grow in leaps and bounds? Give your body the protein it needs to aid in muscle creation and repair.
Getting the proper mix of preferred protein such as lean meats, fish, eggs, yogurt and legumes means that your body will have more of what it needs to prepare for the journey ahead.
Peanut butter and nuts are great sources of on-the-go protein as well, but be careful not to overload yourself. Too much protein can strain your kidneys leading to exhaustion and other possible health concerns.
For the best results, consider working with a professional nutritionist to find the perfect balance for you.
Tip #4: Don’t be Afraid of Carbs
Despite the bad reputation, carbs aren’t something we need to avoid in our diet – they just need to be balanced with a good outlet that uses them to their potential.
Carbohydrates fuel our body with energy and without them we wouldn’t be able to sustain long workouts or high-intensity game play.
However, it’s important to understand that our bodies benefit most from eating healthy carbohydrates such as fruits, nuts, whole grains and vegetables. Whole grain carbs like whole-wheat bread and pasta are great too, but be conscious of what you’re pairing them with so as not to detract from your diet.
If you want more energy, give your body the healthy carbs it needs, but remember to find the balance that works for you and your athletic goals.
Tip #5: Incorporate Your Fruits & Veggies
Let’s not forget to put a bit of color in our diet.
Not only do fruits and vegetables fuel your body with nutrients, but their antioxidant-rich properties provide protection from the common cold as well as more serious illnesses.
When maintaining a healthy diet, we recommend a minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables per day in order to fill your body with the energy and nutrients it needs for training, performance, and recovery.
Each serving should be as big as a handful, and colorful enough to brighten your day.
Plus, they’re delicious!
Tip #6: Opt for Healthy Sources of Fat
Dietary fats don’t just provide us with good energy, they help to support healthy hormone levels too.
Additionally, they help the body to absorb vitamin A, D and E, which all provide essential support in the form of antioxidants, immune system boosts and more.
Supplement your diet with healthy fat sources like avocados, nuts and nut-based butters to provide a solid jump in nutrition and energy levels.
Do your best to steer clear of vegetable oils like soybean, corn and cottonseed oil, as these do very little to provide your body with the fats it needs.
We recommend reaching for coconut or olive oil instead for a healthy alternative.
Tip #7: Get Enough Sleep to Increase Recovery
Sleep is underrated, but completely necessary if you want to feel energized on a regular basis.
In fact, our dreaming hours are when our body does most of its work repairing cells and muscles as well as restoring our energy levels. As such, it’s important to give our body the time it needs to do the work to help us thrive.
As our brains play an important role in storing and organizing new information, it is also responsible for sending important prompts to the body on what to repair and what to release.
The best diet in the world will mean nothing if you aren’t getting enough sleep, so make sure you get to bed at a reasonable time and prioritize a sleep schedule that benefits your body and mind.
Tip #8: Don’t Skip Out on Breakfast
While many people fall into the habit of skipping breakfast, this is not recommended for those who are following an athletic training regimen.
As breakfast is where we get our first big boost of nutrients for the day, choosing the right breakfast foods can make a world of a difference in your energy levels throughout the day.
Since athletes require a steady stream of fuel to keep their bodies at peak performance, it is highly recommended to work with a professional nutritionist to determine the breakfast food options that will help you train at your best.
Tip #9: Be Conscious of On-The-Go Eating
When on the go, it’s important to pack food, snacks and beverages that will best support your dietary needs.
Unfortunately, concession stands are not typically stocked with food options that will keep you energized without a crash.
Instead, pre-plan your on-the-go mealtimes with energy-rich foods (such as grain-based crackers, cheeses, cut vegetables, hard boiled eggs and lean meats) as they will be most effective in keeping you full, energized and comfortable no matter where you are.
Tip #10: Strategize Your Game Day Nutrition
While ongoing training can benefit your game day performance, game day nutrition is also something that should be practiced and maintained well in advance.
Diet changes or changes in supplements should never happen at the same time as any major competitive events. If you’re planning on changing something big about how you eat or the supplements you take, make sure to do it months ahead of time so you can see how your body reacts to it.
Eating smaller meals and limiting dairy/fats/fiber consumption means your body won’t have as much processing to do, leaving more energy for your performance.
As you approach the big day, it’s important to be even more mindful of what you put in your system.
Whitby’s All-inclusive Athletic Resource Center
At ETS, we pride ourselves on providing you with the tools you need to achieve your athletic goals.
With a full-service approach, we help our athletes maximize their potential by:
- Providing proper nutritional programs tailored to your goals
- Improving athletic performance with custom-built training regimens
- Decreasing risk of injury through guidance, education and awareness
Our strategic combination of performance testing, nutritional resources and fitness programming takes the guesswork out of athletic training.
No matter your sport, age or skill level, our experts are committed to building stronger, more confident athletes.
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Interested in learning more about our athlete training programs?
Feel free to contact Kelly Gallant at firstname.lastname@example.org to book a complimentary athletic consultation.