Coaches are often the first people to provide nutritional guidance to athletes. Unfortunately, many trainers are not prepared to provide such guidance and, under most state laws, are not authorized to provide nutritional guidance. However, when it comes to sports nutrition, many coaches and players simply focus on gaining weight and muscle. This “plan” lacks research-based information.
Below are 3 key nutritional facts that all athletes and coaches should know.
· Hydration. Coaches and athletes need to understand that proper hydration involves much more than water breaks during practice. Maintaining proper hydration can be difficult depending on the intensity of the sport, the environment and each individual. A different problematic scenario revolves around the classroom environment. As athletes progress through the day, a stop at the water fountain between classes can go a long way in helping hydration levels. Poor hydration leads to fatigue, weight loss and, contrary to popular belief, is the main culprit behind muscle cramps. Athletes must maintain adequate levels of hydration throughout the day. During practice in warmer areas (in a gym, outdoors during spring and summer, etc.) they should gradually drink water.
· carbohydrates. Glycogen is the main source of fuel for the body. Carbohydrates are easily converted to glycogen and without enough of it, you will see sluggish, sluggish performance. Eating a large amount of carbohydrates throughout the day will replace muscle energy lost in workouts and prevent the body from stealing protein from the muscles for energy. A goal for athletes should be to eat about 50 grams of carbohydrates 30 to 45 minutes after training. This could include a bagel with peanut butter, a banana, and a cup of chocolate milk or a cup of Greek yogurt with a handful of granola. Remember chocolate milk – it’s one of the best post-workout drinks you can find.
· protein. The amount and timing of protein are equally important when an athlete wants to increase muscle mass and strength. Protein builds muscle and repairs muscles damaged during exercise. When an athlete engages in strenuous training, hard practice, and long games, a great deal of stress is placed on the muscles. If total protein intake is too low, muscles will not be able to recover properly, new muscle will not form, and athletes may experience increased soreness as well as delayed recovery time. Moment: After a workout, practice, or game, 20 to 30 grams of protein should be consumed within 30 to 45 minutes after training. Amount: An athlete who intends to increase muscle mass or strength should ingest 1.2 to 1.4 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. This will ensure that enough protein is synthesized for the illicit repair and growth of muscles. As a general rule of thumb, 20 to 30 grams of protein should be consumed at each meal. This will leave time for protein supplementation throughout the day. That level of protein can take the form of a deck of cards-sized piece of meat, a protein shake, or three eggs.
Here are four quick and easy recovery meals after practice:
– 1 cup low-fat vanilla Greek yogurt with ½ cup granola
– Smoothie with 1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt, 1 cup water, and 2 cups frozen blueberries
– Protein shake mixed with 1 cup of strawberries, 1 cup of blueberries and 1 banana
– 3 eggs and 1 cup of oat flakes